The ancient Kingdom of Idumuje Ugboko is one of Nigeria’s busiest pathways to the Northern hinterlands and Federal Capital. A major federal highway snakes through this rural town, hidden inside beautiful savannah and dotted with the symphonic sounds of whistling palm trees and swinging exotic scenes of nature and vegetation.
It is a small town where heaven hugs earth dwellers. Idumuje Ugboko people are mostly producers agro-economy rural natives and proud traditionalists, as enchanting as a streaking morning sunrise.
Idumuje Ugboko’s earth spreads across a nine-mile heavenly platform, meanders through deep valleys and streaming rivers of life, a serene landscape blessed the people of Anioma inside the Aniocha local government of Delta State.
It is an amazing ancient Kingdom with incredible cultural heritage, comprising a homogenous group of four villages and ruled by a hereditary monarchy.
It is also protected by other small towns that share historical relationships with regards to their existence. These towns include Idumuje Unor, Onicha Ugbo, Isele Ukwu. Through the years, these towns have been divinely favored by hometown affluence and influential indigenes that impacted their hometowns in different ways: Late Rev Martin Diai, a Baptist Minister from Isele Uku, a fascinating town in Aniocha North local government of Delta State.
By the early 20th century, the visionary and pioneer empowered his small town with a few basic necessities of life and liberty: He built primary and secondary schools. He also built the first known health care center in that Aniocha axis: The secondary school, before it changed to Oligbo Grammar school was known as Pilgrims Baptist Grammar school. The hospital was Pilgrims hospital.
These institutions provided education and healthcare to Issele Uku and surrounding towns within Anioma/Aniocha and the delta state region. Late diokpa Joseph Moemeke was an Idumuje Ugboko philanthropist who founded the Saint Paul’s Commercial College in Aba, Abia State.
“The school provided a veritable opportunity for early education of young Ugboko citizens which he sponsored”. He did not use his money to hurt his people…. Sons and daughters of these nearby towns used their wealth to empower their towns: lady Vicky of Onicha Ugbo opened a bakery factory and also a gas station. Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the later day Minister of Petroleum used his wealth to finance education for Onicha Ugbo and Ezechima indigenes.
By the mid-90s, Idumuje Ugboko was privileged a successful British trained Attorney, Chinedu Munir Nwoko.
Chinedu is also from the Idumuje Ugboko Royal Family. After a successful legal profession in Britain, Chinedu, Ned Nwoko, as he is fondly recognized, returned to Nigeria to participate in Nigeria’s new democracy. He contested for House of Rep, representing Aniocha North and Oshimili Federal constituency and in 1999, was elected to the house wherein he served between 1999 and 2003.
“Ned Nwoko was part of those instrumental to the initiation of the London and Paris Club Loans into Nigeria. He authored the reports that led to the Nigeria government’s discontinuation of monthly deductions from states’ allocations and commencement of refunds to States… Through his Law firm, Ned Nwoko Solicitors and his Company, he investigated the multinational creditors and discovered discrepancies in loan repayments, and this resulted in the refund of the first tranches of loan during Obasanjo administration.
He also charged the Federal government to court on behalf of 774 Local governments for the refund of illegal deductions and obtained a judgment of $3.2billion for the local governments. The Federal government of Nigeria has started refunding the monies in line with the court judgment of 2013…”
Ned Nwoko’s mega wealth came from the $3.2Billion settlement case he won for the local governments. The percentages are usually 33 1/3. It is fair to assume that this case and its financial rewards included Ned Nwoko’s agreed Attorney’s fees, which set in motion his place in the league of Nigeria’s billionaires, the affluence and the powerful in Nigeria’s political and social panorama.
Financial wealth is the ultimate game-changer for any soul. Financial independence, surplus money in a corrupt society such as Nigeria can buy you anything and empower you to rock the boats of life. You can do everything: buy whatever your eyes blessed.
Ned Nwoko, the rural Idumuje Ugboko lucky kid that found wealth, was no exception to the nuance of money, material, and madness. He would set his price on the prized possessions of the people of his ancient kingdom: their ancestral farmlands and crops, as he launched a daring disengagement of landowners’ rights in his hometown. His focus turned to vulnerable landowners and every land in Idumuje Ugboko
With abundant money, power and prerogative as a young politician, Ned Nwoko aggressively pursued his land acquisition desire in his hometown. It’s my understanding that during those times of early opulence, he approached the King of IdumujeUgboko, late Royal Highness, Obi Albert Nwoko III for a prized land in what was considered a developing upscale part of that rural hometown.
About 25 years ago, Idumuje Ugboko Development Union, in efforts to encourage civilization and open society of its rural town, initiated a plan to develop some fertile parts of its lands in order to attract commercial investors, new homeownership and modernization.
It stipulated that the new layout shall be available to any indigene ready for real estate and other commercial structural development that would enhance the rural town. The layout was designated as a pricey prime area of hometown Idumuje Ugboko. It covered midtown to the borderlands between Idumuje Ugboko and Onicha Ugbo.
Between 1999 and 2003, Ned Nwoko was a freshman Legislator, House of Reps. He used his influence as a Congressman to approach the King of Ugboko, the Late Obi Albert Nwoko III. He informed the King of his desire to develop a Dairy Farm. He appealed for land to be given to him for the massive projects.
His Royal Highness allegedly portioned 33 hectares(81.5 Acres) of land from the town’s designated Commercial prime land area, to Nwoko. Ned allegedly further informed the Obi that the 33 hectares of land would also be used for Dairy Farm: the first Dairy Farm in Aniocha Local Government. Nearly 20 years after the land was gifted, Ned’s Dairy Farm dream is as distanced as a fading moonlight.
Meanwhile, the Development Union protested the gift to Ned by the king: that Ned had never been a member of the association of the town and had never identified with the progress of Idumuje Ugboko. He had through those years, distanced himself from the town and its people.
Also, the London branch of Idumuje Ugboko Development Union, in its protest letter to the Obi and Council of Elders then, reminded the traditional institution that Ned had not met his membership financial obligations to the development of the town while he was in London.
He owed 1,500 pounds, as past dues, to the association of the town in London. Abuja branch, I understand, also protested Ned never related or associated with his hometown’s organization:” He never contributed or identified with the land of his birth until his desire to acquire lands because of his sudden wealth”.
A few years after the land issuance palava, His Royal Highness listened to his subordinates, approached the Development Union and apologized for the oversight of allocating a pricey prime area to Ned Nwoko. Ned, like every indigene interested in purchasing a plot within that commercial zone, was given three years to develop the land. Nothing, to this day, has happened on the land. Ned promised that he was going to build Dairy Farm on the acquired land. He further annexed a portion of land designated as an expansion of the town’s only secondary school, Comprehensive Secondary school.
During the mid-decade, Ned Nwoko requested from the Obi additional land allocation which His Royal Highness denied and refused any land allocation in a letter to the Idumuje Ugboko Development Union dated May 26th , 2015.
Five days later, ( May 31st, 2015),Ned originated an M.O.U (Memoranda of understanding) purportedly between Linas International and supposedly representative of Idumuje Ugboko Community. The memoranda read in part, that:”
a) The community will invest 90 hectares as equity participation (subject to a positive report of the committee on the viability of the project), while Linas International will invest billions of naira for the construction of a Golf Course.
b) Both Linas International and the Community shall operate under a Limited Liability Company – Royal Golf Club Limited for the purpose of this project.
c) The Community will execute irrevocably Power of Attorney and Deeds of Community Investment, Conveyance and Assignment.
d) The Community’s equity shareholding would be pegged to the value of the parcel of land contributed.
- The M.O.U. was signed by all members of the 25th May, 2015 Committee and another 10 persons purportedly representing the Idumuje Ugboko. The M.O.U. specifically stated that operation will be under a third party company in whom will be vested all the assets and liabilities therefrom the project. That third party is Royal Golf Club Limited or Idumuje Ugboko Golf Club Limited.
- On the 1st of June, 2015, Ned Nwoko surveyed a portion of the development land which had been surveyed and mapped out into plots with beacons for allocation. That Committee claimed that they were only re-establishing our boundary with Onicha-Ugbo. These people arrogated to themselves a knowledge they do not have in their ploy to deceive the Ugboko people. The survey is in the name of Ned Nwoko’s proposed Golf Course not the community and not the Royal Golf Club Limited.
For almost a decade, Ned Nwoko arrogantly intimidated landowners as he encroached lands of Idumuje Ugboko peasant farmers, widows and especially the Owu villagers whose ancestral settlements make up the indigenous kingdom of Idumuje Ugboko.
In 2015 he began to bulldoze the lands of these peasant farmers and denied them the source of their livelihood.
Mama Osodi Oghedo, is a 92-year-old widow from Owu village. Her land and farms were one of those recently and through the years, allegedly destroyed by Ned Nwoko. At a recent sunny visit with Mama, underneath a rooted tree on her farmland, she bravely and brazenly stated her experience before Ned Nwoko’s foot soldiers who have been intimidating her and other widows resisting Ned Nwoko’s encroachments on their farmlands: “Our rich son of this land, Ned Nwoko has soiled and desecrated our homeland. Ned has forcefully taken our ancestral lands from us.
Ned Nwoko brought armed Policemen to destroy our farmlands, barricaded us from the entrances of our farms, and rooted our crops as he fenced our farms from us. We can no longer enter our ancestral farmlands to farm because Ned Nwoko has seized them. Our rubber, cassava, Agbonor, Palm tree plantations have been destroyed by this one-man brutal billionaire.
He has turned against his people and the Idumu Uje Ugboko Kingdom. We have no lands to farm, no crops to sell to sustain our rural existence. Ned Nwoko has unleashed federal might and his affluence on his people. He has locked up our sons, husbands and fathers in faraway Abuja. My dear son, Jebose, our land is plagued by Ned Nwoko’s brutality…”
(Unfinished Matter). Stick n Stay
– By Azuka Jebose