Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s father, Obi Chukwuka Okonjo, has won a chieftaincy suit in Ogwashi-Uku Aniocha South local government area of Delta State.
There was a controversy as to whose chieftaincy position is valid in Ogwashi-Uku and the Obi that can perform the installation.
The claimants, Emmanuel Nwaolise and 10 others, had in a joint statement of claim sort a declaration, among others, from the court that their purported removal by Obi Okonjo and four others was illegal, null and void, having been installed by the then prescribed authority of Ogwashi-Uku community leader, Felix Izediunor, while Obi Okonjo and others sought a declaration of the court that the said claimants cannot hold themselves out as chiefs on the ground that the said Felix Izediunor who installed them was not validly installed and recognised as the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.
The High Court ruled that the self-acclaimed Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, Felix Izediunor, was not validly installed as the Obi of the community and, therefore, could not have derived the power in accordance with Ogwashi-Uku native law and custom to perform the duties ascribed to the holder of the position to wit: installation of a chief in the community.
The judgment was a fallout of a suit instituted against the reigning Obi of the community, Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, by some chiefs and elders of Azungwu Quarters in Ogwashi-Uku over what they termed their unlawful removal from their positions by Obi Okonjo.
To prove their case, the claimants relied on former rulings marked exhibit ‘E 1’ and ‘G’ to contend that the said Felix Izediunor exercised the functions of the said Obi or was entitled to do so, while the defendants had relied on two factors bordering on the none completion of the installation of the said Felix Izediunor as the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, having not been chalked by the Onihe of Ogwashi-Uku or the oldest Diokpa from the Onihe family whose duty it is to install an obi for the community.
The defendants also tendered a former court judgment which restored the Obiship throne of Ogwashi-Uku to Umu-Obahai lineage which subsequently gave birth to the emergence of Obi Chukwuka Okonjo as the current Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.
Delivering judgment, Justice Theresa Diai observed that since the said Felix Izediunor was not presented to the Onihe family for installation as adduced in the evidence of the defendants, he could not be said to have emerged the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, especially wherein the claimants on their part failed to prove to the contrary that the said Felix Izediunor was validly installed by the Onihe family of Ogwashi-Uku under its native law and custom.
In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the court holds that the defendants have established their case that since Felix Izediunor, who conferred the respective titles on the 2nd, 4th and 5th claimants, was not presented and installed by the Onihe or Diokpa of the family entitled to produce same, he cannot be regarded as an Obi and, therefore, was not competent to confer the said titles on the 2nd, 4th and 5th claimants, unlike the 3rd claimants who was duly installed by a recognised Obi Michael Izediunor.