OSTRACISM: RIGHT OF REPLY: Bob Njemanze: Why I Dragged 29 Imo Monarchs To Abuja Court …Can they ostracize any one?

Report has shown that an Elder statesman and a fiery Public affairs analyst, Prince, Bob Njemanze has approached a Federal High Court in Abuja with Suit No: FCT/HC/CV/1992/2024, seeking Five Billion Naira (N5bn) as damages caused him for libel contained in an Advertorial entitled ‘Ostracism:Re-Bob Njemanze’ signed by 29 Traditional rulers in Imo state and published on page 7 of the Statesman Newspaper of March 6, 2024 Edition.
In the Newspaper publication, the 29 Traditional rulers had placed a Public Notice which was subsequently aired in the government owned electronic media house as they pronounced Prince Bob Njemanze ostracized.
The alleged reasons for ostracizing the Owerri- born Prince in their Publication gave the impression that they (the Traditional rulers) are not worthy to be the ‘Chief Security officers’ of their various communities and also that he referred to them as “Rank and file”.
These claims appear not to be in tandem with what Prince Bob Njemanze boldly said at the Imo stakeholders’ meeting with the Inspector-General of Police,IGP Egbetekun
At the meeting, Prince Bob Njemanze would not want the Traditional rulers to go with the impression which one of them gave that they are the “Chief security” officers of their autonomous communities.
To Prince Bob Njemanze, such impression that they are the chief security officers of their various communities could keep the police redundant and that since by the constitution, the state Governors are the Chief security officers of their states, who could therefore divulge power to the Local Government chairmen, and not to the Traditional rulers. The Local Government chairmen would usually chair the security meetings in their Local Government Areas in which the Divisional Police officers and the Traditional rulers would be in attendance.
A demand for retraction in which they alleged a reference to ‘rank and file’ was rebuffed by Prince Bob Njemanze, who on principle stood his grounds, informed the decision of the Traditional rulers to take out a Full page Advertorial in the said newspaper which was trailed with several broadcasts in English and Igbo languages, ostracizing him even to an extent of questioning his paternity.
When the Traditional rulers received a letter from his Lawyer demanding their apology and retraction, their Lawyer instead of acting as demanded, responded to his lawyer,maintaining their stand and even included many more strange statements that were never said. Their lawyer even wrote that the fore bearers of the Prince of Njemanze dynasty are slave merchants and that he devolved from the family of a notorious slave merchant.
In my last Article, the question as whether some of our Traditional rulers are evoking the abolished Osu caste system arose following the pronouncement of Prince Bob, Njemanze as ostracized.
The Osu caste system can be defined as “a traditional practice in Igbo land, characterized by social segregation and restrictions on interactions and marriages with a group of individuals known as Osu” (out caste).
The Osu distinction is reported to be subjected to ‘ostracism’ that is exclusion from a community or society.
They are reported to be marginalized, often perceived as inferior and segregated from diala or nwa diala in Igbo parlance.
History has it that the cultural menace was wiped out by Dr. Azikiwe of the blessed memory who in an address to the defund Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly in 1956, described Osu caste system as devilish and uncharitable to brand any human being uncharitable label of inferiority due to accident of history. Also during the administration of Chief Sam Mbakwe (now late) as the governor of old Imo state which are the present (Imo, Abia and Ebonyi states) he banned the Osu caste system.
In October, 2018, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe had taken a stance to abolish the Osu caste system in Igbo land. It was around that period that a similar move was made in Oguta in Imo to abolish Osu caste system.
Sometime in December 28, 2018 during a ceremony held in Nri, the acclaimed ancestral home of the Igbo Nation in Aniocha local GovernmentArea, Anambra state which had the title “Nigeria Osu caste system in Igbo land ends today” they abolished it.
Furthermore, in December 26, 2019 in Abba Nwangele Local Government Area, Imo State, Prince Bob Njemanze was the guest speaker alongside the likes of Rev. fr. Wence Madu, Sir Adoplph Ekejiuba whose presentations would ever remain memorable. He would maintain his ground that ‘Osu’ should be permanently abolished and that everyone is born free and equal with others and as such none can be seen or treated as ‘Osu’. The event had personalities and a mammoth crowd, not only from Abba but from all parts of Imo and beyond. Arch bishop (Emeritus) Obinna is also famous with the fight against Osu caste system.
In April 7th, 2021, another abolition ceremony in Nsukka trailed the Nri and Onitsha events where over 100 villages in Nine(9) autonomous communities pronounced the eradication of the Osu caste system in their communities.
Several reports have pointed to the fact that Prince Bob, Njemanze has continued to propagate the abolition of Osu caste system through Radio programmes and other means.
It is surprising therefore, that Bob Njemanze, a Prince from the old royal dynasty in Igbo land, and an elder statesman, who for years has been in the fore front against the devilish act should through a public notice made in government newspaper directly signed by 29 Traditional rulers declaring him ‘ostracized’.

They are as follows:
HRM EZE Dr. E.C. Okeke, HRM Eze Dr. Thomas A. Obiefule
HRM Eze Prof. Dele Odigbo, HRM Eze Dr. I.I. Okoligwe Jp
HRM Eze A.C. Obi , HRM Eze P. Uzodinma
HRM Eze Sampson Okwudinma, HRM Eze Boniface Ononenyi
HRM Eze Franklin Okafor, Jp, HRH Eze Joel Udenkwo, Jp
HRM Eze A. Onyeka , HRM Eze B.C. Osuala
HRM Eze P. Ewuzie , HRM Eze K.N Kanu
HRM Eze C.N. Eze , HRM Eze Acho Ndukwe Iheanacho
HRM Eze Patrick Uwalaka , HRM Eze Rev. Jude Uwalaka
HRM Eze Engr. Chris Aguba , HRM Eze Daniel Emeronye
HRM Eze Dr. Lucky Okoro , HRM Eze Jude Nwaogu
HRM Eze Possible , HRM Eze Engr. Fred Nwachukwu
HRM Eze Peter Njoku , HRM Eze O.B. Nwokocha
HRM Eze Sabinus Nwaneche and HRM Eze MJD Nwaturuocha.
Prince Bob Njemanze, I would say always, did not kill anyone. He did not steal anybody’s property.He did not encroach into any one’s piece of land.
Only that he expressed his views at the stakeholders’ meeting with the Inspector-General of Police in Owerri that most of the Traditional rulers are not stationed in their various communities and are not the chief security officers of their communities.That the Imo council of Traditional rulers have the structure of rank and file as the police.
‘Rank and file’, going by its meaning, is not negative as it involves any system that has both the leadership and membership.
Will there be any gain directly or indirectly evoking the archaic term of ostracism/Osu caste system that have long been abolished by the law or will it bring unity and progress?
What role will the word ‘ostracism’ play again in a state whose communities have joined others in abolishing the Osu caste system?
Imo deserves peace and unity enshrined in the wisdom of God and as I would maintain, that issues of the past should be made to exit with the past to give room for progress.

Chinedu Max Egere
WrIte from Owerri.

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