There is a tension in Umuahii, Obi Mbieri Autonomous Community in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State, as what started like a joke is now turning into a crises so much that if not well handled may escalate into communal war that could claim lives and properties.
The bone of contention is the refusal of the Traditional Ruler of Obi-Mbieri, HRH Eze Josiah Osuji, to approve the burial of his late senior brother’s wife Ezinne Lois Osuji who died since February, 2020. The Eze’s refusal to allow the burial to take place despite several appeals by the community, leaders of thought, and even the intervention of the state government directive during the COVID-19 period, is presently a great concern to the people.
Narrating their ordeal, one of the sons of Late Ezinne Lois Osuji, Chief Aldophus Osuji (Aririerimba of Mbieri) told our roving reporter that, “my late mother has been in the mortuary since February 2020, because my uncle, HRH Eze Josiah Osuji has refused that she would not be buried in her late husband’s compound where the husband (my father), was buried in 2006 when Eze Josiah was 70 years old”.
Continuing,the bereaved, Chief Adolphus Osuji said “the problem started when Eze Josiah Osuji, a foster son to my father whom my father raised, accommodated and trained, wrote to us 15years after the death of my father that I and my sibblings should pack-out of the compound. It was a surprise to us which made us to reply him, stating all that our father told us concerning the land. Infact we threatened to sue him if he fails to retract the letter. We equally petitioned him to our kinsmen.
“However, following the death of our mother early this year, we came back home so that we could repair our fathers house in preparation for the burial. The Eze initiated a police action against us claiming that we destroyed his palace. Even when the police at Orie Mbieri division ordered us to go home on the 4th of March 2020, to put the property in order for the burial,the Eze disallowed us. Surprisingly, before we could get back home, Eze Josiah locked up the entire compound with thugs and armed police men and since then we have no access to our ancestral home and the gate has been sealed against us. Every efforts made for the issue to get resolved has proved abortive as the Eze has remained adamant to our plight. He recently instituted a civil action against us in the High Court and has vowed not rescind his decision, stressing that he would never have anything to do with us. I am therefore using this opportunity to appeal to Imo State government, the Security Agencies, Ndi Nze naOzo etc to call HRH Eze Josiah Osuji of Obi Mbieri to order to avoid further breach of peace and cataclysm because any time I remember that my late mother is still in the mortuary, I feel angered and unhappy”.
Meanwhile some of the villagers who spoke to our reporter revealed that since the enthronement of Eze Josiah Osuji, the Community has never enjoyed peace. They condemned the action of the Eze and expressed worry over his tyrannical disposition which they said made the community to be in total disarray.
Mr. Jesford Onwu, who is one of the elders in the community in his reaction to the impasse, condemned the action of the Eze for taking his late senior brother’s children to police and initiated a court action when his late senior brother’s wife is still in the mortuary. “Infact no Eze in Mbieri has taken his subjects to the Police, before or in this manner. Even when our pioneer Eze Achuko, Eze Ozuzuoha Mbieri was alive he never did that but Eze Josiah Osuji has almost taken the entire community to the Police. I Jesford Onwuis a victim of Eze’s Police case and highhandedness or ruthlessness. Since his enthronement, there has never been any peace in Obi Mbieri. You can ask other people. 95% of the community are against him because of his wickedness”.
The President General of Obi Mbieri, Sir. Clement Opara said that peace is what is paramount to them now, but further recomended that they have to withdraw the case from the Police/Court before they can wade in.
The youth leader of the community Mr. CY Jonah said that it is their wish that peace and harmony be restore without further delay. He added that youths are trying to intervene in the matter in order to bring peace since the elders have failed. He stated that although it is a family issue, but it has gone wild out of control and expressed surprise that why peace is being advocated by all the interest groups, the Eze still went to court.
He then advised the two parties to eschew peace and rancor because they are brothers.
Our reporter who visited the community observed that the gate in question is still under lock and key with fierce looking thugs manning the entrance at the gate and every effort to reach the traditional ruler yielded no result as he avoided journalists who came for clarification.
Effort to reach the traditional ruler for comment was unsuccessful as he did not take his calls or return same.