HRH Igwe Michael Ugorji Okonkwo Etusi: Accused of threats to lives, destruction of property
EZIOWELLE, is a relatively known community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State in South East Nigeria.
Nevertheless, it was shot into limelight about two years ago, not for exemplary act in the art of governance at the community level, nor for serious development strides, but for inhuman, ungodly and tyrannical leadership of the community by HRH Igwe Michael Ugorji Okonkwo Etusi(the Owelle 2) of Eziowelle and the President General, Eziowelle Improvement Union(EIU) Barr. Nnabuike Titus Akpudo.
The Igwe in Council had acquired an unenviable reputation of riding roughshod over the peace loving indigenes of Eziowelle town, and had completely abandoned the ordinary rules of prudence in their engagement with their people, and like the Egyptian task masters, had subjected them to unbearable hardships by all manner of extortion, intimidation and harassment.
The English philosopher, Edmund Burke, once said that ” for evil to triumph, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.”
Therefore, on 4th July, 2018, some indigenes of the community who could not endure further the humiliation, led by Chief Felix Okafor, and Emeka Akukwe, held a press conference at Awka where they accused the leadership of Eziowelle of arbitrary imposition of one million Naira levy on every bereaved family before they could bury their deceased member.
They also allegedly imposed another one million Naira on any indigene who wanted to start a foundation for his/her personal house.
And failure to do so, the Town Union Executive will mobilise their foot soldiers to attack the person and demolish the foundation.
Consequently, families who could not meet up their demands abandoned the corpses of their loved ones in the mortuaries for a long time until the youth of the community intervened.
scene of demolition
This year again, while the bubbles raised by the burial and the foundation levy had not settled down fully, HRH Igwe Michael Ugorji Okonkwo Etusi and the President General, Barr. Titus Akpudo, propelled by greed and avarice devised another ingenious plan to enrich themselves forgetting the fact that honest men do not turn themselves into dogs for the sake of the bone.
Basking in the euphoria as the custodians of the culture and traditions of Eziowelle, the duo decided to forcibly acquire a vast expanse of Ugwu Mkpuenyi land, appropriate it to themselves without the consent of Enugo Umunnama clan who claimed to be the owners of the land.
Our investigation revealed that in August 2020, the people of Enugo Umunnama clan of Eziowelle, woke up in the morning to begin their normal day activities only to discover to their chagrin that caterpillars and bulldozers accompanied by the foot soldiers of the Igwe and the PG were moving into the Ugwu Mkpuenyi land demolishing every structure including the economic trees along their way.
The perimeter fencing of plots of land belonging to some members of the Enugo Umunnama clan was also demolished in the process.
The people affected by this brazenness have challenged the authority of the Igwe to acquire their land forcibly in a civil suit filed at Ogidi High court, Anambra State.
They have also petitioned the police at Zone 13 Ukpo in Dunukofia LGA of Anambra State; against threat to life and malicious damage to their properties by the Igwe and the PG and their hireling, Adidibor and Company, an Awka based real estate firm.
Reliable information from Zone 13 shows that the police had begun full scale investigation into the matter.
Beyond this, some individuals and other villages had experienced similar treatment over their ancestral lands from the Igwe on the premise that as the traditional ruler of Eziowelle, and the custodian of the culture and traditions of the people, he also has the right to oversee all the lands in Eziowelle irrespective of the ownership.
Sources close to zone 13 Police Headquarters in Ukpo said that there are multiple cases against the Igwe and the PG pending at the station, but that the duo are not bothered in the least because they usually compromise Police Investigation Officers (IPOs) and subsequently get away with such cases.
One source said that if any IPO refuses to do their bidding, the Igwe and co will petition the AIG to transfer such officer out of the zone.
Mrs. Uchendu, a CPS at the zone was one of the few officers who stood their grounds and refused to compromise her integrity for pecuniary consideration. Igwe Ugorji filed a petition against her, requesting her transfer from the zone.
Be that as it may, the IPO investigating the current case of threast to lives and malicious damage to the properties of some members of Enugo Umunnama Clan, Inspector Yemi Ayegbelu, however, disclosed that the Igwe and members of his cabinet including the PG had denied ever demolishing anybody’s property nor threatened anyone.
Nevertheless, he stated that the surveyor accepted that he demolished the perimeter fencing even when the fence did not constitute an obstacle in executing the job given to him by the real estate firm contracted by Igwe and the PG.
Meanwhile, the IPO further disclosed that he had not concluded his investigation, but all the suspects have made statements.
At the age of 80 plus, one wonders what really might be driving HRH Igwe Michael Ugorji Okonkwo Etusi the Owelle all of Eziowelle and the father of the community to the point of being the centrifugal force pervading his community, instead of a uniting force and factor.
According to the Roman philosopher CICERO (106-43BC), “ it is in the nature of every man to err, but only the fool perseveres in error.”
This ought not to be the case of a traditional ruler of a community and the custodian of the culture and traditions of his people.
But in an age of culture of impunity at all levels of societal structures in Nigeria, strange things happen, like the imposition of one million Naira burial levy, acquisition of community’s lands disregarding the ancestral ownership which is embedded in Igbo culture by people whose credo is that might is right, and of course Eziowelle being a microcosm of the larger society cannot be insulated from the trend.
The bottom line of all these are greed, selfish and self centredness and inordinate ambition. Ambition is like hunger, it obeys no law but its appetite
Finally, delusion is a very dangerous human phenomenon. It gives one false sense of pride and an air of invincibility.
Most victims of delusion are usually indiscreet and ill-natured.
In his book The SPECTATOR, Joseph Addison postulated that an indiscreet man is more hurtful than the ill-natured man, for the ill-natured only attacks his enemies and those he wishes to ill, but the other injures indiscriminately both his friends and foes. Eziowelle beware.
Cally Ebue, journalist, wrote from Enugu