IT was about 10.45 am on Tuesday when the inter-city cab from Ughelli main town pulled over at Uwheru junction along the dualised East- West road, and this reporter alighted. As if he was stationed there to pick him up and ferry him to his destination in the sleepy agrarian community, a motorcycle operator approached.
The motorcycle operator who later identified himself as Pastor Samuel asked: “Where are you going to?”, with his hand already on the ignition key. Rather than answer, however, there was more that the reporter needed to know.
He had come to the community to locate the extended family of Ese Oruru who was abducted in August, last year at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State by one Yunusa a.k.a Yellow. The 13-year old girl was smuggled out of the town to far away Kano State where Inusa converted her to Islam, forcefully married and got her pregnant.
The news had been everywhere even in the remote communities like Uwheru in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State where Ese hails from. Pastor Samuel, like every other commercial motorcycle operator was quite familiar with the tale even though he did not know the Orurus.
“I don’t know their family house,” he told the reporter. But he volunteered to ferry the stranger to the palace of the traditional ruler of the town to make enquiries about the Orurus.
“Our king can read. Maybe he can help locate the family house,” he said. In the next five minutes, the motorcycle stopped at the palace of the Odion-Ode of Uwheru Kingdom, HRM Agbaovwe Afugeyaoyise II.
As we rode on the motorcycle, it was observed that almost every door was locked, an indication that most of people had gone to their farms. But the monarch was on his seat at the time and he gave some useful hints about the Orurus.
“Oruru is not a member of my family but he is from this kingdom. Their house is in Egbo quarter. I will tell one of my children to take you to Egbo quarter to locate the house,” the monarch offered.
However, Pastor Samuel who initially hinted the monarch about the reporter’s mission quickly took up the responsibility.
Uwheru Kingdom has five quarters of Eruvwie, Ehere, Urede, Egbo and Oro-Ohoro. Eruvwie is the senior quarter where the palace is located. It is also the only ruling house that produces the king in the community.
Before leaving the palace, the reporter presented a copy of the day’s edition of Daily Sun newspaper to the monarch for his reading delight.
In another 15 minutes, Pastor Samuel arrived Egbo quarter. He made enquiry about the Orurus and was directed to the family house owned by Ese’s paternal grand parents. It was a bungalow with two apartments.
One of the apartments was locked while the other one was opened. As we knocked and entered the sitting room, Ese’s grandmother emerged from the inner room. She sauntered into the chair before Pastor Samuel briefed her of our mission in Urhobo dialect.
There was going to be a barrier in conducting an interview with the matriarch of the Oruru family but Pastor Samuel was on hand to do the translation. He was the middleman who ensured that ‘Mama’ answered questions.
Madam Eunice Oruru, Ese’s grandmother is the first wife of Pa. Oruru who had since passed on. She had several children for her husband but only five, including three males and two females are surviving till date. Ese’s father, Charles is the eldest on both maternal and paternal sides.
Asked how she felt when she heard the news of Ese’s abduction, Madam Oruru said she wept uncontrollably, because according to her, Ese was very dear to her as the last child of the parents whom she had the privilege of nurturing when she was born, known as Omiovwor in Urhobo dialect.
“When I heard of her abduction, I fell down and wept, I thought that she would never return because whenever they kidnap a minor, they normally use them for rituals. So, I was sad, worried and frustrated. I wept uncontrollably.
“I had no money to support the rescue effort that was put together but I never stopped praying for her safety. I cried and prayed to God to protect her because I have never taken another man’s child, so nobody should take my own. I also travelled to Yenagoa,” she said.
According to her, Ese’s father moved to Yenagoa several years ago in search of greener pastures, adding that they used to visit home for holidays.
“He moved from the village to Lagos, then to Warri and later to Yenagoa in search of job because there is no work here in the village. His first child was born in Lagos, and I was there to play my role as the grand mother.
“I was always there to take care of the children whenever they were born. Ese is the last child and she was born in Yenagoa. I also went to Yenagoa to take care of her. That was why I was devastated by the news of her abduction,” she added.
But Madam Oruru’s joy knew no bound when the news of Ese’s rescue filtered into town. She danced and sang praises.
“When I prayed, I believed God would answer my prayers and that He would not disappoint me. Now, I know that she is in Yenagoa with her parents because they have a building there. The father has been staying there for a long time. He was working with a company before he went into business,” she said.
Madam Oruru however, has a soft spot for Yunusa, Ese’s alleged abductor. She has forgiven him of the offence but wants him to take good care of Ese until she delivers her baby successfully.
“My opinion is that the man (Yunusa) should take care of Ese because she is a minor. He should take care of her until she delivers the baby successfully. After the birth, he may go his own separate way.
“But if he is till interested in marrying Ese, he should do the right thing and marry her properly. If he proposes to Ese and she accepts, I will accept. But that is my own opinion, Ese’s parents have the final say, I can only advice.
“If Ese delivers successfully, the man should be released. If not, there should be no peace for him because he violated our child. For now, there is no peace for Yunusa until Ese delivers the baby successfully.
“Ese had not met any man before she was violated by Yunusa who forcefully took her away and got her pregnant. He has put her in this condition. So he should be ready to bear the consequences of his action.