CHUKWUEMEKA EZEIFE— From the Pits of Apprentice-Aba ((Nwa-Boyi) Motor-Parts Trader to the Pinnacle of State Governor and Igbo Leadership

Part Four

 

 

Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD

Odogwu of Ibusa Clan

Leader, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN)

Website: https://icac-gen.org  Email: [email protected]

Date: 26 December, 2023

 

When I got to the venue and introduced myself as the leader of Igbo People’s Congress (IPC) and that I was sent by the OPC leader Dr. Frederick Faseun to investigate the conflict surrounding the sale of the house, it was like a messiah had arrived. The whole tenants immediately trooped down to listen to me, including the embattled owner of the property Mr. Michael Ololo-Ogwu who unfortunately had hearing problem. I assured them that so long as I remained in Lagos, provided their case was genuine, nobody would quit them from the building, and that all I needed from them was the truth of the matter and nothing but the truth.

The tenants then narrated their ordeal in the hands of the OPC and how they managed to invite the Police to save them and subsequently rescued their landlord from Yaba Psychiatric Hospital. The young man who owned the property informed me that his father was Chief Michael Ololo-Ogwu from Umuahia who was once the owner and proprietor of Metropolitan College, Isolo, which Lagos State Government took over and renamed Isolo Secondary School, and that his name also was Michael Ololo-Ogwu as his father named him after him.

According to him his mother Madam Rosalyn Ololo-Ogwu divorced his father and bought a land at Ajangbadi, Lagos State, where she built a house and lived with his two younger brothers and a sister, while he lived with his father alone, against his mother’s instruction to join her. His father’s second wife who was married later after his mother’s divorce on the other hand chose to live in his father’s second property close to his former school, which his father bequeathed to her and her children, while bequeathing the said building in dispute to him. I looked closely at the documents of the building, I discovered that they bore the name “Michael Ololo-Ogwu” which was the same name borne by both the young man and his late father.

Being an Igbo, I was aware of the guiding principle of inheritance regarding the first son and thus there was no arguing the matter to the effect that the said property rightfully belonged to the man’s eldest son according to Igbo customs and tradition; although with slight adjustment from the Ohafia/Abiriba axis of Cross River Igbo sub-group where mixed matrilineal and patrilineal pattern of inheritance is observed. But like the rest part of Igboland, in Ohuhu-Ngwa axis of the Southern Igbo Sub-group of which Umuahia forms a part, the patrilineal pattern of inheritance holds sway

Thus by the same token the house belonged to the young man as the eldest son of Chief Michael Ololo-Ogwu, a fact which his mother and younger siblings were aware of, hence their dubious attempt to disenfranchise him of that right by criminally inducing a state of insanity in him at the Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba; since Lagos State laws permit the exclusion of a mentally challenged person from the management and sale of his property by his relatives.

The young man equally informed me that when one of his younger brothers brought the sum of two hundred thousand naira to him as his share of the sale of the building, he simply told him that he did not understand what he was saying because he never dreamt of selling his property and consequently drove him away with the money. He further stated that his mother had earlier warned him that she would deal with him after his father’s death and that was exactly what she was doing in collusion with his younger brothers.

Satisfied with my investigations, I returned to Dr. Faseun the following day to report my findings. After jointly analyzing the result of my investigations we agreed to invite all the concerned parties for a fact-finding dialogue and eventual settlement of the problem. When I informed the young man that we would be going to Century Hotel to settle his matter before Dr. Faseun he flatly refused to go, insisting instead that he would prefer to be killed by the OPC in his house where people would see his dead body than at the OPC headquarters.

Even some of his leading tenants invited to join the meeting were initially afraid to go. I however eventually succeeded in convincing them to the contrary, assuring them of their security so long as I was with them. I further informed them that I was going to invite some leaders of the Igbo-Speaking Community in Lagos State to join us, since we needed some important Igbo personalities to support their case.

Thereafter I went ahead and pleaded with the President of Igbo-Speaking Community in Lagos State Chief Uche Momah with some members of his executive committee, as well as the leaders of Tejuoso Market Igbo Traders’ Association to join me in the defence of the young man before the OPC leader, after briefing them the position of the matter. I was confident that with these men, I would be able to stand my grounds in defence of my oppressed brother. But I was swimming in the Ocean of fantasy, since these men turned out to be the very expression of                                                             infantile cowardice contrary to instinctive Igbo culture of bravery.

With OPC militants mounted everywhere at Century Hotel, my entourage right from the entrance of the Hotel were caught between the cowardly decision to turn back or attend the meeting with the mind-set of “yes” to everything Dr. Faseun would say. They eventually chose the latter. When we eventually gathered at Century Hotel for the dialogue, the first frontal assault against me came from the young man’s Ngwa-born mother who threatened me with hell and brimstones for interfering in their family matter. Well, I calmly responded by reminding her that there were stronger witches than her in my hometown who would not dare threaten me.

After presentations by the three parties—Mr. Michael Ololo- Ogwu, his mother, and Mr. Akintomide the buyer, it was obvious that the business was not only illegal but criminally conceived. But oftentimes truth becomes an orphan where lies are borne on the shoulders of the king and the people would have no alternative but to accept such lies as royal tradition. That was what the matter turned out to be. Dr. Faseun had accepted the fact of both the illegality and criminality of the transactions during our in-house analysis of my investigations.

However, finding himself torn between his sentimental attachment to his Yoruba kinsman whose cause he had sworn to defend in the face of challenges from other ethnic groups, and the naked truth of a business transaction constructed on the thoroughfare of unconcealed criminality, he immediately sought a soft-landing pad for his buyer-kinsman. Indeed that was the first time I saw Dr. Faseun propelled unethically by ethnic sentiments, clearly swerving off the course of his habitual sublime objective mind-set.

Instead of looking at the merit of the case as we agreed prior to the meeting, he immediately sought respite from Yoruba tradition of inheritance in order to provide a ground of legality to the transaction by declaring that since the property was situated on Yorubaland the Yoruba tradition of inheritance in which all the siblings have equal rights to their father’s property should apply in the case. Short of reminding him our earlier position on the matter, I rejected it out rightly, insisting that location does not change the  basis of one’s tradition of inheritance and that as the first son, the building which his father lived—Obi belongs unquestionably to him. This is Igbo tradition and must be applied in this case.

The young man lived with his father in the same property till the latter’s death; while his other siblings camped with their divorcee-mother in Ajangbadi even as their father was still alive. It would therefore be the height of injustice, breach of our time-honoured customs and tradition, as well as an act of criminality without bounds, for the same people who abandoned their father, to collude with their mother who equally abandoned her husband, to appropriate the property without the consent of the first son who still lived in the same house.

The buyer in accepting Dr. Faseun’s position promised to increase Mr. Michael Ololo-Ogwu’s share of the sale to five hundred thousand naira. The Igbo leaders I invited to be on my side who had all the while kept mute with jaundiced submission immediately took sides with Dr. Faseun against me and supported the proposal that Mr. Michael Ololo-Ogwu should collect the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Naira to save his life. I looked at them bemused with utter disbelief but nevertheless stood my ground, rejecting both Dr. Faseun’s thesis of Yoruba tradition of inheritance and the concessionary five hundred thousand naira.

When I discovered that I was alone in the entire house, I then decided that the only way to abort the dastard decision was to beat a quick tactical retreat. Consequently, I requested an adjournment to enable the young man study their proposal, since by Igbo custom, land matters are not often settled in one day. They agreed and the meeting was subsequently adjourned to another date. As we stepped out of the Hotel, the Igbo leaders were just gazing at me in bewilderment, expecting me to utter a word to them. I simply returned the gaze with a disgusting hiss and beckoned on Mr. Michael Ololo-Ogwu to entire my car and we drove off.

It is again important to note that on the adjournment of the meeting, Mrs. Rosalyn Ololo-Ogwu vowed that I would not live to come to the next meeting. I simply ignored the threat and moved ahead with my plan to scuttle the next meeting, including the entire peace process and devise another strategy to help the young man re-possess his inheritance.

As soon as we got home, I immediately drafted a petition on behalf of Michael Ololo-Ogwu to Itire Divisional Police Station reporting a case of attempted murder by his mother and siblings, and went further to direct him to immediately consult a lawyer, which he did, enlisting a member of his Assemblies of God’s Church, Ikate, Surulere Lagos, where his family used to worship. The lawyer immediately filed a civil proceeding against the sale of the house at Lagos State High Court and subsequently secured an Ex-parte Injunction restraining the buyer from taking possession of the building pending the outcome of the Motion on notice (Interlocutory Injunction), which was later granted. It is important to note that I was a star-witness in the said case which both his mother and siblings failed to attend even as the sellers of the disputed property.

Armed with the petition and evidence of the pending High Court suit, I informed the young man that I had cancelled the meeting and that he should stay back at home to save his life while I drove to inform Dr. Faseun of the new development. True to the woman’s threat, at the service lane of the busy Palm Grove Bus Stop, I had a collision with a kombi bus in which both my front fender and the passengers’ door of the bus pulled off.

Within a short moment I saw myself engaged in a scuffle with both the conductor and the driver in their attempt to carte away my fender. In the process we blocked the road and caused a serious traffic-jam. It was then that the Police arrived at the scene and stopped the scuffle and further ordered us to pull off our vehicles aside to open up the traffic flow. I then informed them that my car had ignition problem and so could not start unless pushed. I was ordered to enter the car immediately to enable them push it off the road.

Having secured my damaged fender at the back seat of my car, as soon as they pushed the car I pushed the gear lever to number two, released the clutch and zoomed off on the open road and within some few minutes landed at Century Hotel; just as Mrs. Ololo-Ogwu was leaving the premises. When I arrived at Century Hotel, I calmly informed Dr. Faseun that the meeting would be temporarily suspended, since it would amount to sub-judice, brandishing before him the copy of the petition and court processes. He looked at me in rage and said, so Tony you stabbed me at the back, and I said not so Baba but the point was that I could not stop the young man from taking decisions that would help his case and save his life. That was how the battle for the property was transferred to the High Court, thereby saving Mr. Michael Ololo-Ogwu from further harassment from the OPC as well as the illegal dispossession of the house.

It was indeed in the course of these activities involving the protection of Igbo lives and property, which also included numerous appearances on national radio and television channels, as well as newspapers, singularly and jointly with Dr. Frederick Faseun that Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife sent a note to me through someone inviting me to his modest Awolowo Road, Ikoyi office. We soon blended without difficulties as father and son. From his office he called Rear Admiral Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu to invite me to his office. He later invited me to his residence then at Apapa, Lagos. When he decided to relocate to Abuja he called me and promised that the struggles would continue from there as in Lagos, a promise he never failed.

From that point the two noble patriots of Igboland, now gone to the land of our revered ancestors, became my political god-fathers. It was indeed Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu who introduced me to Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe whose office lies on the same Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. Unfortunately Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe is not the active one in national politics. Rear Admiral Kanu later invited me to address the creams of Aka-Ikenga in Lagos State in his office with such personalities as Pini Jason, Oscar Onwudiwe and Pat Utomi in attendance. Indeed it was through Admiral Kanu that I first came into close contact with Prof Pat Utomi who incidentally hails from my hometown, Ibusa.

There was no serious topical issue of public Igbo concern that Okwadike did not call my attention to for appropriate action where necessary. There was also no special assignment that I believe Okwadike would provide the necessary image and dignity of Ndigbo that I invited him which he failed to attend. Indeed Okwadike was the only Igbo leader, Elder-leader par excellence, one in one million, whose mindset pugnaciously propels my mindset into action with no financial strings attached. The only assignment which Okwadike handed to me and which I am yet to address fully is the trending Obu-Gad Igbo-Jewish historical scam of Umuezeora Village, Aguleri; and I am hoping to do so in no distant time.

When Femi Fani-Kayode wrote his hate-filled and debasing tirade against Ndigbo casting aspersions on the person and dignity of Mrs. Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu nee C. C. Onoh, on the pages of the Vanguard newspapers, Okwadike immediately called me   and said: “Odogwu have you read what Fani-kayode is dishing out against Ndigbo on the Vanguard, can’t you do something about it?” And I said I can Okwadike; and he said then do something. The results of that sublime instruction from Okwadike were the following two articles: 1.)  “FEMI FANI-KAYODE: Haunted By Nupe Ancestry— Fighting A Foggy Yoruba Identity Complex”, Africanewscircle— Africa and the World in Perspective, www.africanewscircle.com/category/opinion;Newsafrica,www.newsafrica.com/en/search/nigeria, and 2.) “Femi Abdulateef Fani-Kayode- Now that Fashola has Apologized”, October 31, 2013, 247ureports, www.247ureports.com/femi-abdulateef-fani-kayode-now-that-fashola-has-apologized

When Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was released on bail and was coming to Okwadike for consultations, Okwadike instructed me to appear in his house at Igbo-Ukwu that night to give the young man my own piece of advice. Unfortunately I was indisposed and chose instead to offer my candid advice through Okwadike, which I believe if Nnamdi Kanu had adhered to he would not be in the present mess.

Okwadike went with the former Minister of Education Prof I. C. Madubuihe to my Vice Chancellor Prof Benjamin Chukwuma Ozumba and demanded for the release of my frozen salary following the inability of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) to arrest me. Unfortunately the Vice Chancellor was in a helpless situation since the decision to stop the salary came from Abuja.

When I was arrested by men of the Nigeria Police Zone 5, Benin City for trumped-up allegations of murder and seizure of the symbols of Ikenga-Oha Deity of Ibusa in the course of dispute over Ikwelle of Ibusa chieftaincy title, I made distress calls to Okwadike, Faseun and Kokori; and before Faseun and Kokori could fathom the appropriate steps to take to get me released, Okwadike marched straight to the Inspector General of Police at Abuja in a style that only defines a lead Hollywood actor and threatened the Inspector General of Police that if anything should happen to me, he would lose his office. That action dramatically changed the tone of the music to my favour, leading to the unceremonious transfer of the Acting Assistant Inspector General of Police to Abuja.

Apart from the fact that Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu and Dr. Frederick Faseun were members of NADECO to which Admiral Kanu was National Chairman until his death, the three men worked very closely both singularly and jointly with me on strategic matters of Igbo interests and Igbo-Yoruba interests. The three men played significant roles in my eventual escape to my present exile. I took refuge temporarily in Dr. Faseun’s Century Hotel before DSS reinforcement forced him to take me out through the Century Hotel back door; from where I escaped to Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu’s residence in Victoria Island; where he kept me for three days and gave me some money to escape to Ghana. While in hiding in my town, my uncles, Engineer Dennis Monyei, Engineer Okouwai Nwanze, and my cousin Mr. Nnamdi Nwanze travelled to Igbo-Ukwu on two occasions to meet Okwadike on the possible way to take me out the country.

As first Director of Centre for Igbo Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Okwadike played unequalled role in bringing the Centre into limelight through his contributory role as the Chairman of the Centre’s first Public Lecture delivered by the enigmatic Man of God and erstwhile President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Papa Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. Even while already in exile and the Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria under the directorship of the flamboyant Prof Emeka Nwabueze needed a Guest Speaker and Chairman for the Institute’s International Conference; it was not difficult for me talking both Okwadike and Prof Madubuihe into respectively playing both roles with sumptuous carriage of Igbo dignity.

In fact, my later decision to return to my job at University of Nigeria, Nsukka after nine years of activism in Lagos State was consequent upon Okwadike’s unrelenting pressure, telling me to grant him the permission to go and speak to the Vice Chancellor. To him I would be more useful to the Igbo nation with my base at the University.

Although I had developed cold-footedness about going back to the University system, Okwadike’s constant reminder crystalized when one of the finest Igbo men of unsung Spartan valor and uncommon Igbo patriotism woven in aggregate embellishment of Pauline Christian zeal and spiritualized Marxist revolutionary principles, Reverend Canon Engr. Prof Nnadozie N. Osadebe from Ogbunike; another god-father par excellence, now resting with the Lord, called my attention to the need for my come back to University of Nigeria. Harping on the emergence of the dynamic and humane Vice Chancellor and later Minister of Power, Venerable Prof Chinedu Nebo, to him, it did not matter if I resign my appointment the next day, all he needed was for my name to be mentioned once again among the academic staff of University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Prof N. N. Osadebe with his exceptionally humble and obedient Awka-born wife, Prof (Mrs.) Patience Ogoamaka Osadebe of Faculty of Pharmacy, stood out as the face of my second missionary academic journey in University of Nigeria, Nsukka, even though we later disagreed over my support for Prof Nebo’s successor, Prof Bartholomew Okolo. Most strikingly, they presented to me what I refer to as an uncommon enigma of what marriage should be but has not been in the context of Igbo customs and tradition. I saw a professional pharmacist and Professor having no personal bank account of hers but instead had her salaries paid directly into her husband’s account; this time with her husband pleading with her to open her own bank account in case of the inevitable, as it later turned out. Her sublime obedient carriage clearly demystified what most Anambra people speak of Awka women.

In fact, as Prof Osadebe later informed me, my case was first drawn to the attention of Prof Neb when he was planning to resuscitate the University Petroleum Services, to which I once served as a member of its Committee, and wanted very sincere staff to lead its resuscitation. That was when Prof Osadebe informed him of my case and he immediately requested to see me. When I came, after preliminary interactions, Prof Nebo told me to put up a fresh application for appointment and parted me with the sum of five thousand naira. Thereafter there were flurry of petitions against me to Prof Nebo from within the campus and my hometown all opposing my planned come back. At the end of the whole melodrama, I was finally re-employed at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka through the Grace of Prof Chinedu Nebo.

For Dr. Faseun, the last time we met during my refuge in his Century Hotel, he informed that he was no longer able to climb up to his office upstairs because of the sickness that nearly killed him some two weeks ago. I never knew I would not meet him again. For Okwadike we continued to speak in limited and coded forms because of the sensitivity of my situation, until later this year when we lost contact temporarily; after which he later informed me he was in United States receiving treatment for his eye ailment. Even after his return from the United States he similarly informed me. Hearing that the same Okwadike is dead just like that is a matter beyond my comprehension at this point when we needed him most.

Dike bu n’Odogwu mere ife dike!

Mana Okwadike bu n’Odogwu bu dike!

Ndigbo na-asi, akpo dike oza!

A kporom Okwadike o zam!

Mana mgbe a kporo dike ugboro ato, o zaro zi, a mara na agwo di n’akirika!

OKWADIKE! OKWADIKE! OKWADIKE!

JEA NKE OMA!

 

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