By Davidson Iriekpen â€¨
The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City, Edo State has declared the Umu Obi Obahai royal family of Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State as the only family qualified to produce Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.
The court, in a unanimous judgment also upheld the appointment of the father of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Professor Chukuka Okonjo, as the authentic Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.
It also upheld the decision of the High Court of Delta State, Ogwashi-Uku which sat on the same issue in 2007.
The current Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, Okonjo, comes from the Umu Obi Obahai royal lineage of Ogwashi-Uku.
In determining the appeal, the Court of Appeal upheld nine out of the 10 reliefs sought by the Umu Obi Obahai royal family, including the issue of which family can produce the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.
The judgment endorsed the position of the Obahai family that succession to the throne of the Obi of Ugwashi Uku is hereditary by primogeniture and that the last validly installed Obi of Ugwashi Uku was Obahai.
It also confirmed that Dieyi, the forefather of the Dieyi family which challenged the Obahai position was never an Obi but a mere regent, who held the throne in trust because Obahai’s children were minors at the time of his death.
Obi Obahai reigned from 1870 to 1882 and after his demise, the regency had prevailed until 22 years ago when the descendants of Obahai decided to take back their stool. To achieve this, they felt that the only weapon is not through a ‘palace coup’ but to seek redress in the court of law.
The defendants in the case, on the other hand, contended that the Obiship had changed hands severally and, having been gazetted by the state government, the stool should remain with the Dieyi Family.
This prompted the plaintiffs, especially the Okonjos, to go court.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, Law Okolobi, said Obi and the Obi-in-Council, were pleased that the truth in this matter had been confirmed and justice meted out.
The statement added that the Obi’s convinced that the judgement was a victory for the entire people of Ogwashi-Uku.
“His Majesty, the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, Professor Chukuka Okonjo and the Obi-in-Council, are very pleased that that the truth in this matter has been confirmed and justice has been done.
“It is the Obi’s conviction that the judgement is a victory for the entire people of Ogwashi-Uku,” the statement read.