Nzuko Aro home branch has intervened in a legal battle between an Arochukwu based patent medicine dealer, Mazi Luke Kanu, operator of the popular St. Luke’s Shop and the trio of HRH Eze Kanu Nwa Kanu, Eze Ibom Isii, HRH Eze Okorafor Uror, Eze Ezeagwu and Mazi Oji Kanu Oji, Eze Aro’s representative).
Mazi Luke Ndubueze Kanu of Amankwu village, Arochukwu filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit against HRH Eze Okorafor Uro (Eze Ezeagwu Kindred), HRH Eze Dr. Kanu Nwa Kanu (Eze Ibom Isii Kindred) and Mazi Oji Kanu Oji (Eze Aro’s Representative) who constitute the Eze Aro-in-Council, in Arochukwu High Court for “intending” to infringe on his human rights.
He seeks to restrain the traditional rulers from carrying out their “intended ostracism, excommunication and/or using Nkwa Ekpe (of the Ekpe Society) …” against him thereby enforcing his human rights of Freedom from discrimination as guaranteed under Section 39(1), 42 and 46 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 12 of African Charter on Human and People’s Right.
Also joined in the suit is Mazi George Ohiaerinwa Ogbonnaya Okoro, Luke Kanu’s kinsman and immediate-past Education Secretary, Local Government Education Authority, Arochukwu.
Eze Okorafor Uro, Eze Kanu Nwa Kanu, Mazi Orji Kanu Orji (Eze Aro’s Representative) and Mazi George Ohiaerinwa Ogbonnaya Okoro are 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Respondents, respectively.
In Suit No HAR/1M/2019 filed in the High Court of Arochukwu Judicial Division on his behalf by Kings Nwosu Esq., Aba-based legal practitioner and Legal Adviser General of Nzuko Arochukwu, Mazi Luke Kanu sought among other reliefs, “An order restraining the 1st-4th Respondents from using the instrumentality of the Ekpe Society or its Agents to invite, arrest, detain and/or harass him “on the issue of criminal act committed by” Mazi George Ohiaerinwa Ogbonnaya Okoro “and as such has nothing to do with any form of Native Law and Custom.”
Mazi Luke Kanu also sought that the respondents should pay him the sum of N10, 000,000 (Ten Million Naira) as damages for infringing on his right “by illegally trying to ostracise him from the community.”
In his three-page Affidavit in support of his claim, Mazi Kanu deposed, among other things, that on or about 27-04-2019 he wrote a letter captioned “Suspicious sacrifice conducted by Mazi George Ohiaerinwa Ogbonnaya Okoro” to the Ogbo-Ekpe Arondizuogu (i.e. Amankwu villagers in diaspora), explaining that “the making” of the letter “was a result of series of meetings involving the calamity Mazi George Ohiaerinwa Ogbonnaya Okoro was involved in, “leading to the minutes of Ikom Na Inyom Amankwu Village held on 3rd, 6th, and 7th April 2019 on the alleged suspicious sacrifice conducted by Mazi George Okoro on the 29th March, 2019 around Mazi I J Ezuma and Ogo Amankwu.”
“That following the making of his letter to Amankwu villagers in diaspora, “the secretary of the 1st – 3rd respondent in their local village court” invited me “to appear before them on 4-7-2019 to answer for a matter that did not concern any of the 1st to 3rd respondents or the village at all.”
“That on 4-7-2019, I appeared before the 1st to 3rd respondents in their local village court and sought to know the reason for his invitation.”
“That the 1st and 2nd respondent shouted down on me and refused me to speak, but urged me to listen to the sanctions they intend to levy against me’’
“That I pleaded for an extension of time to prepare for the case and was granted only the 9th of July to re-appear’’
“That as a result of a similar event in past when there was a small misunderstanding between me and the 4th respondent where the other co-respondent jointly supported the 4th respondent against me and closed down my shop from doing business. The respondent used the opportunity to stop people from associating with or coming to buy goods from me whose shop is on a conspicuous part of Arochukwu’’
“That I and my entire family suffered serious discrimination or ostracization as everybody in Arochukwu was severely warned by the respondent from buying anything or associating with us’’
“That following from the extension granted as pleaded, the 4th Respondent who is the Architect of this serious breach of discrimination against me and who acts as a conductor that brings cases to the local Village court for the other Respondents started boasting that I will be dealt as before and there is nothing anybody can do about it.”
“The 1st to 4th respondents are already making moves again to intimidate, harass and threaten me through possibly the instrumentality of the Ekpe Society agents on a matter that is purely criminal in nature.”
“That I equally gathered that the 1st to 4th respondents have already stated (sic) a process of excommunication, banishing and or ostracizing me from my shop in my native town, Arochukwu.”
“That I am reliably informed that the Respondents have already informed the women at the women square that they should not have anything to do with me again.”
“This was done with total disregard to my right to personal dignity and freedom of association and even fair hearing.”
Mazi Luke concluded: “I therefore seeks (sic) for compensation and protection by this Honourable Court as contained in my prayers.”
Aro News gathered that the matter is not unconnected with a controversial sacrifice allegedly performed by Mazi Ohiaerinwa Ogbonnaya Okoro in his village, Amankwu, for which the people of Amankwu met, found him culpable of “devilish act” and consequently imposed a penalty of “traditional Iforjuala.”
In a letter dated 27th of April,/2019 and captioned: “Suspicious Sacrifice Conducted by Mazi George Ohiaeri Okoro” addressed to Ogbo Ekpe Arondizuogu through Mazi West Umeh, the Ogbo Ekpe Amankwu village stated: “We write to inform Ogbo Ekpe Arondizuogu of the ugly development at Amankwu village in which the Acting Eze Ekpe Amankwu was caught at about 2.30 am on the 29th March, 2019 conducting suspicious sacrifice at the compound of Late I. J. Ezumah near Ogo Amankwu square.”
“He denied initially but on threat by Ikom Na Inyom Amankwu, of consulting/bringing an Oracle to unravel (sic) the mystery of the person(s) involved, he confessed of carrying out the devilish act.”
Consequently, the letter signed by Luke N. Kanu, on behalf of Ogbo Ekpe Amankwu village continued that “The village had gone ahead to impose penalty (traditional Iforjulal) on Mazi George, which he has accepted he will perform initially on or before the Easter period but later moved to end of June, 2019.”
It was further gathered that when it was due for Mazi Okoro to perform the Iforjuala rite, he reneged, compelling his community to decide to excommunicate and ostracize him from Amankwu economic and social activities.
Apparently irked by this development, Mazi George Okoro rushed to the traditional Arochukwu court (Eze Aro-in-Council) in Oror, Arochukwu, the administrative seat of Arochukwu Kingdom for protection. He sued four persons of Amankwu village, namely, Mazi Uzobueze Harrison Eke, Mrs Ifeoma Uzobueze H. Eke, Mazi Luke N.Kanu and Mazi Abel Okpara for assassinating his character using the Iforjuala decision as a weapon.
On why he reneged on the acceptance to perform the Iforju ala, Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro said that Iforju ala connotes appeasing the gods for offence committed against them (gods), insisting that he never committed any offence against the land.
He said the sacrifice he performed was purely a personal one for a cause – safety of his life and the lives of his family members.
“Should I perform the Iforju ala rite, it then means I commented sacrilege which is not the case,” he stated.
As at the time of filing this report, hearing on the matter had not commenced, but apparently irked by the embarrassment the suit caused Arochukwu Kingdom, Mazi Jeremiah Onwumere, President, Nzuko Arochukwu (Home Branch) in a statesmanlike manner initiated a damage-control meeting of Aro stakeholders at Arochukwu.
Onwumere informed Aro News that the meeting he initiated was to find ways and manner to ‘repair’ the damage done to the image of Arochukwu Kingdom by Luke Kanu’s action.
The scheduled meeting which held at the Arochukwu Cultural/Historic Civic Centre, on Wednesday, 1st August, 2019 was attended by Nzuko Aro (Home branch) executive committee as well as Presidents and Secretaries of the 19 village unions of Arochukwu. It brainstormed on how to persuade Mazi Luke Kanu to withdraw his suit against Arochukwu Throne from Court for a roundtable discussion for a lasting solution.
Mazi Luke Kanu who was invited to the meeting narrated events that led to his decision to take legal action against the Eze’s, recalling how the trio of Mazi Oji Kanu Oji, Kanu nwa Kanu and Okorafor Uro dealt with him in the past, declaring that he would be “a stupid person” should he allow the Ezes to have their way again this time around.
To reciprocate Mazi Onwumere’s gesture in inviting him to the meeting, Mazi Luke Kanu declared that he had acceded to the meeting’s demand, provided the Ezes agreed to play along.
The meeting expressed gratitude to Mazi Kanu for his positive response and assured that the Ezes would be approached in the most respectable manner to reciprocate his gesture by accepting to support moves to withdraw the matter from Court.