Onitsha – The Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu, has broken a 233 years record by ruling that the kingship of Ogidi in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State was not an exclusive preserve for the Amobi family in the town.
•Igwe Onyido (third right) flanked on his left by Onowu Ogidi, Chief Ifeanyi Udokwu
Historically, the kingship stool had been in the Amobi family since 1838, when His Royal Highness, Igwe Walter Okafor Okerulu Nwatakwochaka Amobi became the first traditional ruler of the town and reigned until his demise on December 18, 1925.
His father, Abraham Amobi was born in 1806, and was one of the first people to encounter the Church missionaries from England and embrace Christianity, when they arrived in Onitsha through the River Niger. He later became the first catechist in Ogidi. His son, Igwe Walter Okafor Amobi I of Ogidi had the rare opportunity of being exposed to Christian education and culture before he was assassinated in his house in Enugu about 19 years ago in 1998 over suspected kingship tussle in Ogidi.
However, the Appeal Court has ended the 19-year old chieftaincy tussle in favour of Ogidi Union Nigeria, , OUN, which insisted that the kingship was not hereditary to the Amobi Royal family.
In a unanimous judgement in favour of Ogidi Union.
In a unanimous judgement read by Justice Martin Elechi, last Thursday, the appellate court reaffirmed the December 12, 2012 judgement earlier delivered by an Ogidi High Court in favour of the Ogidi Union to the effect that the kingship stool was not hereditary to the Amobis.
Dismissing the appeal filed by the Amobi family challenging the Ogidi High court judgement for lack of merit, the Appeal Court said it relied on the constitution of Ogidi Union which stated that any Ogidi man from the four quarters was eligible to contest the Igweship position as the throne was not hereditary.
The court maintained that although the royal throne started from Amobi family and remained there for many years until the demise of Igwe Walter Amobi about 19 years ago, it did not mean that the throne should be an exclusive property of the Amobi family, as canvassed by the appellants.
In his reaction shortly after the court session, a senior member of the legal team to the Ogidi Union, Ifeatu Obi-Okoye who held brief for Ilochi Okafor, SAN, commended the court for what he described as its erudite judgement. It was not however, known whether the Amobi family would proceed to the Supreme Court as the lead Counsel to the family, Emeka Offordile, SAN, did not indicate so.
But, back home at Ogidi, the royal father of the town, Igwe Alex Onyido, a pharmacist, commenced the celebration of his maiden annual ofala cultural festival to bring the activities marking his ascendancy to the royal throne to conclusion.
Onyido and his entire cabinet members, including the traditional Prime Minister of Ogidi, Onowu Ifeanyi Udokwu, the President-General of OUN, Chief Jideofor Onubuogu and the Okparaeke Ogidi, Chief Emeka Ben Nwabueze, were in a festive mood following the Appeal Court verdict.
Both the royal father, his Onowu, Udokwu and Onubuogu, told newsmen during the festival that about N100 million would be spent for youth empowerment and peace restoration as soon as the celebration was over.