Magnus Eze, Enugu
Ebonyi State High Court sitting in Afikpo has ruled that the century-old cultural practice in which the Ohaisu and Ugwuegu communities rotate the position of chief spokesperson or Okabue of the Essa traditional elders’ council, Afikpo, be maintained.
In delivering judgment in a suit HAF/30/2016 by Ohaisu, Ugwuegu and Nkpoghoro communities against Itim and Ozizza communities, all in Afikpo North Local Government Area of the state, Justice Ogbu noted that the component village groups/communities have their own varied cultural and traditional rights quite exclusive to them.
He said the court could not therefore strip any of the communities of such rights, which the tradition of the land had vested on them exclusively. The judgment also favoured the plaintiffs’ claim that the Eke-Ukwu market as well as the Ulo-Ubi Essa, Afikpo were originally and traditionally founded and established by the two communities of Ohaisu and Ugwuegu in Afikpo.
The court issued an injunction restraining the defendants in the suit (Itim and Ozizza communities) or any other persons not from Ohaisu or Ugwuegu from laying claims to the office of Okabue or the chief spokesperson of the Ehugbo Traditional Council of Elders in any manner whatsoever.
In dismissing the counter claims of the defendants, Justice Ogbu noted from evidence before the court that all the communities that make up the traditional elders’ council were fully informed and accepted the exclusive rights and privileges reserved for Ohaisu and Ugwuegu communities in the traditional practices obtainable in the elders’ council and that even when Itim was offered a chance to produce an Okabue (as a privilege and not as a right) the community failed woefully to comply appropriately.
A total sum of N45,000 each was awarded as costs against Itim and Ozizza communities in response to the request made by counsel to the plaintiffs in the suit, Chief Mudi Erhenede.