…Ibusa Might Be Forced to Enforce the Supreme Court Judgment on Ubu River Natural Boundary Between the Two Communities
By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD
I read from Daily Post online news media dated 26 November, 2023 a news headline titled, “Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom issues Admiralty University 30-day ultimatum to change address.”
In truth I consider this act of what I rightly refer to as legal brigandage as a fraudulent political conduit-pipe clandestinely designed by some mischief-makers and traditional con-men in Ogwashi-Uku to extort the unsuspecting novel Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, His Royal Highness Obi Ifechukwude Aninshi Okonjo II, who is in desperate need of recognition within and outside Ogwashi-Uku.
In recent past we have noticed this fresh monarch being dragged against the customs and tradition of his throne to personally confront the people of Issele-Asagba over the ownership of Otulu town which historically does not belong to Ogwashi people.
The other time it was the same Obi being dragged to lay claim to a portion of land belonging to Ewulu town. This time around the same Obi is in the news issuing fabulous threat to a non-traditional entity—Admiralty University, Ibusa over the expanse of land housing it, instead of directing the threat to Ibusa people who granted the right of occupation to the University. Haba Your Royal Highness!
In the said news report, the Chairman of the Governing Council, the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar of Admiralty University, Ibusa, were issued an ultimatum by one Barrister J. O. Ojobu, lawyer to Obi of Ogwashi-Uku and Obi-in-Council dated November 21, 2023, to forthwith change the address of the University from Ibusa to Ogwashi-Uku within 30 days or risk legal action.
Ironically the argument advanced for the said ultimatum is founded on two wobbly non-legal grounds, which characteristically exposed the intellectual Lilliputism of Barrister J. O. Ojobu, a testimonial to the decadent root of the Judiciary in Nigeria; since it will not be uncommon to see lawyers like Barrister J. O. Ojobu appointed Supreme Court Judges in the near future.
The first ground is based on the abstract map of what he describes as the constitutional boundary of Aniocha South Local Government Area where Ogwashi-Uku is located and, Oshimili North Local Government Area in which Ibusa is situated as delineated according to the constitutional 774 Local Governments of the Federation, in which Oboshi River is ignorantly alleged as the constitutional boundary of the two Local Government Areas and by extension the boundary between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku. In his conclusion to this pseudo-legal political contraption, Barrister Ojobu concluded:
“This river also forms the natural boundary between the Ogwashi-Uku and Ibusa Communities. As Admiralty University which is uncontestably located in Aniocha South local government area which is a constitutional issue, it cannot be located in Ibusa (Oshimili North local government).”
The second ground which was advanced by the Palace Secretary to Obi Ogwashi Prince Ifeakanachukwu Emordi, attempted to blackmail the erstwhile Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Dele Ezeoba by accusing him of forcible appropriation of the land housing Admiralty University from Ogwashi-Uku people. According to him, “The land given to Admiralty University was forcefully seized by Admiral Ezeoba who was from Ibusa and he used military men to intimidate members of the Ogwashi-Uku community.”
In the first instance, it is my considered opinion that the said ultimatum directed at the Chairman of the Governing Council, the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar of Admiralty University is not just a misguided transfer of aggression but a pitiable cowardly act on the part of its authors. Admiralty University does not own the land on which it is planted by right of traditional heirloom but by right of grant from the people of Ibusa.
Telling the administration of Admiralty University to change its address is like telling a tenant to change the street name and number of his residence without reference to his landlord or the orders of a court of competent jurisdiction.
Secondly, J. O. Ojobu’s claim that Oboshi River forms the natural boundary between Oshimili North Local Government Area and Aniocha South Local Government Area and for that reason Admiralty belongs to Ogwashi-Uku, is ignorance driven to far and to the highest point of infantile mischief. Has J. O. Ojobu suddenly forgotten that the original limit of Delta State Capital Territory of which Ibusa forms a part and which Ogwashi-Uku is not part of, is set at the outskirts of Aboh-Ogwashi with a monumental concrete signpost defining same and which by the same token traditionally, historically and legally defines the boundary between Ibusa and Ogwashi-Uku?
But if we accept as J. O. Ojobu claimed, that Oboshi River forms the constitutional boundary between Oshimili North Local Government Area and Aniocha Local Government Area, why then is Ogwashi-Uku not originally part of Asaba State Capital Territory? Again, if we accept J. O. Ojobu’s homunculus contraption that Oboshi River forms the boundary between Aniocha South Local Government Areas, does that preclude the land running from Oboshi River to the outskirts of Aboh Ogwashi from belonging to Ibusa?
Does the Nigerian Constitution preclude a town from belonging to more than one Local Government Area? Agbor Urban belongs to two Local Government Areas—Ika South and Ika Northeast. Onitsha town belongs to three Local Government Areas—Onitsha North, Onitsha South and, Ogbaru.
The town of Ngwo in Enugu State sits astride two Local Government Areas—Udi and Enugu North. The town of Arondizuogu with its eleven Autonomous Communities belongs to three Local Government Areas—Ideato North, Okigwe and, Onuimo. What then is the big deal having a part of Ibusa constituting part of Aniocha South Local Government Area?
Indeed, if truly as J. O. Ojobu claimed, that Oboshi River forms the boundary between Oshimili North and Aniocha South Local Government Areas, then it means Ibusa should partake not only in the sharing of the resources accruing to Aniocha South Local Government Area but present her representatives in the running of the affairs of the Local Government as well as seek elective political offices.
In other words, Ibusa is willing to cede a part of her territory running from the west bank of Oboshi River to the eastern limit of Aboh-Ogwashi which forms her traditional boundary with Ogwashi-Uku, to Aniocha South Local Government Area as an administrative unit without ceding same to Ogwashi-Uku.
The reason to that effect is clear. The ownership of every piece of land extending from Ibusa to about twenty meters west of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom has been settled in favor of Ibusa against Ogwashi-Uku in a plethora of cases running from the Colonial Native Court system up to the present-day Supreme Court.
In fact in all these plethora of litigations between the two communities Oboshi River never featured among the numerous landmark claims and counter-claims. In the first episode of the litigations highlighted by Warri High Court Suit No. AW/6/1935 and subsequently concluded at the West African Court of Appeal judgment of January 13, 1937, all in favor of Ibusa, what featured in Ogwashi-Uku claim was that the town of Ibusa never existed in the first instance and that Ogwashi-Uku shared boundary with Asaba at Asha-Okpulukpu (Okpulukpu Market) in Ibusa. This claim was soundly defeated.
In the second episode, which began in 1962 when His Royal Highness Obi Izediuno Ezewani sued Ibusa again in Suit No B/44/62. In response Ibusa counter-sued Ogwashi-Uku in Suit No B/46/62. Both cases were consequently consolidated under Suit No B/47/62. Ibusa again won the case; including at the Appeal Court, and subsequently at the Supreme Court in Suit No SC.272/1966.
But what was most remarkable in the 1962 Suit and which perpetually reflects the trajectory of all the post-1962 cases is that, in that case, Ibusa adopted Ubu River in Ogwashi-Uku as her natural boundary with Ogwashi-Uku people, a claim which the Court upheld in favor of Ibusa.
This Ubu River boundary thesis was re-echoed in paragraph 10 of Chief F. R. A. Williams, SAN’s counter-submission for Ibusa against the submissions of G. O. K. Ajayi, SAN for Ogwashi-Uku in Supreme Court Suit No Sc.32/1985: Ezewani and Ors v Onwordi and Ors, delivered in favor of Ibusa against Ogwashi-Uku on Friday 27 June, 1986 and presided by Justice Andrew Otutu Obaseki, JSC and with the lead judgment read by Justice Boony Amin Oladiran Kazeem, JSC. Interestingly, the panel included such known respected Supreme Court Judges as Justice Anthony Nnamezie Aniagolu, JSC, Justice Augustine Nnamani, JSC, and Justice Chukwudifu Akunne Oputa, JSC.
In his counter-submission, Chief F. R. A. Williams noted: “In the consolidated suits both the plaintiffs and the defendant gave and relied on their traditional history. The learned trial judge found as a fact that Ubu Stream is the natural boundary between the plaintiffs and the defendant. The Plaintiffs will rely on those findings of facts.”
It is indeed an irony of legal trouncing that G. O. K. Ajayi, SAN, standing for the people of Ogwashi-Uku did not counter this Ubu River boundary thesis before those Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, thereby making it to subsist till date.
The implication of this thesis is that every land running north of Ubu River into the heart of Ogwashi-Uku town belongs to Ibusa. And considering the extent of Ubu River from its source west of Ogwashi-Uku, this includes the entire town of Ogwashi-Uku. The ball is now in the court of Ibusa to decide whether to pursue the is Ubu River boundary thesis to its logical conclusion, which might lead to declaring the present Ogwashi-Uku town part of Ibusa town.
Indeed, there is copious historical evidence that prove that what constitutes Ogwashi-Ukwu town today was part of Ibusa, which was later bequeathed to Ikelike Quarters—the traditional head Quarter of Ogwashi-Uku, as will be proved in the subsequent parts of this essay. This assertion is a truism fundamentally founded on the inherent cloudy nature of Ogwashi-Uku oral tradition as adduced from the proceedings of the 1962 cases.
Landing his legal hammer with force on the fictitious oral tradition of Ogwashi-Uku people, the trial judge of the 1962 case stated:
“Again, I am far more impressed with the traditional evidence of Ibusa people than that of the defendant, and at no time could Umejei and his wife be slaves of anybody, needless to say of Adaigbo who owned no slaves. Although traditional evidence is of oral nature, there is no fundamental basis or available material for the view held by Ogwashi-Ukwu people about their closest neighbours, the Ibusa community. What strikes me as rather strange is that although the people of Ogboli Quarter are their blood relations nobody from that quarter came to court to testify.
Further, I am not convinced at all there was any time the plaintiffs as a people, took tributes to the Obi of Ogwashi-Ukwu for farming on the latter’s land. It could be possible that a few Ibusa men who went beyond the boundary line did so, but that could not be held that the plaintiffs had thereby become tenants of the defendant’s community. That evidence was invented but it was always rejected in all the case between the two communities. This shows that the defendant’s community desperately invented materials to support a non-exist claim to claim Ibusa land.”
To be continued.
Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD
Odogwu of Ibusa
Leader, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN)
Website: https://icac-gen.org Email: Nwaezeigwe.firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 27 November, 2023