…Ibusa Might Be Forced to Enforce the Supreme Court Judgment on Ubu River Natural Boundary between the Two Communities
By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD
Opinion: On December 4, 2023, Mr. Uche Nwankwo from Ogwashi-Uku sneaked through my email what I consider a feeble rejoinder clad in stealth threat titled “Judgment” in reference to Suit No/W6/1935 without any serious rebuttal of the issues raised in the previous parts one and two. The judgment was the consequence of a declaratory suit originally filed by Obi Adigwe of Umuogwo Village Umuekea Quarters, Ibusa in his personal capacity against his Ogwashi-Uku farmer-tenant who refused to pay his annual yam tithe; which Obi Ezenweani of Ogwashi-Uku later took over for himself and for Ogwashi-Uku.
Before going into the substance of the case which clearly contradicts the substance of the ultimatum to Admiralty University and, further collaborates the Ubu River thesis of Ibusa boundary, it will be necessary to put down verbatim the content of Uche Nwankwo’s email correspondence.
In Uche Nwankwo’s words:
“We read your article and were shocked at the level of deceit contained therein. We have 6 consequential judgements against Ibusa and in favour of Ogwashi Ukwu spanning a period of over 130 years in our possession. There is an 1893 land case in the native courts that Ogwashi Ukwu won. Another in 1905 in the native courts again resolved in favour of Ogwashi. Yet another judgement in 1922 where Ogwashi Ukwu obtained and enforced a judgement on a substantial part of Ibusa. This was also obtained in the native courts. A further judgement obtained in the high court Warri jurisdiction 1935 which was appealed to the West African Court of Appeal in Lagos. Again Ibusa lost that appeal in 1937. Note that the West African Court of Appeal was the highest court in the land at the time and several other judgements from smaller communities in Ogwashi Ukwu against Ibusa. It is important that the truth be told and not fabricated stories which you try to pass off as a true historical account of the legal outcomes between the two communities. One must be careful not of overstretch things that are clearly not tenable. We all know our history and any further falsehoods from you would push us to put before the public documents obtained from the colonial office in London that reflects the accurate relationship that was in existence betwe]en Ogwashi Ukwu and Ibusa before and during the early colonial period.”
As good neighbours, there were three things Ogwashi-Uku bequeathed to Ibusa through marriage. Ibusa accepted two and modified them to higher plains, while rejecting one in totality. Ogwashi-Uku bequeathed Annual Iwu Festival to Ibusa through Nwanze-Oyana’s grandmother who hailed from Azungwu Quarters, Ogwashi-Uku. From a festival of “Everybody thou art king with canes in thy hands”, Ibusa modified the Iwu Festival to an incredible traditional carnival of melodious folk music and multiple-styled dance performances.
Ogwashi-Uku also bequeathed to Ibusa the act of “stealing goat through baby-backing style. Ibusa excelled and further modified it to the higher plain of Advance-Fee-Fraud (419) through their daughter’s son Fred Ajudua, who in the manner his mother’s kinsmen has now degenerated to the inglorious act of stealing his people’s land, in the same pattern Ibusa is confronted today by Ogwashi-Uku. The third legacy which Ibusa refused to inherit from Ogwashi-Uku is the “act of tale forgery.” And this is what Mr. Uche Nwankwo just exhibited. Let us then take his sermonic infantile mendacity seriatim.
Lie Number One:
“We have 6 consequential judgements against Ibusa and in favour of Ogwashi Ukwu spanning a period of over 130 years in our possession.”
Applying the theory of historical mathematics, 130 years back from 2023 will give the year 1893. Was Ogwashi-Uku under British Colonial rule in 1893? Which court tried a land dispute between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku in 1893?
The Anglican Church (CMS) in Asaba was founded in 1875 as an outstation of the Anglican Mission in Onitsha which was founded in 1857. The Roman Catholic Mission was founded in 1888 in Asaba. Ibusa stopped both missionaries from passing through to even Ogwashi-Uku. This explains why the Anglican Church took the Okpanam-Issele-Azagba axis to evangelize such towns as Okpanam, Akwukwu-Igbo, Atuma in Oshimili North Local Government Areas and other towns in Aniocha-North Local Government Area much earlier than Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku.
In fact, the Ekumeku uprising began in 1893 when the Roman Catholic Mission planted its Church in Issele-Uku on the invitation of the mother of the young Obi, in which those Chiefs opposed to the planting of the Church, invited Ibusa to help them sack both their Obi and the Roman Catholic Missionaries. It was in reward of that invitation that the Roman Catholic authorities created the present Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku against its original headquarters at Asaba.
For the benefit of the likes of Mr. Uche Nwankwo who are ignorant of their own history, up till 1898, when the Royal Niger Company Constabulary Force defeated Ibusa after three failed attempts, no Christian missionary ventured into Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku. The Royal Niger Company Government at Asaba never extended their authority beyond the confines of Asaba territory, safe for occasional visits into the interior of what was then called Asaba Interior District which were fraught with danger until the abrogation of their Charter on 12 Midnight, December 31, 1899.
The renowned Asaba-Born radical lawyer Dr. Felix Nwanze-Obi pointed out one of such episodes in 1888 during a visit to Ibusa by Royal Niger Company officials in his book, The British Occupation of the Niger Territories, page 68:
“In 1888 when on such a journey the carriers traveling with the officer of the Royal Niger company to Igbuzo, from Asaba refused to go further for reasons of their safety, one of the British officers ordered the first of the natives to speak, to be blown to pieces with explosive bullets, so as to teach the rest of the party a lesson. This incident was described and referred to in his letter dated March 22nd 1888 by Rev. H. Johnson, to Bishop Crowder.”
Prof J. C. Anene in his book, Southern Nigeria in Transition, 1885-1906 wrote concerning Ibusa at page 240: “The most formidable opposition to the spread of missionary work was centred on Ibusa, which was apparently the strongest of the Ika towns and was feared by the others.”
Similarly F. K. Ekechi in his book, Missionary Enterprise and Rivalry in Igbo land 1857-1914, wrote concerning Ibusa at page 169:
“As for Ibusa, the most powerful and most respected of the Ika towns in Asaba hinterland, Father Zappa felt that its subjugation would bring the other towns to heel. Having strongly opposed the Royal Niger Company’s interior drive in 1888, and also Roman Catholic overtures to work in the town, Father Zappa contended that the arrogant and notorious Chiefs of Ibusa needed to be humiliated.”
Ekechi went further at page 169 to describe the war of 1898 between Ibusa and the Royal Niger Company forces thus:
“According to Father Zappa, Ibusa forces proved so formidable that the eventual victory of the Niger Company’s army and the narrow escape of Major Feasting from death was the work of providence alone. Before Ibusa was constrained to sue for peace, some enemy forces had been killed and others wounded. Major feasting’s forces compelled Ibusa to capitulate by setting fire to their farms and by burning down several villages…”
Lie Number Two:
“There is an 1893 land case in the native courts that Ogwashi Ukwu won. Another in 1905 in the native courts again resolved in favour of Ogwashi. Yet another judgement in 1922 where Ogwashi Ukwu obtained and enforced a judgement on a substantial part of Ibusa.”
It is apropos to declare the mention of 1893 as a kindergarten fairy tale as earlier explained. It is also germane to describe the purported 1905 Native Court Judgment as an infantile fabricated mendacity. The reason is founded on the fact that the first Native Court in the entire Aniocha District was established in 1906 at Ibusa on the site presently occupied by Federal Government Girls’ College, Ibusa, which is situated on the original Ibusa-Ogwashi-Uku road. The land was originally appropriated for the West African Frontier Force Garrison in 1904 after the final defeat of Ibusa in the second Ekumeku uprising.
Indeed, that was the original headquarters of the Aniocha District Council, until 1911, when both the Garrison and Court were transferred to Ogwshi-Uku following the 1909 Obi Nzekwue-Okonjo kingship dispute. The same piece of land was later appropriated by the Roman Catholic Church in 1928 to found the once famous Saint Thomas’ Teachers’ College. Ironically Uche Nwankwo mentioned the judgment of 1922 which was enforced on a substantial part of Ibusa without mentioning those parts of Ibusa that were acquired by Ogwashi-Uku as a consequence of the said judgment.
Lie Number Three:
“A further judgement obtained in the high court Warri jurisdiction 1935 which was appealed to the West African Court of Appeal in Lagos. Again Ibusa lost that appeal in 1937”
The above judgment in question if Uche Nwankwo properly read and understands its contents, first was not a case between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku, but a declaratory suit originally filed by Obi Adigwe of Umuogwo Village, Umuekea Quarters, Ibusa against his Ogwashi-Uku tenant-farmer who refused to pay him his usual annual yam tithes as agreed according to custom on the instruction of Obi Ezenweani.
What Obi Ezenwani did was to take over the case from the man as the defendant. Thus the case became Obi Adigwe versus Obi Ezenweani for himself and on behalf of Ogwashi-Uku people. Ibusa never got involved because it was a personal suit over non-payment of yam-tithes by an Ogwashi-Uku tenant. In fact, worried by the fact that one person was suing an entire town in a land dispute, the British Judge decided to personally add Umuogwo Compound to Obi Adigwe. According to the Judge:
“I have allowed the writ to be amended to read “Obi Adigwe of Ibusa representing the Umuogwo Compound of Ibusa versus Obi Izediuno of Ogwashi-Uku substituted for Obi Ezenweani (deceased), sued in his personal capacity, and in his representative capacity on behalf of Ogwashi-Uku.”
What then was Obi Adigwe’s prayer before the Court against his Ogwashi-Uku tenant-farmer? Simply put, it states as follows:
“The Plaintiff claims a declaration of the title to land known as ‘Ondonkwu’ land situate in Asaba Division running along the boundary formed by ‘Enugu-Achi’ tree to ‘Okpu’ tree unto Ububakpa tree extending to ‘Agbonenonahen’ tree thence on a straight line to Ubu River valued at 100 pounds.”
In the process of the trial the Court left the original substance of the case and waded into the false claim that Nshi people crowned the Kings of Ibusa and so the payment of the yam tithes should be the other way round. Hence in dismissing the Obi Adigwe’s request for a declaration of his right to collect yam-tithe from his Ogwashi-Uku farmer-tenant, the Judge concluded ipso facto:
“The question of occupation of this land by Ibusa upon payment of tribute or rent or otherwise is however not a question that is now before this court for determination. It is for these reasons that I find that the Plaintiffs are not entitled to the declaration that they seek and I enter judgement for the defendants.”
The court’s refusal to grant Obi Adigwe’s request for a declaration of title over the land did not translate to the ownership of the land by Ogwashi-Uku but only left the issue of yam tithing unresolved, with Ogwashi-Uku counter-claiming that it was Ibusa people that paid yam tithes to Ogwashi-Uku. Thus in 1962 Ogwashi-Uku decided to file a new suit with emphasis on their ownership of the land, which they eventually lost, and continued to lose till date.
It is therefore necessary to inform Mr. Uche Nwankwo that the matter in the said non-enforceable declaratory judgment was not between Ibusa or Umuezemese and Ogwashi-Uku, but between an individual called Obi Adigwe and Ogwashi-Uku town. It was one individual asking the High Court to declare his ancestral piece of land being encroached upon by Ogwashi-Uku, his own. And in case Uche Nwankwo does not know, a declaratory suit originates as a primary action and not in form of an appeal to a subsisting judgment, as clearly explained in the Plaintiff’s statement of claim.
Furthermore, it is important to remind Mr. Uche Nwankwo that the fundamental significance of the above statement of claim by Obi Adigwe of Ibusa against Ogwashi-Uku is that it specifically mentioned Ubu River as a contentious issue in the suit, and not Oboshi River. There was no mention of Oboshi River as a defining landmark of boundary between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku throughout the proceedings of the suit. It is therefore historically and legally logical to state emphatically that the Ubu River thesis of boundary between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku remains valid till date.
Let me conclude by responding to Mr. Uche Nwankwo’s threat which he handed down in the following words:
“We all know our history and any further falsehoods from you would push us to put before the public documents obtained from the colonial office in London that reflects the accurate relationship that was in existence between Ogwashi Ukwu and Ibusa before and during the early colonial period.”
Well my first answer to the above homunculus threat is that this treatise represents another “falsehood”, to use his term, and I challenge Mr. Uche Nwankwo to race quickly to the Colonial Office in London to get his documents reflecting the alleged accurate relationship between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku during and before the British Colonial era. Let me not further open the lid of my gun-powder at this stage but wish to simply say I am waiting; although my waiting cannot be indefinite.
To be continued.
Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD
Odogwu of Ibusa Clan
Leader, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN)
Website: https://icac-gen.org Email: Nwaezeigwe.firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 04 December, 2023