Soldiers kill prince of rival house to Okonjo Iweala's dad



A yet to be identified prince of Ogwashi-Uku and member of the Izedunor royal family has been shot dead.

Two others sustained serious injuries after soldiers fired at their procession in Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, southern Nigeria.

The bloody incident took place during the annual Iwaaji (roasting of new yam) festival in kingdom of Ogwashi-Uku, where Professor Chukwuka Okonjo is the monarch.

It was gathered that the uprising might not be unconnected with the crisis surrounding the kingship over who is the occupant of the throne between the Izedunor lineage and the Okonjo lineage.

The Delta state government had sometimes ago presented the staff of office to Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, father of Nigeria’s Finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom following his victory at the lower courts.

But the victory is being challenged by the Izedunor lineage at a higher court, with the police advising both parties to maintain the status quo until judgement was delivered.

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Two truck-load of soldiers disrupted the festival by the Izedununor ruling house, as they allegedly shot sporadically at the venue of the festival, resulting in the instant death of the prince.

A community source said “on the day of the festival, the Ekei Market is not supposed to hold. So the Izedunor lineage had gone to tell the market women to close shop for some hours but when the Okonjos heard about it, they brought in the soldiers to make sure the festival did not hold.”

A source loyal to the Okonjo’s family who did not want his name in print, however countered claims by the Izedunors. He said trouble started when the Izsedunors mobilised to prevent Obi Okonjo from entering the palace to perform the New Yam festival rites.

“What happened is that tradition demands that the Obi (King) would enter the palace to perform certain rituals associated with the festival and that the market for that day should temporary relocate to where the palace is located for the purpose.

“However, those who are opposed to the Obi’s rulership mobilised some youths to prevent him from entering the palace. The soldiers were trying to quell the tension but they shot and some persons were hit by bullet,” said the source.

The incident has continued to generate condemnation from some quarters, with one of the community leaders simply identified as Akaaze accusing the soldiers of intimidation and killing defenceless residents of the ancient kingdom.

“How can soldiers open fire on innocent people? They are ordinary
citizens. And we are all living witnesses to what happened in Abuja
recently: security operatives killing defenceless people and tagging them terrorists. This is intimidation of the highest order. Ogwashi-Uku is not at war. Both factions should be allowed to perform their traditional rites until the Supreme Court delivers its judgement,” Akaaze said.