Ogwashi-Uku Chieftain Expresses Disappointment Over Police Attitude On Traditional Title Crisis

Chief Gabriel Ohai, Odogwu of Ogwashi-Uku

By Braxton Ilobah

The crisis that erupted at Ogwashi-Uku, headquarters of Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State a few months ago over the choice of Odogwu (traditional war Lord) is still lingering in spite of declarations by authorities of the Delta State Police Command that they would not leave any stone unturned in resolving the issue and bringing to book anyone found culpable.

The Odogwu, Chief Gabriel Ohai whose property estimated at over N500m were destroyed by his kinsmen last June, in a statement made available to the press on Tuesday said the attitude of the officers of the Delta State Police Command has become suspicious and worrisome as nothing reasonable had been done towards bringing to justice those behind the attack on him including the wanton destruction of his houses, cars, agricultural farm settlement where over 3000 birds, 168 pigs, 125 goats and many other things were set ablaze.

According to him, the initial enthusiasm shown by the Delta State Police authorities over the matter has ironically become misplaced as those purportedly arrested by the police had nothing to do with the June 24, 2021 attack and destruction of his property but another incident that took place in 2020.

He wondered why police authorities even from Force Headquarters have not bothered to investigate the activities of a serving Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Chike Louis Nwabua who holds the traditional title of Odafe of Ogwashi-Uku.

Chief Ohai contended that since the ACP who serves at the FCT Command, Abuja became the Odafe, Azungwu Quarters of Ogwashi-Uku has never known peace as he goes on, to appropriate people’s land to himself through intimidatory approach.

The Odogwu, a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and astute agric entrepreneur, wondered why police would suddenly want to see him as the problem whereas, he was the one attacked by those opposed to his choice and installation as the Odogwu of Ogwashi-Uku by the King of the town, His Royal Majesty, Obi Ifechukwude Aninshi Okonjo.

He said in the statement that “it is a natural thing for any aggrieved person on any issue particularly as it affects traditional title to seek redress in the law court but not to resort to physical attack and destruction of properties as done to me as if the Odogwu title is a matter of life and death.”

As grievous as the offence of his attackers has been, Chief Ohai could not see the reason why it would take the police about six months of no arrest, no prosecution of suspects in the matter despite providing them with every necessary information.

It would be recalled that following the installation of Gabriel Ohai as the Odogwu of Ogwashi-Uku by the King, some of his kinsmen who felt that he was not the right choice had resorted to violence by attacking Gabriel and anyone who supported him in spite of the fact that the King recognised and installed him the Odogwu in a ceremony at Ogwashi-Uku.

According to the Odogwu, his elder brother Mr. Hyacinth Ohai; a serving public servant had precipitated the crisis by joining forces with his opponents out of envy.

Following the massive destruction of property belonging to Gabriel by his kinsmen, the Delta State Police Commissioner, Ari Mohammed Ali had told newsmen in an interview about three months ago that he was ready to deal with those who embarked on such destruction since the right thing for any aggrieved person to do, would have been to seek redress in court.

Chief Ohai in his statement contended further that ACP Chike Louis Nwabuwa became very vigorous in his anti Odogwu attack the moment he collected annual rent from tenant farmers at Ogbe Odogwu camps through his surrogates (Odafe in council). This, he said was an act that is totally against the “tenets of our tradition and amounts to usurpation of the office/functions of the Odogwu of Ogwashi-Uku.”

Recalling the incident of June, 2021 the Odogwu stated that his attackers first killed his uncle and personal Chief of staff, Mr. Peter Ohai, attacked and displaced 21 supporters of the Odogwu within the Ogbe Odogwu community.

Obviously displeased with the insecurity of lives and properties and total disregard for human rights in Azungwu Quarters, the Odogwu disclosed that the process of emergence of ACP Chike Louis Nwabuwa as the Odafe was more controversial than his, as Odogwu, hence a court case demanding his removal from the Odafe stool is going on at present.

He added the Odafe title given to Nwabuwa was earlier vacated by a native court in Ogwashi-Uku known as Ikelike.

The Odogwu stated further that “it is public knowledge that Chike vowed to use his position in the police to frustrate investigation into the cases of murder, arson, rape, malicious damage, human rights abuses, attempted murder etc that were reported by me and my people.”

“He has also threatened to incriminate me by every possible means, use his men to throw up frivolous charges against me, put me in prison and disable me from addressing the Gross injustice meted on me and my people.”

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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