Okonjo-Iweala’s Dad Fight Over Throne


The  battle between Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, father of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, and a royal family over the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku throne, has resulted in the death of a 15-year-old Ogwashi-Uku prince identified as Pentty Sunday Chukwu.

He and two others were shot by soldiers allegedly led by a captain of the Nigerian Army. The shooting incident occurred at Ogwashi-Uku during the celebration of the community’s new yam festival last weekend.

Two other victims who were also shot by the soldiers were taken to a hospital for treatment.

The Public Relations Officer of the Delta State Police Command, ASP Lucky Uyabeme, confirmed this to journalists in Asaba, capital of Delta State.

According to the police spokesman, the shooting “was done by the army, led by a Captain.”

He, however, did not disclose the name of the Army Captain.

Uyabeme who declined further details, said the army were handling the issue, adding that when “they are through, they will hand over to the police for further investigation.”

The corpse of Pentty Sunday Chukwu is yet to be recovered by relatives of the deceased.

Also missing from the community are two other princes, namely, Kingsley Udeh, 22, and Bollus Izedunor, 23, who sustained bullet wounds.

The Umudei Royal Family of Ogwashi-Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, while demanding to know the whereabouts of their sons, alleged that the victims were shot by soldiers who also took them away to an unknown destination.

According to the family’s secretary, Anthony Nti, the uniformed men allegedly stormed the palace where the victims were seated and opened fire on them unprovoked, killing one person in the process and injuring two others who had scampered for safety.

“On September 27, in fact, it was a blue Friday because three young boys were seated in their father’s house (palace), Ogbe-Nti-Obi, when suddenly two Hilux pick-up vans with these numbers written on the vehicles: 00135 and 00177, loaded with armed men dressed in army uniform drove into the palace.

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“As soon as they alighted, the children who were seated became apprehensive and had to run away but the uniformed men pursued them and opened fire on them, killing one and injuring two.

“And they took them along and till now we don’t know their whereabouts. They killed Prince Pentty Sunday Chukwu. Princes Kingsley Udeh, 22, and Bollus Izedunor, 23, were injured,” Nti said.

He urged the relevant authorities to probe the circumstances that led to the invasion of the palace by uniformed men and the shooting that resulted in the casualties.

“It is hoped that both the federal and state governments would probe  this matter as a soul is already lost. We are demanding for justice because this victim was murdered in his father’s house, not on the streets,” he added.

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 where security operatives killed defenceless people and tagged 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.

Investigation however revealed that last Friday’s crisis was not unconnected with the celebration of the New Yam (Iwaaji) festival by the respective ruling houses laying claims to the throne of Obi of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom.

There has been a protracted kingship tussle over who occupies the throne between the Umudei ruling house represented by Izedunor lineage and the Umuobaha ruling house represented by the Okonjo lineage.

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

However, Okonjo’s victory at the lower courts is being challenged by the Izedunor lineage at the Supreme Court and as such the police advised both parties to maintain the status quo until judgement was delivered.

—Jethro Ibileke/Benin

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