The fate of Crown Prince of Idumuje-Ugboko community in Aniocha North Local Government area of Delta State, Nonso Nwoko, ascending the throne of his late father, Albert Nwoko, now hangs in the balance.
Nonso, who is traditionally the successor of his father, who joined his ancestors, recently, has some criminal allegations against him before the nation’s police and courts.
The palace itself, which still mourns the demise of the late Obi, is currently enmeshed in rape scandal involving a 15-year-old daughter of the late monarch.
Few days after the incident, the palace was said to have withdrawn the victim from her school in Ebonyi State and enrolled in a school in the community to the dismay of some people in the palace, including her mother who was allegedly threatened to keep the matter secret.
Sensing possibility of betrayal among those in the know of the rape, sources in the palace told this newspaper that the palace was furious at the crime and meted out punishment on the culprit, who till now has not been made public by the palace. Surprisingly, the incident and accompanying actions were not known to the monarch who was then still alive.
From documents on Nonso’s alleged misdeeds, made available to this newspaper, it took the efforts of a concerned indigene in community who took the matter to the police before legitimate investigations began into the scandal.
Checks revealed that Nonso has kept himself incommunicado, running away from the police and courts where he has repeatedly failed to honour invitations. Efforts by our correspondent to contact him to respond to allegations against him were also unsuccessful as he could not be reached via his known phone numbers.
The police have fingered Nonso in a forged letter that nullified an agreement signed by his father with a consortium (LINAS and Partners) which requested for land to set up a sports university in the community.
In 2015, LINAS made an application for the community to obtain 90 hectares of land, in addition to its 33 hectares it already had, for the purpose of building the university. This was to meet the National Universities Commission (NUC) requirement for a minimum of 100 hectares land space for setting up of a university.
Based on the LINAS and partners application, an Izu-Ani (general meeting of the community) was convened, where it was agreed that the Idumuje-Ugboko community would own 40 percent equity while 60 percent would be retained by LINAS and partners. Consequently, after the preparation of a memorandum of understanding of the minutes of the Izu-Ani meeting, a letter dated 10th April 2015 and signed by Obi Nwoko, approved the proposal.
Shockingly thereafter, another letter dated 12th August 2015, originated from the palace, and purported to have been authored by Obi Nwoko disclaiming the first letter of consent, which was dated 10th April 2015, emerged.
A disgruntled member of the community, who pleaded anonymity, petitioned the state Commissioner of Police to investigate the authenticity of the latest letter. The petition was dated 16th September 2015. Investigations further revealed that the police carried out thorough investigations between September 2015 and February 2016 and came up with a report indicting Nonso and three others of forgery.
It was also gathered that the then police commissioner, Usman Alkali, directed that the case file of the petition be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), State Ministry of Justice, Asaba, for advice. It was further gathered that the DPP also upheld the indictment of Prince Justin Nwoko and three others and advised that they be charged to court which was accordingly adhered to, and they were arraigned.
Nonso is alleged to have absented himself from the criminal proceedings on 9th February 2017 and 14th February 2017 respectively. Not impressed, the trial Chief Magistrate Dike of Chief Magistrate Court 1, Ibusa road, Asaba, issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
Indigenes, especially chieftains of the community were said to have become worried when Nonso left Lagos State, where he had been living, for Asaba, and had frequented the palace against tradition.
As in the Benin Kingdom where Idumuje-Ugboko derives its kingship heritage, a crown prince must not see his father while he lives. But, Nonso was accused by chiefs in the community for ignoring such tradition and frequented the palace at will.
Sources in the community, who pleaded not to be named, told this newspaper that he did not stop at that. The prince, they claimed, had at different times stopped meetings already scheduled by the community. Reports indicate that in March 2015, a meeting of Izu-Ani (general meeting of the community) was summoned by the palace, but they received the shocker of their lives when they arrived the venue only for the Crown Prince to tell the astounded gathering that the meeting had been suspended. “There were spontaneous protests and arguments that dovetailed towards upholding the tradition which had it that since the Obi was still alive, it was not the duty of the Crown Prince to make such pronouncements. That signalled the genesis of the looming crisis,” one of the sources claimed.
Effort to reach Nonso has proved abortive. All his known phone numbers were switched off for two seven days that our correspondent waited for his response while filing this story.