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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Onomo crisis: Jubilation in Benue community as Owukpa adopts government-created Ward system 

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The people of Owukpa District in Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State have put an end to the lingering disputes which have crippled the growth and development of the community for several years.

The resolutions reached at the meeting held at Ai Odu Primary School on Saturday, 15th June 2024, threw the people into jubilation as they hugged themselves, dinned together and prayed for sustained love, peace and unity among the people of Owukpa.

The peace meeting was conveyed by Chief Ewaoche Obe-led 3-man committee. Obe is a professional mediator and crisis resolution expert after wider consultations with Idoma traditional authorities and Owukpa stakeholders.

TREND recalls that the community was thrown into crises over Owukpa District Head vacant position. Unfortunately, the position which has resulted in multiple court cases amongst lineages and individuals is no longer recognized across Idoma land by the government of Benue State as enshrined in the State Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs law.

The development informed the new resolutions to, henceforth, align the governance of the community with the recognized Ward system which is a creation of Benue State government.

In a communique jointly signed by Chief Ewaoche Obe, Barr Enenche Ekoja and Hon Abakpa David Otobo at the end of the peace meeting in Owukpa on Saturday, the people of Owukpa resolved that, “1. After reviewing the positions of the parties in dispute, proposals/recommendations and consultations from other stakeholders and traditional rulers and institutions in Idoma land, with relevant laws by the State government, it was discovered that the fight is baseless as the position of district head (Och’Owukpa) is no longer recognized by Benue State chieftaincy law. Rather, what is recognized now is Ward Head system. This is why Owukpa today is grouped into four (4) wards – two wards in Itabono (Itabono Ward l and ll) and two wards in Ehaje (Ehaje ward l and ll) and each is headed by a Ward Head. Obviously, therefore, the fight is overtaken by the law. However, as a heritage and pride, Owukpa may keep the position alive to be serviced by the community.

” 2. A) Every Ward (Itabono Ward l and ll and Ehaje Ward l and ll) should, henceforth, be responsible for itself without interference from any other Ward. B) Each should present its zoning/rotational system within itself according to clans/lineages within three weeks and to be shared to all Owukpa worldwide for implementation in all Owukpa meetings. C) Any person(s) or group(s) that is not from a particular Ward but found interfering in the affairs of another Ward shall be sanctioned by the Owukpa Traditional Area Council. D) Owukpa Traditional Area Council is given full authority to govern the community in accordance with the lay down leadership structure. E) In dispute resolution, it should strictly begin with Ona’gene to Clan Head to Ward Head to Och’Owukpa (Onomo) level where it couldn’t be resolved at the Ward Head level.

“3. A) No Owukpa son/daughter or group should take the other to court until after the dispute resolution channels as in E above is exhausted. B) Any Chief found compromised will be reported to the appropriate authority for disciplinary action.

“4. A) Every Ward Head and its stakeholders should constitute a 5-man committee to oversee the development of the Ward. B) Five selected persons/delegates from each family/clan/lineage as the case may be in each Ward and to be headed by a national chairman should form a leadership to oversee the Owukpa Community development and progress. C) A and B above shall all be tenured accordingly.

“5. A) The submission/presentation of the position of one of the parties in court on the Onomo shall be forwarded to the other party to peruse and present theirs to the committee set up to look at it with the lawyers of both parties in order to do proper justice to the cases in court to come out with the best way forward. B) However, since the recommendation that the Ochidu clan that has never produced Onomo in Owukpa was not challenged by any of the group or party, the clan should be allowed to produce the next ceremonial Onomo for the interest of peace and justice.

“6. A) All Wards should present their rotational arrangements and occupants of the Ward. B) All rotations according to families/clans/lineages should follow acceptable rotational system without fear or favour.

“7. Every Ward shall make contributions for security, development programmes and youths empowerment in the Ward and Owukpa as a whole.”

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