History of Uvwie - Statement of Claim [SUIT No. EHC/78/2008]

 






IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE: DELTA STATE OF NIGERIA
IN THE EFFURUN JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT EFFURUN
SUIT No. EHC/78/2008

BETWEEN
1)         PRINCE RANDOLPH HOREBABOR ERUMA-GBORIE           }
2)         PRINCE ISAAC U. ERUMA-GBORIE                              }
3)         PRINCE SUNNY IMOWE LOROMEKE                           }
4)         PRINCE RICHARD O. KEMI                                             }          PLAINTIFFS
5)         PRINCE LOUIS OCHUKE ERUMA-GBORIE                 }         
6)         PRINCE ISREAL ERU                                                         }         
7)         PRINCESS MAY ERU                                                         }
(For themselves and on behalf of members of Imowe Royal }
Family of Uvwie)                                                                    }

-AND-
1)         CHIEF EMMANUEL SIDESOH (ABE I)                           }
2)         CHIEF D.D. ATUYOTA EGERE                                        }
3)         CHIEF J.M. URHOBODORO                                              }
4)         CHIEF HOPE ERUTE                                                          }
(For themselves and on behalf of members of Eruowho Family)        }
5)         UDJARA AKWEVWURHIE                                                           }
(For himself and on behalf of members of  Abe Family)       }
6)         CHIEF AJAYI OKORONUWA                                           }
(For himself and on behalf of members of Imedo Family)     }
7)         CHIEF O. UGAVA (Acting Regent)                                                }          DEFENDANTS
8)         CHIEF UKUADE (Unuevworo of Ogbe)                             }
9)         HON. ROBERT EJIFOMA                                                   }
(Chairman Uvwie L.G.A. Caretaker Committee)                   }
10)       ATTORNEY GENERAL AND COMMISSIONER                        }
FOR JUSTICE, DELTA STATE                                          }
11)       COMMISSIONER FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND }
CHIEFTAINCY AFFAIRS, DELTA STATE.                     }

STATEMENT OF CLAIM

 

  1. The plaintiffs are members of Imowe Royal Family of Uvwie Kingdom in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State.
  1. The 1st defendeant is a member of the Abe Family of Uvwie

 

  1. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants are members of Eruowho family and are sued for themselves and on behalf of other members of Eruowho family of Uvwie
  1. The 5th defendant is a member of the Abe family and is sued for himself and on behalf of other members of Abe family in Uvwie Kingdom.

 

  1. The 6th defendant is a member of Imedo family and is sued for himself and on behalf of other members of the said Imedo family in Uvwie Kingdom.
  1. The 7th and 8th defendants are the purported acting regent of Uvwie and Unuevworo of Ogbe respectively.

 

  1. The 9th defendant is the Chairman, Caretaker Committee of Uvwie Local Government Council, Delta State.
  1. The 10th defendant is the Chief Legal Officer of Delta State Government.

 

  1. The 11th defendant is the person in charge of Chieftancy and Local Government Affairs (including Uvwie Local Government) in Delta State.
  1. The plaintiffs are the descendants of Imowe(deceased), one of the seven children of Uvwie(deceased).

 

  1. Uvwie is progenitor of the founders of the present Uvwie Kingdom in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State.
  1. The ancient chroniclers of Uvwie History, is that the people of Uvwie  migrated from Ile-Ife to Benin and then to Erowha.

 

  1. Quite specifically one Ofheneughe meaning Ofhene of Ife, a Prince of Ife who had mystical powers was detailed to Benin to ensure the physical wellbeing of the Oba. This was the practice that began from the reign of Oba Oranmiyan in about 1200AD, where every newly coronated Oba had his innermost support and trusted aides from Ife.
  1. Ofhene stayed in Benin and later traveled to Erowha at the request of the OKI-ALE the Ovie[king] of Erowha to the Oba of Benin.

 

  1. The request of Okiale was contingent on his failing health which had defiled the physicians in Erowha. Ofhene with his mystical powers was able to restore health and vitality to the Okiale who then gave his only child and daughter Princess Igbide to Ofhene  as wife and requested that he remained in Erowha.
  1. Ofhene was later appointed as deputy to the Okiale and made to seat in the highest council reserved for only Clan Heads of the kingdom, known as Orubu.

 

  1. With his endownments, Ofhene became popular as he made great contributions coming with his vast experience in kingdom matters from Ife and Benin.
  1. After the death of Okiale, without a male child to succeed him, the administration of the kingdom was therefore the responsibility of the various Orubus (Clan heads).

 

  1. With the influence of his wife Princess Igbide, Orubu Ofhene was installed as Ovie of Erowha. During his reign, the kingdom flourished and became very large with more immigrants from Benin, Igbo, Ife and Ijaw coming in to settle amongst this aborigines called Erowhas.
  1. Ofhene reigned and died leaving behind a number of children amongst whom were Uvwie also know as Efron, Tarakiri, Oproza and Tuomor.

 

  1. After the death of Ovie Ofhene, his eldest son Uvwie succeeded him as Ovie of Erowha, but he could not dominate the Eguare-Orubu[Council of Orubus]
  1. The struggle for dominance led to a civil war that affected the unity of the ever growing kingdom. This led to the division of the Erowha kingdom with each Orubu heading and governing his group.

 

  1. These units or groups later had their own names derived from the names or nicknames of their respective leaders.
  1. In the course of time, these groups migrated to distant lands in search of separate identitiy and peaceful settlements and they consequently scattered around the hinterland of the Delta Region.

 

  1. A group made up of Efron[Uvwie] and his brother Oproza moved to the present day Patani with Efron as Ovie.
  1. Uvwie married two Ijaw women namely Arogbo and Ogbe from Gbaran and Mehin respectively. Arogbo had three children namely Imowe, Owhre and Atama while Ogbe had four children namely Orhomor, Ugbeun, Ohran and Urhien.

 

  1. During the reign of Uvwie, Imowe his eldest son enlisted in the army of the Oba of Benin. His gallantry during the wars earned him the title of OKPONODOGUAJI. His administrative ability in terms of mobilizing men and materials for war also led to the appellation of OYOKOKONOKOKOMOR abbreviated as IYOKOKO.
  1. As a reward for his bravery, the Oba gave his daughter Princess Oguvhe as wife to Prince Imowe.

 

  1. In one of those expeditions, he undertook a tour of duty in company of some of his brothers along the seashores of Arogbo – a thriving Western Ijaw settlement. There to his amazement was a festival of water Deities. These deities he named IGUE meaning destiny.
  1. In the period under reference, your prominence in the society was determined by your access to mystical and divine powers and/or your valor. To a very large extent, the later is determined by the first. Prince Imowe fascination was therefore heightened by the prospect of increased mystical powers derivable from an interaction with these deities in addition to the one he already had by his pedigree[from Ofhene and Uvwie]

 

  1. His interaction with the deities is today the heart of the Edjuvwie Igue festival known as ‘Tsuredjo’ [domestication of a deity] in the celebrations of Edjuvwie in Uvwie kingdom.
  1. With these additional powers, Prince Imowe and his brothers held sway at Arogbo before the movement back to Erowha under the direction of the deity and oracle to return home to his father Uvwie and assist him regain the commanding heights at Erowha.

 

  1. This he promptly did through the waterways via Ofurukama on the Forcados River to Patani where Ovie Uvwie was reigning with his brother Oproza. He took his father back to Erowha leaving behind his uncle Oproza at Patani.
  1. At the passing of Ovie Uvwie, Prince Imowe became Ovie at Erowha. Under the direction of the Deity/Oracle which is the full essence of the Edjuvwie he again moved his kingdom to the hinterland [like all the other earlier Orubus] to a place called Effurunotor [Efron inland]

 

  1. Imowe therefore fully established the structures of priesthood/kingship(Ovie) for the Uvwie people. Imowe was then both the Priest and King of the Uvwie people.
  1. In the tradition of the time, each of the seven children of Uvwie were given titles to function and work with the eldest son Imowe to ensure harmonious living in their settlement. These titles in their order of function and seniority are Okpo for Imowe, Akarikoko, Erhe, Onoye, Ayoba, Onotu and Ugovbori, who together are called INIYEVORO meaning owners of the kingdom.. Appointment into the representative position of the families were confirmed by the Ovie in consultation with the relevant families.

 

  1. Owhre and Urhie the two last born of the two wives (of Arogbo and Ogbe gate) of Uvwie families became, the spokesmen( Otota) later changed to Unuevwores of  the  community. In addition to their spokesmanship, the title of Olotu (War Lord) was also conferred on them by lmowe.( the First son). The holder of the Olotu title was responsible for orgainsing the youths and various war officers in war time.
  1. The Imowe Ruling house is the only Royal family both at Effurun-otor and in Uvwie successively producing the Ovie whenever the stool is vacant.

 

  1. At the demise of Uvwie at Erowha, Ovie Imowe who acquired divine power with his interactions with Edjuwvie at Arogbo started running the affairs of his people.

 

  1. Imowe then established a very structured society with the essence of Edjuvwie at its heart called the OTOTOR’UVWIE. The community logo or emblem as seen in the UGIU clearly depicts this with the Ovie as the Lion.
  1. He ruled and died at a very ripe age and left behind five sons and two daughters: The sons are Prince Akporaro, Prince Uwangue, Prince Odjan, Prince Akwia, and Prince Ilolo.

 

  1. After the reign and demise of  Imowe, his eldest son Prince Akporaro succeeded him. Ovie Akporaro reign at Effurun – Otor.
  1. Owhre is the father of Ogun who begat Eruowho and Ogoni. During the reign of Akporaro, Ogun was Olotu and Unevworo (meaning war lord and Spokesman) serving under Akporaro.

 

  1.   During the reign of Akporaro, Eruowho migrated with a group of Uvwie people of Ogbe stock to what presently became the Okpe Kingdom. During this sojourn he was in Benin as part of the delegation of warriors sent to the Oba forces came back with the news of his initiation into the OHOVBOREN SOCIETY, an organisation of nobles in Benin.
  1. After the death of Orodje Uzezi of Okpe, Eruowho returned to Effurun-otor where Ovie Akparoro still reigns.

 

  1. When Ogun died, his son Eruowho succeeded him as Olotu and was installed Unuevworo. All these took place during the reign of Akporaro.
  1. Eruowho then sought the permission of Ovie Akporaro to establish a similar society in the kingdom to work with the Ovie in the already expanding kingdom. Just as it is in Benin, member ship is ractified by the Ovie ceremoniously who is the representative of the Oba in the Kingdom by the reverence and influence of the Benin Kingdom over this kingdom.

 

  1. Every joining member of the society who are nobles must therefore pay homage to the Ovie in the fees – 7 cola nuts, 7 coconut, 7 white chalk, 7 cakes of soap, 7 bunch of plantain, 1 tin of palm Oil, 7 gallons of palm wine, 1 she goat and [ money].
  1. The Ohovboren title is not heredictory, as it is earned by your achievements as a noble. Your membership is call SE – EDJERE. And the hallmark of your membership is that you are not only successful but seen as successful. In this sense you are not suppose to climb the palm tree as the sign of your success.

 

  1. By their resources and nobility, it was only a natural course of event for members of this society to become the mainstream administrators and influential grouping in the kingdom and their meetings became known as Eguare’ Ohovboren or Edion as the general name for nobles in Benin.
  1. This was the situation when Ovie Akporaro passed on but could not be succeeded by his eldest son who had migrated to Ewhu and refused to return to succeed his father. Akporaro’s brother, Uwangue then ascended the throne as Ovie of Uvwie

 

  1. Uwangue having been coronated and crowned by the Iniyevoros[kingmaker] reign briefly at Effurun – Otor and continued with the migration to today’s Uvwie. This came about as a fall out of a festival celebrated once in 25 years. The antecedence of this festival required for a full year of celebration. It was therefore required that before the festival year commences, all food supplies must be gathered to serve the season. In one of those expedition to gather food supplies, a group of Uvwie hunters, fishermen and farmers came to a location where supplies were bountiful. This is the Ekpan.
  1. That festival was the confirmation of the elimination of hunger in Uvwie and  Uwangue saw that as a sign of a divine direction to move to the source of the bountiful supplies which was confirmed by the Oracle.

 

  1. In about 1400 AD,  Uwangue  moved to the present Uvwie location and founded by spiritual direction the  Ekpokpo or Ewokpokpo as the new administrative headquarters of the Kingdom.
  1. With the migration of  Uwangue, the administration of some of the Uvwie people left behind at Effurun-otor fell on the council of elders (Ituaden – meaning group of white haired men) and the Otota, who was Eruowho.

 

  1. The absence of  Uwangue gave zest to the Ohovbore society which then became a controlling force in the clan council.
  1. At the death of Eruowho, there was a dispute as to who to succeed him as Otota of Effurun-otor. This dispute was between Ogoni, the brother of Eruowho and Uvwaro, the eldest son of Eruowho.

 

  1. To achieve some advantage, Uvwaro went to Benin to secure, like his father, an original conferment of the Ohovwore title. His uncle Ogoni resented this move and besiege him on his return and murdered him.
  1. After the death of Uvwaro, Ogoni then held sway at Effurun-otor and suppressing all Uvwaro’s supporters in a very brutal manner. Uvwaro’s younger brother named Emowha then fled Effurun-otor with his supporters to meet Uwangue in the present Uvwie. This was how the Eruowho’s descendant and supporters came into present day Uvwie.

 

  1. Uwangue dispatched an emissary to invite Ogoni to his new domain with a view to settle the dispute between Ogoni and Uvwaro’s supporters. Ogoni refused to honour the invitation.
  1. In response Ovie Uwangue sent Eletu (warlords) to fetch Ogoni to Uvwie. Ogoni resisted the warriors with the help of his inlaws from Ogor and Ughelli. (He had been married to the daughter to Ovie Adaghi of Ughelli). The Uvwie warriors routed Ogoni and his defenders whereupon, Ogoni committed succide.

 

  1. In other to consolidate the peace that followed the war, Ovie Uwangue decided to send his younger brother named Prince Odjan to Effurun-otor. Prince Odjan was escorted to Effurn-otor by the eldest son of Ovie Uwangue named Prince Okan. Prince Odjan was then installed as the Ovie of Effurun-otor.
  1. After Ovie Uwangue established his government, he reigned and died. He left behind four children namely Okan, Useh, Eleri and Avwoboyeta, a woman.

 

  1. Okan who had been at Effurun-otor with Ovie Odjan did not return to Uvwie to immediately ascend the throne of his father. The community was then administered by Prince Useh without coronation.
  1. Following a plague in Uvwie, the oracle advised that the ark of Ejudvwie be brought from Effurun-otor to cleanse the land. Prince Okan had the responsibility of establishing the essence of the ark which was then situated in the forest of Afieki in Uvwie.

 

  1. There ensued a tussle for the throne between Okan and Useh. However, both of them along with Eleri died in quick succession. This caused a prolonged period of interregnum
  1. During the interregnum, several Ototas and Olotus from the Urhien and Owhre line tried to exert themselves over the community as clan heads because of their title of spokesman and warlords coupled with the large number of war officers under them. They were able to suppress all opposition within their various quarters. But in the wider circle, it was very difficult to control the community outside their domains.

 

  1. They therefore sought for a different authority that will increase their powers above their various quarters. It was in view of this, including the influence of the Oba of Benin that prompted most of the influential Ototas to travel to Benin to obtain the blessing and support of the Benin monarch. This support determined their level of authority that essentially filled the vacuum created by the absence of an Imowe king.
  1. Otota Ororovbe of Erovie, Otota Onoseri of Ogbe, and the Ekpan group comprising Ajaji, Ovuowho, Edjekevwie, Eyaye and Onota collectively went to Benin from Ekpan. Ugberikoko and Ugboroke whose Ototas were not able to visit Benin went into oblivion in the traditional scheme of things.

 

  1. Whilst all these visitations to Benin thrived during the interregnum, none of them pretended to have bought kingship from Benin though rivalry of authority beyond each quarter was common.
  1.  Useh had a son named Okoro but he was no where to be found.

 

  1. A major catastrophic flooding of Uvwie  lead to a search for Okoro as instructed by the Oracle as a panacea to the catastrophe.  He was found as a very accomplished man in  Idebe an Ijaw ancestral location of his forebears. Emissaries from Uvwie  came back and reported “Okoro gini ‘Ovie” (meaning he is prosperous and indeed a king). He came back and ascended the throne as Okorovie.
  1. Before his ascension he went to Benin for the blessing of the Oba, married a Princess Ikogho. Amongst his children where his first son Eruma-Gborie a corrupted Benin name that means ‘You cannot take the world with you when you die’.

 

  1. Ovie Okorovie ruled and reign over Uvwie. He then re-established the Egware-Urubu and gave the title of unuevworo to each of the Ototas in the four active quarters and incorporated them into the Town Council to represent their quarters as Spokesmen.

 

  1. Ovie Okorovie reign till his death in the later part of 1839 leaving behind him eight sons and one daughter. His reign brought peace and prosperity to flourish in the kingdom.
  1. After the death of Okorovie, his eldest son Prince Erumagborie Okorovie was installed as Ovie in 1840 A.D His reign was full of events. Most importantly was his interaction with the British Government who were the colonial masters vied the various treaties that where ratified in 1894 Berlin Conference.

 

  1. In 1891 he first crossed swords with the British over Chief Arigbe (Olotu) who was wanted for an offence and went into hiding. Ovie Erumagborie was arrested until Arigbe came out of hiding. The British Consul Mr. P. Copland Crawford released him with apology and to appease him, Erumagborie was appointed a Paramount Warrant Chief in the Warri Native Court.
  1. Upon request by Major Claude MacDonald, British Consul, Erumagborie handed over his clan for British protection in 1891 and appointed Chief Arigbe to deputise for him on political affairs at Warri.

 

  1. One of those treaties was the one signed with Effurun in 1894 AD, with the seven families representatives having Eruma-Gborie  being Ovie as the number one signatory in the treaty.   
  1. In the activities of the Uvwie people with the British Olotu ARIGBE exercised delegated authority from Erumagborie as Unuevoro and Odibokporo having been appointed by the British Consul Mr. P. Copland Crawford to the Jekri – Sobo Native Authority from 1891 AD with the British Consul Claude Mac Donald.

 

  1. In the early part of the 19th Century, Oba Overame of Benin, Chief Nana of Ebrohimi and Ovie Erumagborie I were prominent in the fight against British imperialist in the Mid West. Ovie Erumagborie championed the cause of the whole Urhobo nation in their agitation against the Native Revenue (Extension) Ordinance of 1927.
  1. At the demise of Arigbe, Ovie Erumagborie appointed the next Unuevworo being Chief Agbamu in the stead of Arigbe.

 

  1. After the death of Erumagborie, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Prince Awefe Erumagborie II as the ovie of Uvwie ,on 6th November 1928.
  1. On the 31st March 1933 Ovie Awefe Erumagborie II was appointed a permanent member of the Uvwie Clan Court of Effurun, and the then Native Authority Council.

 

  1. In a petition to the Government , the head of Eruowho Family Chief Ayuluhu ( Unuevworo of Alegbor) described Awefe Erumagborie II as Ovie and JUJU priest of Uvwie ( Effurun) other signatory to the petition were  the late Chief Emoyife (Okpako)-most elderly man of Uvwie late Chief Okodu ( most Senior Ohovworen) and late Chief Itete (Otota).
  1. Chief Ayuluhu was one of those arrested with late Erumagborie I as an accomplice in his official  capacity as the Unuevworo of Uvwie, appointed by  the Ovie.

 

  1. In 1955, when the present Local Government set up was to be instituted in Western Urhobo , the Ovie of Uvwie  was not included in the instrument. Inserted therein were Unuevworo of Uvwie, and Ohovworen of Uvwie.
  1. The  Ohonvworen of Uvwie is a junior title in Uvwie, and Chief Ejekowho is the holder as published in the Gazette of 5th June 1958 there was no claim either publicly or privately made by Eruowho family that the Ovie of Uvwie title belong to them.

 

  1. Chief Edjekowho was satisfied with the Ohonvworen of Uvwie title till the  Western Urhobo District Council harkened to the voice of the Uvwie Community to amend the instrument establishing the Western Urhobo District Council to delete the Ohonvworen of Uvwie  from the instrument and substitute the Ovie of Uvwie.
  1. On the 6th February 1962, the Governor of western Nigeria Sir Adesoji Adereme sent a letter to Ovie Ovedje Erumagborie as the Ovie of Uvwie –The Governor express his sorrow and deep sympathy for the loss of Ovie Awefe Erumagborie II  sustained by IMOWE ROYAL FAMILY and people of Uvwie kingdom .

 

  1. During the installation of Ovie Ovedje Erumagborie, the Governments minister of information was  present ,in fact it was their able camera men that did the excellent stage by stage photographic coverage of the installation which was publish in the Daily Express of 23rd October1961
  1. After installation of Ovedje as the Ovie of Uvwie, telegrams and letters of congratulation poured in from Uvwie people abroad, high Government officials, ministers, Chiefs, and nobles wishing him a long and prosperous reign over his people.

 

  1. Among nobles and very important personalities who acknowledge Ovedje such recognition in their letter  to the Uvwie National assembly were His Excellency “The Great Zik of Africa” Governor General of Nigeria.
  1. On the 7th February 1962 the Uvwie state union reminded the Western Urhobo District Council of the original request to delete the Ohovworen from the instrument and substitute it with the Ovie title.

 

  1. In his work, “The Pride of Urhobo Nation’ by Yamu Numa and published in March 1950, the picture of Awafe sitting on his royal throne was displayed with a historical citation which says AWAFE, ERUMAGBORIE II, the Ovie of Uvwie. He ascended the throne on November 6 1928. His late father Erumagborie Okorovie, Ovie of Uvwie was one of the signatories to the Effurun (Uvwie) Treaty in 1894”. The plaintiffs shall found the book titled THE PRIDE OF URHOBO NATION.                                      

ADMINISTRATION OF UVWIE UNDER THE ERUMAGBORIE DYNASTY

  1. When Uvwie people migrated to the present Uvwie settlement the Urhie  descendant settled In Ekpan, Ogbe. Urejor and Ugboroke quarters while the Owhre descendants settled In Alaka, Erovie, Ugbomro and Ugborikoko quarters.
  2. They all continued (that is Owhre and Urhie) in their functions as spokesmen and war lord of their various quarters." A wooden stump of three feet tall ( called Etse) that the Otota/Onuevworo normally sat on in Afieke (Market Square) while the Ovie is conferring on him the title of Unuevworo in their various quarters became the symbol of the Chieftaincy  that evolved out of each Unuevworo in their various quarters.
  3. Ekpokpor (now called Effurun) the present commercial centre of the Uvwie Kingdom evolved out of contiguous development of Alaka, Erovie and Ogbe Quarters.
  4. With the evolution of Effurun as a city centre, the entire Uvwie Community was classified into seven family lines in accordance with the seven children of Uvwie namely: Imowe, Orhomor, Ugbeun, Ohran, Urhien, Owhre and Atama. Each of these family lines were represented by titles namely Okpo, Akarikoko, Erhe, Onotu, Onoye, Ayoba and Ugovborl. They were collectively called, Iniyevworo (mothers or Owners of our land).
  5. In this way, Ekpokpor or Evwokpokpor was made the administrative headquarter of the entire kingdom by the community. The area where the Ovie resided was named “Erovie” (Kings Enclave) and its entrance was name Enuorere (City Entrance). The entire community deity was installed at the beginning of Erovie. This was a replication of the communual structure at Effurun-otor.

 

The King in council is referred to as Eguar Urubu and it comprises the following in order:
Ovie                      -           The King
Iniyevworo            -           The King makers
Okpakorevwo       -           Oldest man of the Clan
Odibokporo           -           Highest servant
Ituaden                  -           Association of Oldest men of each quarter
Inuevworo -           Spokesmen of each quarter
Ewheuvwie     -     Spokesmen of the Oldest men of each quarter and heads of the working class.

Idibodje    -           Assistants to the Iniyevworos
Ikrikpokpo            -           Policemen or Executioners
Olori-ewheyare     -           Head of the women folks

  1. The above is the structure of the Uvwie Clan Council. Other councils in the town where minor cases and dispute are decided are:

Eguare-Ehonvwore (Edion)-(Council of Chiefs)
Eguare-Udumu(Quarter Council)
Eguare-Ekrun (Family Council)

 

  1. The Imowe/Erumagborle family’s claims to the Ovie stool is due to the fact that they are the descendants of Imowe the eldest son of Uvwie, the father of the Uvwie people.
  1. The Imowe titles of Okpo(Head), Okporokpo(Lion) and Ajuwe(ancestral representatives) still borne by the family clearly attest to this fact.

 

  1. In proof of the above Uvwie traditional arrangement, the Imowe/Erumagborle royal family successively produced several Ovie of Uvwie at different times and in sucession of one another, namely, Erumagborle 1, Awefe Erumagborle 11, and Ovedje Erumagborle  111, who ruled the community as both political head and Chief priest.
  1. As the chief priest, the Ovie officiated during the annual festivals of the entire community diety. As political head, the Ovie heads the Highest Clan Council called Urubu, where dispute concerning the entire clan are settled. The Ovie also installed the Unuevworo and collected tributes from any Ohonvwore installed by the Unuevworo.

 

 

  1. Eruowho was the father of  Uvwaro and Emowha,
  1. Abe and Imeduo are not children of Ogun and are not direct brothers of Eruowho. Abe and Imeduo were born on the present Uvwie settlement whereas Eruowho was born, lived and died in Effurun-otor.

 

  1. Abe a woman initially got married to Adague of Ijakpa quarters and gave birth to two children, Ikpru and another. Later left the marriage and got married to Onoseri of Urhumaro quarters and gave birth to Ajomata and Ariegwen.
  1. Owhre line is presently made up of Eruowho and Igbo families of Alaka, Uwerume family of Erovie. Ororobe family of Ugbomro and Owhre family of Ugboroke. By right they were all Otota in their various domain.

 

  1. In the administrative structure of Uvwie, there are four Quarters namely Alaka Quarter, Erovie Quarter, Ogbe Quarter and Ekpan Quarter respectively. Until recently, Ugbomro was administered as part of Erovie Quarters while Ugberikoko and Ugboroke as part of Ogbe.
  1. From time immemorial, each of the four quarters of Uvwie possess an Unuevboro of its own, inter dependent of one another selected by Elders, Ehovbore and leaders of the quarter community.

 

  1. The Unuevboro of each quarter is to represent his quarter community in the central traditional council of Uvwie at Afieki known as Egware-Urubu.
  1. The Unuevboro title was formerly known as Otota. Otota and Unuevboro have the same meaning and liguistice importance. The title holder is regarded as the Chief Spokesman of his own quarter community.

 

  1. There had never been anytime in history where a single individual had been made to be a permanent holder of the Unuevboro title for the whole clan, as a super eminent unuevboro known as Unuevboro of Uvwie.
  1. When th Unuevboro of the four quarters respectively come to Afieki to attend Egware_Urubu, they are all regarded as equals.

 

  1. An Unuevboro can only aspire to the rank of Odibokporo of the Edjuvwie prieshold and no more.
  1. The Western Nigeria legal Notice of 26th March 1962 which designated Chief Johnson Edjekohwo as Ovie of Uvwie and Chief Tobi Ikaka as Unuevboro of Uvwie were simply a demonstration of Government Magical powers as there was no title know as Unuevboro of Uvwie at the time and Chief Edjekohwo was not the reigning Ovie of Uvwie. Plaintiffs shall lead evidence to establish this fact at the trial.

 

  1. Tragic aspect of the history of Uvwie Ovieship began with Ovie Erumagborie 1, the son and successor of Ovie Okorovie.
  1. He led the Uvwie and Urhobo  in protest against the colonial British government exploitation and levying of tax on indigenous people.

 

  1. In response to this affront to colonial authority, the british colonialist lent their support for the warrant chiefs and to support them against the clan council in order to implement their policies which the clan council has considered alien and anti-Uvwie.
  1. In furtherance of the above, Ovie Erumaghorie 1, the Ovie of Uvwie, Ejenuka, the oldest man of the clan and Ayuluhu, the Unuevworo of Alegbo (and descendant of Eruohwo) were arrested. This was reported nationally by the Lagos Daily News of 6th and 7th February 1928 and same shall be relied on at the trial.

 

  1. The humiliation of Erurnagborie 1, by the British colonial government eventually led to his death.
  1.  Awhefe, the eldest son of Erumagborie 1 succeeded him In November 1928 as 0vie of Uvwie, Erumagborie II.

 

  1. During the  reign of Awhefe Erumagborie II, the disunity masterminded by the imperialist started affecting the community with the original traditional structure suppressed and the colonialist creation empowered.
  1. In 1953 Chief Johnson Edjekpwho Eruowho had been conferred with the chieftaincy (Ohovwore) of Uvwie by Ovie Awefe Erumagborie. And paid the traditional fees of  7 cola nuts, 7 coconut, 7 white chalk, 7 cakes of soap, 7 bunch of plantain, 1 tin of palm Oil, 7 gallons of palm wine, 1 she goat and [ money].

 

  1. In December 1953, it was alleged that the Ogun family was sponsoring Chief Edjekohwo as Ovie of Uvwie. This was reported in the Daily Times issued of 16th December 1953.
  1. Awefe Erumagborie who was then on the throne promptly protested the conspiracy to the Senior Resident, Warri Province on 19th December 1953. Plaintiffs shall lead evidence in proof of this at the trial and shall found on the relevant documents.

 

  1. However, the conspiracy came to light when Edjekohwe was reported coronated as Ovie of Uvwie at a ceremony which held on January 27th 1954.
  1. After the aforesaid coronation, Chief Edjekowho Eruowho proclaimed a parallel Ovieship with Ovie Awefe Erumagborie, but still bore the gazetted title of Ohovboren of Uvwie.

 

  1. As Chief Johnson Uvwiekoko Edjekowho and his supporters became unyielding and unamenable to peaceful co-existence, Ovie Awefe Erumagborle 11 instituted court proceedings against those who claim to be the leading member of the Eruowho family and supporters. They were arrested and charged to court for unlawful claim to the Ovie title.
  1. When the matter was brought before Magistrate Ogumuyiwa on the 31st day of January 1955, he advised that Uvwie people should return home to dialogue as brothers.

 

  1. On the 28th February 1955, as the minutes of Uvwie Community meeting revealed, Chief Edumudjeke, the senior Unuevworo in consultation with the Inievboro, Ekpako. Otuaden. Ehovboren, Iwhuwie and lIori  Eweyare, summoned a meeting of all Uvwie people and invited all sections of the community. At the end of the deliberation Eruowho 11 claims were refuted and rejected while that of Awefe Erumoghor,le 11 were accepted. The resolutions reached were sent by Chief Edumudjeke to Ibadan on March 6th, 1955 and titled “The Uvwie Mass Meeting for Peace.” Plaintiff shall found on all documents relating to the meeting.
  1. After this, Eruohwo and his supporters adopted another tactic. They introduced one Odjikwo, a native doctor from Ogbe quarter into the scene to rival Ovie Awefe Erumagborle, 11 and to usurp the priestly functions of the Ovie.

 

  1. There was a pact between Odjikwo and Chief Johnson EdJekohwo that if they succeeded in dethroning Awhefe Erumagborie II, Odjikwo will be the Priest and Chief Johnson Edjekowho would be king.
  1. From then on, one usually heard Odjikwo call Johnson Edjekohwo, “Umogun”, meaning you will Judge to remind him of their pact not to interfere in the priestly aspect of the Ovieship, This is the origin of the name “Umogun” by which Chief Johnson Edjekohwo was called. Odjikwo then usurped the original nick-name of the Ovie which is OKPO. (Head).

 

  1. This was how the Qvie and priesthood of' Edjuvwie which, were originally interwoven was wrongfully separated and held by two different persons.
  1. On the 9th of December 1957. It was rumoured that Odjikwo was going to Edjuvwe shrine at Afieki to be initiated into the priesthood and to perform ceremonies at the royal shrine. When the information was brought to Ovie Awhefe Erumagborle 11, he reported the matter to the government and sought legal consent of the Attorney General, to institute criminal charges against Mr. Odjikwo and 13 others who were his collaborators.

 

  1. On the 26th June 1957, the Attorney-General of Western Region. Noel Grant Hay after satisfying himself about the traditional position of Awhefe Erumagborle as Ovie and High priest. issued a fiat for the persecution of Mr. Odjikwo and the 13 others.
  1. The suit against Odjikwo and 12 others was instituted at the Magistrate Court of Western Region sitting at Warri in the Warri Magisterial district as Suit MW/MISC/6/1957. The plaintiffs shall found on relevant court processes at the trial.

 

  1. When the case was brought before magistrate Obileye,  the accused denied the charge and anything to do with Ejuvwie. Due to lack of sufficient evidence to prove the case, the magistrate accepted Odjikwo’s denial as true and dismissed the case. He then awarded 15 guineas as cost to the accused.

 

  1. HRH Awhefe Erumagborle 11 the Ovie of Uvwie was still the only Ovie on the throne when he died on the 6th of February 1961 after over thirty years on the throne. Due to the fact that he did not have a male child, he was succeeded by' his nephew Prince Randolph Stephen Ovedje Erumagborie, whose candidature was accepted by all members of the Imowe Ruling Family.
  1. On the 13th October 1961 Prince Randolph Stephen Ovedje Erumaghorie was led from Lagos to Effurun by the Uvwie people, resident in Lagos, Ghana. Kano and other parts of  Nigeria to occupy the traditional office of his forefathers as the Ovie of Uvwie.

 

  1. His coronation ceremony was scheduled to take place on the 15th October 1961 but before his arrival on the 14th October, 1961. Chief Edjekohwo and his supporters had intimated the police  about the proposed installation ceremony , and he was invited to the police station in Warri.
  1. On the same day of his arrival 14th October 1961, he received a summon to appear in court immediately. In the suit, a superintendent of Police. Mr. Omoregbe sought the order of the court to get nine chiefs in Uvwie including Chief Johnson Edjekohwo and Prince Ovedje Erumogborie to keep the peace and to restrain them from doing anything that would breach the peace. In that suit. J Barrister Odje made fruitless efforts to establish that Chief Johnson Edjekowho' was the Ovie of Uvwte. The counsel for Prince Ovedje Erumagborie, Barrister Akpofure submitted that Chief Edjekowho was the Ohovwore and not an Ovie and  tendered the Gazette of 5th June 1958 to buttress his submission.

 

  1. The Chief Magistrate. Mr. Rhodes Vivour permitted that the installation ceremony should go on but advised that during the ceremony there should be no abusive songs to annoy the opposite party. On the 15th October 1961. Prince Ovedje Erumagborie was crowned accordingly as the Ovie of Uvwie.
  1. The Coronation of Ovedje as Erumagborie III was widely acclaimed and celebrated. A Coronation Almanac was issued and distributed and same was sent to many notable personages in the Western region. Amonsg which was the Premier of Western Nigeria, governor of Western Region, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Western Nigeria, the Owa of Ijesha land and the Action Group Party. Plaintiffs shall found on relevant documents at trial.

 

  1. On 8th  March 1962. a supplementary gazette was published with a notification  that the Ohonvboren of Uvwie is being changed to Ovie of Uvwie and that if the council wishes to make' any representation to this effect, it should make it within 30 days of the publication. Plaintiff shall rely on the said gazette at the trial.
  1. Accordingly, the  Erumagborie family, U.G.I.U and several quarters of Uvwie wrote several letters in order to stop this move. The pandemonium that ensued led to the appointment of a commission of enquiry in August 1962 headed by Mr. McCall. He conducted his enquiry and submitted his report. The Report never saw the light of day and all efforts to get government to publish the report proved abortive. Plaintiffs shall found on copies of some of the letters written on the issue.

 

  1. The Report of the McCall Commission was suppressed from seeing the light of day through political manipulations and intrigues designed to subvert the true history and tradition of the Uvwie people.
  1. In a protest letter dated 9th September 1962 with two other members of the Eruohwo, Imedo and Abe families denounced the claim of Johnson Eruowho to the Ovie and asserted that the stool of Ovie is hereditary and resides only in the Imowe Ruling house.

 

  1. Following repeated agitation another Commission was instituted under Mr. R. C. Nwabokwu as sole Commissioner to conduct another enquiry. This Commission never sat or made any reported.
  1. The Uvwie people and the umbrella union of UGIU vigorously protested the travesty by government of Uvwie traditional institutions as it relates to the Ovie stool occupied by Ovie Erumagborie III

 

  1. The plaintiffs aver that Uvwie has a theocratic administration in ancient times and the Edjuvwie High Priest was the Ovie of Uvwie.
  1. Ovie Ovedje and seven (7) others instituted Suit No. W/30/69 in the High Court, MidWestern State holden at Warri  aginst Chief Johnson Edjekohwo and six (6) others challenging the right of the defendants to create and parade a parallel Ovie in Uvwie Kingdom.  Plaintiffs shall found on relevant court processes at the trial

 

  1. HRH Ovedje Erumagborle 111 continued in his struggle to reverse the Government travesty of custom and justice until he died in 3rd of April 1977 leaving behind nine children namely Horebabor Randolph Erumagborie (m), Okierumutere Beauty  Erumagborie (f), Arievwode Marylyn Erumagborie (f), Rukeme Erumagborie (f), Ochuke Lious Erumagborie (m), Ogbateroghoke Augustine Erumagborie (m), Oyonvo Gary Erumagborie (m), Urueriesiri Erumagborie (f), Urieme Greg Erumagborie (m).
  1. Chief Johnson Uvwiekoko Edjekowho Eruohwo in connivance with his supporters of ohovborens procured the Bendel Government in 1979 to issue another Gazette enthroning a succession system to the stool of Ovie of Uvwie whereby the stool will be rotated between Eruowho Abe and Imedo families as new ruling houses in Uvwie.

 

  1. The aforesaid gazette embodying the Edict titled "Traditional Rulers and Chief Edict with ref No B,S,L.N 100 of 1979 was done without the consent and blessing of the entire community.
  1. There had never been an Eruowho who ruled in Uvwie history as Ovie before the advent of Chief Johnson Uvwiekoko Edjekohwo Eruohwo

 

  1. The Erumagborie claim to the stool of the OVIE of UVWIE is based on the established tradition and custom that Uvwie had always operated a theocratic system of government.
  1. Prince Horebabor Randolph Erumagborie, the eldest son of Ovie Ovedje Erumagborie III who is the heir to the throne of his father, was thirteen (13) years old when his father passed at the age of 47.

 

  1. The plaintiffs aver that young Randolph Erumagborie became the object of threats from those who were bent on exterminating the Erumagborie and Imowe dynasty. The Imowe family then scurried him away to safety in foreign lands until maturity.
  1. Prince Horebabor Randolph Erumagborie is the heir to the stool of Ovie of Uvwie and is entitled to be the next Ovie of Uvwie same by hereditary.

 

  1. Wherefore the plaintiffs claim against the defendants as follows:
    1. A declaration that the members of Imowe Royal family of Uvwie in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State are the persons exclusively entitled to produce the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom.

 

    1. A declaration that the members of Imowe Royal family of Uvwie are persons entitled to produce the next Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom.
    1. A declaration that the 1st plaintiff, who is a member of the plaintiffs’s of Imowe Royal family, is the person eligible and entitled to be selected, nominated and/or installed as the Ovie of Uvwie.

 

    1. A declaration that the official gazette No. 51 volume 6, dated 26th September 1979, of the defunct Bendel State, particularly as it relates to the Ovie of Uvwie is  incompatible with and/or in violation of the custom and tradition of the Uvwie people.

 

    1. An order setting aside the official gazette No. 51, Volume 6, dated 26th September 1979 of the then Bendel State government on grounds that the same is incompatible with and/or in violation of the custom and tradition of the Uvwie people particularly as it relates to qualification and/or manner of ascension to the throne of Ovie of Uvwie kingdom.
    1. A declaration that the 1st defendant, who is not a member of the plaintiffs, Imowe Royal family, is not qualified or eligible to be selected, nominated and/or installed as the Ovie of Uvwie kingdom.

 

    1. A declaration that the purported selection, nomination and/or installation of the 1st defendant as the Ovie of Uvwie kingdom is null and void on the grounds that the purported selection, nomination and/or installation is incompatible with and also in breach of the established custom and tradition of the Uvwie people.
    1. An order setting aside all steps leading to and inclusive of selection, nomination and/or installation of the 1st defendant as the Ovie of Uvwie kingdom.

 

    1. An order of injunction restraining the 1st defendant from holding or further holding himself out as, or performing the functions of, Ovie of Uvwie kingdom
    1. An order of injunction restraining the 2nd - 8th defendants their agents and/or servants from further giving effect in any manner whatsoever to the purported selection, nomination and/or installation of the 1st defendant as the Ovie of Uvwie kingdom

 

    1. An order of perpetual injunction restraining 9th, 10th and 11th defendants, their agents, servants and or privies from giving or further giving recognition in any manner whatsoever to the purported selection, nomination and /or installation of the 1st defendant as Ovie of Uvwie kingdom.
    1. An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 9th, 10th, and 11th defendants, their agent, servants and/or privies from presenting, causing to be presented and /or suffering the presentation of staff of office as Ovie of Uvwie kingdom to the 1st defendant.

 

Dated at Effurun this 14th day of March 2008.

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