Usman Akali Baba

By Frank Oshanugor

The elders  and people of Ogbe-Odogwu Community in Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State have called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba to quickly intervene and save their community from the reign of terror unleashed  by one of their citizens, Mr. Gabriel Ayibuofu Ohai who parades himself as the Odogwu (Warlord) of Ogwashi-Uku.

In a petition dated July 7, 2021,  signed by Mr. Okei Odogwu and other  Ogbe-Odogwu Elders-in-Council and sent to the police boss (copy of which was made available to the media), the community said their lives are now in danger as the self acclaimed Odogwu have begun to terrorize residents of the community who are opposed to his claim to the Odogwu title.

According to the petition sent to the Inspector General of Police, the elders said trouble began when there was a move by the Ogbe-Odogwu quarters to fill the vacant stool of Odogwu which by tradition is domiciled with that part of Ogwashi-Uku the administrative headquarters of Aniocha South Local Government Area.  The last holder of the Odogwu title had passed on, about twenty years ago and the stool had remained vacant until recent time when it became quite expedient to fill the position.

The petitioners contended that by tradition, a prospective Odogwu is usually selected through some spiritual and sacred processes after which the person is officially presented to the Ogwashi-Uku monarch (the King, known as Obi) for recognition and subsequent installation by the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.

The Ogbe-Odogwu elders alleged that Gabriel Ayibuofu Ohai who never showed interest or was shortlisted in the Odogwu position did not wait to observe the traditional process of selection but rather chose to usurp the position illegally by parading himself as the Odogwu ostensibly because he claimed to be an associate and the anointed of the Obi. They alleged that he terrorizes the community his members who unleashes violence to the unsuspecting citizens.  Moreso, the elders claimed to have learnt of the subtle support of the Ogwashi-Uku monarch, His Highness Obi Ifechukwude Anishi Okonjo to the self acclaimed Odogwu.

According to the elders, efforts to correct Ohai to tread  cautiously as he had chosen to breach the traditional process of selecting an Odogwu was flagrantly rebuffed. Consequent upon this, a letter was written by the Ogbe-Odogwu elders to the king drawing his attention to the wrong path chosen by Gabriel Ayibuofu Ohai and the need to retrace the step by calling him to order.

“In the same vein, we had expected the Highness to similarly uphold the tenets of the traditional institution he represents as the king of all Ogwashi-Uku indigenes, by not supporting illegality, but he chose to encourage Ohai for reasons best know to him, contrary to the existing tradition of Ogwashi-Uku,” the elders stated.

They contended further that Gabriel Ayibuofu Ohai has not passed through the traditional process and neither was he presented according to tradition to the king. For this reason, majority of the villagers who understand the tradition are opposed to the emergence of Ohai as the Odogwu of Ogwashi-Uku.

The elders revealed in their petition that because of Ohai’s intimidatory tendencies, some community members have joined him in his act of brigandage, cultism and all manner of violence. According to the petition sent to the Inspector General of Police, the self acclaimed Odogwu is a suspected member cum leader of the Aiye Confraternity and has succeeded in engaging some youths of the community into the cult.  He reportedly uses them to terrorise anyone opposed to his Odogwu title.

Some of the villagers who have allegedly backed Ohai in his reign of terror to the elders’ petition are Peter Ochei, Emeka Egwu, Pastor Ik Okelue, Chukwuka Omezie, Joseph Any Ndabai, Emma Ohai, Gab Nweke Ohai, Ego Nobel, Ngozi Okolie Ikenweji and Onyeayana Okocha.  All these people are said to be  collaborating with Gabriel Ayibuofu Ohai in his violent attempt to foist himself on   Ogbe-Odogwu and entire Ogwashi-Uku kingdom.

According to the elders, while some of the collaborators are of Ogbe-Odogwu extraction, the rest are strangers in the quarters. Ohai is said to have armed his cult members with unlawful firearms which they use indiscriminately such that the insecurity in Ogwashi-Uku is escalating by the day as the villagers are now very afraid to even go to their farms.

The petitioners stated that “despite the fact that his violent actions with members of his cult group are well known to security agencies in Ogwashi-Uku, the authorities here do not seem to have the means of taming him. He has a free reign in his terror activities and remains unchecked obviously because he has a god-father in person of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.”

The elders have therefore appealed to the Inspector General of Police to urgently intervene before the entire Ogwashi-Uku goes up in flames due to the terror activities of Ohai and group.

Meanwhile, as at the time of filling this report, sources close to the petitioners said no fewer than nine persons in Ogwashi-Uku who are opposed to the self acclaimed Odogwu have been arrested by police in Ogwashi-Uku and transferred to the Delta State Police headquarters in Asaba.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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