Right from prehistoric times the Igbo people are known for their sound cultural base and rich traditional foundation. This is reflected in the writings of the iconic Chinua Achaebe of global repute. Igbo is a land of respect and good moral behaviour. But recent events in Igboland leaves one asking the question of where comes this current free for all descent to an uncouth culture.
The other day it was Igbos who beat up one of their respected leaders, former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu in far away Germany at an event which was originally put together to celebrate Igbo culture in the Diaspora. The latest assault on our collective psyche is the attack launched by one Dr. Nwankwo Obidigbo against a leading Igbo light, Prince Athur Eze over the lingering tussle between Abba and Ukpo communities in Anambra state.
I read with utter consternation and disappointment, the online article entitled ‘Abba Town: Prince Arthur Eze Nigerian Police Limited.’ Ordinarily one would not have been bothered to respond to the unfounded and misheavous claims in the said article because Dr. Nwankwo Obidigbo himself claimed to have written from Abba Community in Anambra State and therefore it is expected that he must toe the line of his kinsmen, but it is important for us to be careful in how we treat such issues that affect the collective good of our people.
If we destroy all our icons to whom shall we run to for help when the days of tragedy come on us? So the record must be kept straight to avoid manipulation of history and for posterity sake.
In his diatribe, Obidigbo alleged that the Nigerian Police Force has become a personalised force of Prince Arthur Eze. He alleged that the Inspector General of Police had come under the manipulation of the Ukpo Prince. He claimed that the people of Abba, Ukpo and Ukwulu have a subsisting land dispute which is before a competent court. He maintained that the people of Ukpo and Ukwulu, led by Prince Arthur Eze, were collaborating with the Nigerian Police to intimidate, harass and unlawfully arrest and detain the people of Abba, irrespective of the interlocutory injunction obtained against the actions of the Nigerian Police.
I have read the various judgements and seen various commentaries about this issue and for me, I feel it is important to note that the land dispute in question had been decided by the Supreme Court and all the current moves of Abba and her people may not stand the law on its head, for a ruling by the Supreme Court is law and should be obeyed. This is the paramount point in this matter. That is why I was shocked that the author cannot understand the workings of the law.
Obidigbo spoke of the Supreme Court saying that the status quo be maintained. If that is his interpretation, it means that the Ukpo people who are the original owners of the land should continue to own the land pending whatever directive that would come from any court of his imagination. It must also be emphasised that if Prince Arthur Eze deserves anything from the Igbo it is praise and not villification. This is a man who has accomplished unprecedented height in his philanthropic gestures to Igbo sons and daughters accros board.
So all that is due him is praises, accolades and respect. No right thinking Igbo person or Nigerian in general should seek to denigrate his lofty heights and contributions to nation building and help for the poor and downtrodden. He is indeed a worthy Igbo son who must be appreciated.
Prince Eze has been in the forefront of helping the needy regardless of where they come from, is it now that his people of Ukpo are involved that he will be projected in negative light? It is imperative to point out that Obidigbo’s aim is to incite the public against the Nigeria Police and Prince Arthur Eze.
So making spurious allegations and claiming that the police has been intimidating the people of Abba community is indeed an insult on the institution and we hasten to call on the Nigerian police to ensure that Obidigbo should arrested, interrogated and prosecuted for criminal incitement. The police have a right to arrest anyone at anytime who is in breach of the peace. They have a right to cordon off any place where there is threat to law and order. That’s is the principal constitutional duty of the police and no court order aimed at undermining that pivotal role will be entertained to the detriment of life and property of any people, including the area now in question which has the judgement of the Supreme Court. Truth is a giant, it cannot be fallen by the lies of little men and minds.
It is the duty of the police to protect life and property and if there is any threat to law and order, it is the duty of the police to take proactive actions to quell such. Potential insecurity anywhere in the country should never be condoned by any responsible police force. And in terms of the court order being referred to by Obidigbo it is trite to say that the police have made an appearance in the court with a legal team headed by a senior advocate of Nigeria, an indication that the force respects the rule of law and the dictates of social justice. The engagement of this SAN by the IG in the matter shows his respect for the institutions of law.
Is Prince Athur Eze, the IGP or is he the chairman of Police Service Commission that Mr Obidigbo has painted a picture that they are under his appronspring ? Prince Eze is just a law abiding citizen doing his private businesses and going beyond to help the downtrodden out of his magnanimity and therefore should not be a subject of aspersion.
Obidigbo should prepare to produce evidence showing how Prince Eze is bribbing the police. He should also be ready to provide proof of how money was given as he alluded in his irresponsible article. People should be careful about what they write because of the tense security situation in the country and the possible backlashes.For Obidigbo, in his writing, to cast aspersion on the great Igbo son, Prince Eze, is, to say the least, preposterous, unconscionable and unreasonable. Ndigbo should not take this ungodly culture lightly. It should be see as a fight against our leaders, an affront and an insult to the entire Igbo race.
It was a similar unwarranted attack against Prince Athur Eze by Chimamanda Adichie that attracted the wrath of the apex social cultural Igbo organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and they called her to order as well as instructed her to apologise to the respected Igbo Prince. Good enough, Ohanaeze Ndigbo saw it for what it was- an attemp to denigrate the uncommon stature of an outstanding Igbo icon.
In other ethnic groups, such as Hausas and Yorubas, their icons are hailed and honoured as a sign of their good cultural standing. They won’t allow anyone to rise up and write things just to tarnish the image of their champions. The Igbo should learn how to give due respect to their icons, especially one such as Prince Eze who has used his personal wealth to better the lot of the common man mostly Amongst Ndigbo.
Prince Arthur Eze is an uncommon persona and an enigma of the Igbo race. One therefore cannot stand by and watch someone who has no requisite social cultural capital and acumen attempt to rubbish all that the Prince has worked for over the years with unblemished global acclaim.
For an Igbo to start impugning the character of a highly respected Igbo Son is indeed an evil sign. What contributions has Obidigbo made to the developments of his town Abba that has now given him the effrontery to falsely accuse a champion of Igbo philanthropy, Prince Arthur Eze? Obidigbo should tell us what he has contributed to the development of Igbo land. Even Abba community where he hails from is one of the places that has enjoyed countless number of scholarships from Prince Athur Eze.
Prince Eze should be respected by all and sundry, if not for anything for his philanthropic disposition in the entire South East, in assisting Igbo men and Nigerians in general to start up businesses and escape the scathing heat of poverty and deprivation. This is a man who has lifted so many Igbo youths from misery and made them useful to the society. He has also been using his huge resources to encourage governments at all levels to better the lot of the common man in the society. Many Igbo people, including those of Abba and Ukpo communities have the historical records of the land dispute which Obidigbo has now dabbled into without corresponding knowledge. He failed to take cognisance of the reality that the supreme court had ruled on this issue and the judgement has put to rest the controversy.
So for the Abba community where Obidigbo hails from to now go to a lower court to file a fresh case to hear the matter again is to say the least, a case of judicial rascality and abuse of judicial processes. Obidigbo has exposed himself as being ignorant and not abreast of the jurisprudence of the Nigerian legal system, because every pronouncement by the supreme court is not only binding on the parties but is an authority which can be cited in other courts and cases. It is a rule that a matter that has been decided by the Supreme Court should not be heard by any other court in the country. So Obidigbo and his kinsmen should not have in the first place induced their lawyers to have approached a court to re open the matter. It was indeed a misadventure which has attracted the wrath of the NBA against their lawyers.
Obidigbo should go and read the judgement of the supreme court on the Abba and Ukpo communities land dispute so that he can know that his Abba community has no right to go and resurrect a matter that has already been decided by the Supreme Court. He should also know that the appeal court threw out Abba community’s case since they had no record of the case at the high court.
Whatever the arguments are, It must not be lost on Obidigbo that the Supreme Court has settled this matter and any matter so decided cannot be reopened in any other court, whether it be high, federal or appeal court because supreme Court judgement stand as an authority .Just last week, the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, dismissed an application brought by the PDP and Ayika on the grounds that the Supreme Court had already ruled on the matter. The PDP and Ayika were seeking to truncate the victory of Hon Dozie Nwankwo of the Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The Court in very strong words chided the effrontery of the applicant’s counsel in approaching the Court of Appeal with the application as it has been decided upon by the Supreme Court. It took the intervention of other senior counsels in court to plead on behalf of the PDP counsel from being recommended for disciplinary action. Consequently, the Court dismissed the application with punitive cost against PDP and Ayika. Obidigbo should go and educate him with that ruling.