Okrika LGA, Rivers State

REJOINDER: Terminology Involving Okrika, Kirike and Wakirike

It was with great pleasure that I read the remarks of Chief, Ambassador Spiff M. K. Taribo-Amgbara, JP, at the occasion of the First Okrika Arts and Books Festival that held at Ogoloma, on Saturday, November 17, 2018. My interest was heightened when the good Chief Taribo-Amgbara, JP stated “Let us start, at this forum, by visiting the issue of terminology involving Okrika, Kirike and Wakirike”. The distinguished Chief went further to state, “we do so in our privileged capacity of being the intelligentsias of our beloved community and deemed to be devoid of inner blindness and myopic bias”.

Based on the choice of words used by Chief Taribo-Amgbara which include but is not limited to intelligentsias, devoid of inner blindness and myopic bias, we decided to test his assertions by carrying out my own independent research to corroborate or refute his assertions and conclusions, and my findings contradict the assertions and propagations of the respected Chief.

ISSUE NO 1: Chief Taribo-Amgbara quoted Simon Koromoweri Owonnaro’s book “The History of Ijo (Ijaw) and Her Neighbouring Tribes in Nigeria” (1949), and made it look like the earliest highest reference record/authority on the history of the founding of Kirike (Okrika) when he said “the author (Owonaro) was not a native of Wakirike; his book was published at a time when there was no inkling of controversy over succession to the Okrika throne that gave birth to the Uwechua (1959) and Graham (1962) commissions of inquiry on Okrika”. However, in the course of my research, we discovered that our dear Chief, Ambassedor Taribo-Amgbara, a member of Wakirike intelligentsia that claimed to be devoid of inner blindness and myopic bias was himself been economical with the facts he presented. This is so because the J. C. Porter’s Okrika Clan intelligence investigation of 1932 and whose report was released in 1933, where the Oputibeya story was presented, clearly contradicts the Chief Taribo-Amgbara remarks on Oputibeya founding Okrika as claimed by Owonaro in his 1949 book. It is important to state here that Porter’s intelligence report is a government intelligence report that is superior to the 1949 Owonaro book, and came earlier in time. Hence we are still at a loss as to why Chief Taribo-Amgbara chose to project the 1949 book and make it look like this issue had never been brought to the public domain before 1949. Perhaps, the Chief was being biased because he was avoiding a situation where researchers will stumble on the Kirike peoples own version of their story on the founding of Kirike (Okrika).

By our research findings the 1933 Porter’s report at page 10, paragraph 4, item number 27, and running into page 11 states that: “The account of the migration of OGULAYA was confirmed at NEMBE (in the BRASS area) but it was added that amongst OGULAYA’S followers was one KIRIKE who settled with OPUTIBEYA at OKRIKA and so gave his name to that village (OKRIKA). This is also the opinion of certain OKRIKANS in so far as it accounts for the origin of the name of the village although they differ as to the origin of the man KIRIKE”. Continuing on page 11, Paragraph 2, item number 28 states thus: “… A FOUNDER OF OKRIKA MUST HAVE EXISTED AND IT IS MORE THAN PROBABLE THAT HIS NAME WAS AKIN TO THE NAME OKRIKA” (emphasis mine).

At this juncture, if we may ask, why did Chief Taribo-Amgbara in the dispassionate spirit of an intelligentsia expected of him not put the contents of the Oputibeya version and the Kirike version side by side, but rather drew his conclusions on the basis of the Oputibeya side of the story which is even inconsistent with the contents of the 1933 Porter’s report.

It is necessary to conclude on this subject matter that the 1933 Porter’s intelligence report must therefore command greater credibility than Owonaro’s 1949 book. (Note: J. C. Porter was a British man and not even a Nigerian). This finds support in the conclusion drawn on the issue of the founding of Kirike by Ven. B. A. Obuoforibo in his book “Groundwork of Okrika History” (2012) at page 83 where the author remarked thus: “… the argumentation for the historicity of Kirike and his being first settler of the land which bears his name is a mathematical certainty fully attested by historical evidence.”

Furthermore, if we may ask, will it not be antithetical and hypocritical for an intelligentsia like our respected Chief Taribo-Amgbara to accept the eponymous narrative that Ogu was named after a man called Opu-Ogu, Ogoloma was also named after a man called Opu-Ogulaya, same for Bolo named after a man called Bolo, but only to turn around to deny in the case of Kirike (Okrika) with verified historical facts that it was named after a man called Kirike who is its founder?

ISSUE NO 2: Our respected Chief Taribo-Amgbara also stated that “Owonari credited Oko ‘who hails from a family in Amassoma’ with founding ‘Okopiri or Okochiri’ meaning in Okrika dialect ‘land of Oko’”.

On the assertion above, we had tried very hard to go through the 1933 Porter’s report to look for the name ‘Okopiri or Okochiri’ but could not find it mentioned in the report. Also, in my curiosity to find some earlier literature on ‘Okopiri or Okochiri’ we stumbled on the Okrika 101 communities map titled “land awarded to OKRIKA people in the intertribal boundary settlement No. 2/1944” that forms the basis of the Supreme court judgment of 1958 on all land related issues between the Okrikans (spanning from Okujagu Ama in Kirike to Ele and Ogu in Ogu/Bolo LGA.) and their Eleme neighbours.

Surprisingly, we have not been able to find ‘Okopiri or Okochiri’ on the Okrika 101 map and so we could not continue with my research in that direction. Maybe I am not using the correct map hence we will want to appeal to the Wakirike intelligentsia to provide me with the correct map so as to make progress in that direction.

ISSUE NO 3: The distinguished Ambassador Taribo-Amgbara also posited that “it is indeed surprising that even the idea of RENAISANCE restricts its mental focus to Okrika instead of enlarging it to cover Wakirike”.

We find it difficult to understand why our respected ambassador is trying to distinguish between Okrika and Wakirike at this point when he actually started in his remark by saying “let us start at this forum by revisiting the issue of terminology involving Okrika, Kirike and Wakirike”, but surprisingly refrained from delving into. However, it is our opinion that RENAISANCE did nothing wrong in using the word Okrika to describe all of us. Besides, the people of Ogu are still using the 101 OKRIKA map and its Supreme Court judgment to lay claim to the lands in that area, so why should anybody feel surprised or disappointed over it? Are the terms Okrika, Kirike-Be-Se and Wakirike-Be-Se not one and the same thing? The ambassador ought to know as one of the intelligentsia of Okrika (Wakirike) that the terms “Kirike”, “Okrika” and “Wakirike” refer to the generic etymology for the Okrika nation which includes the respected Chief’s Ogu Town and that attempt to distinguish them is only an exercise in semantics. For, from time to which my relatively nascent memory can stretch, our fathers have always emphasized to us the centrifugal force of unity that binds us together as one ethnic nation and people as expressed in our generic name variously known as Kirike Bese and Wakirike Bese which are Anglicized Okrika, names which evoke in us a sense of oneness as an ethnic nation irrespective of the sentiments that tend to divide us, the same sentiments we were enjoined to de-emphasise but which the elderly chief who should be an exemplary light to our younger generation, appears to be promoting.

ISSUE NO 4: Ambassador Taribo-Amgbara also stated “… Wakirike in the face of the following realities: (a) Tubonju-Kirike as a Kingdom with a Second Class Stool; (b) Koniju-Kirike as a Kingdom with a Second Class Stool …”.

We find it difficult to comprehend what may have motivated the respected Chief to make these inaccurate assertions, single-handedly creating kingdoms unknown to the existing Koniju Town court judgment and official government instruments recognizing Kirike Kingdom except that it appears to be a wilful mischief. We are concerned because Chief Taribo-Amgbara as an intelligentsia ought to be aware of the existence of the book entitled “THE ODYSSEY OF A NIGER DELTA LEADER: HON. CHIEF S. I. ADOKI, MHC 1869 -1968”, written by Venerable (Dr.) B. A. Obuoforibo (JP), who is an illustrious son of Ogu. The said book was commissioned, sponsored and foreworded by Chief Sir Nemi Wisdom Adoki (JP) who is a direct biological son of Chief Samson Igobo Adoki, furnished with relevant dossiers and first-hand Information/Records from Chief Samsom Igobo Adoki’s children namely, elder Tobin Adoki (first son), Elder Dennis Adoki and Chief Nemi Wisdom Adoki. It is important to state here that it was during the days of Chief Samsom Igobo Adoki as Chairman Okrika Clan Council of Chiefs that the inaugural Koniju Council of Chiefs was formed in 1959.

Consequently, page 52 of the book sponsored by Chief Nemi W. Adoki on his beloved father’s author-biography states that “the (Okrika) Council of Chiefs unanimously accepted the Ado Crown Prince Zedikiah D. T. Fibika as Amanyanabo-Elect on January 5, 1959. There was yet another significant event that featured at this same meeting of the (Okrika) Council of Chiefs. The (Okrika) Clan Council of Chiefs received a letter of resignation from the newly formed ‘Koniju’ Council of Chiefs signed by Chief Sampson I. Adoki and 16 other Chiefs. Also on the same day, Chief Gabriel Oputibeya was proclaimed Amanyanabo of Okrika by Chief Adoki and his (Koniju) supporters”. At page 53 the prolific chronicler further stated that “indeed, the inauguration of a pseudo – (Koniju) Council of Chiefs to rival the age-old Okrika Clan Council of Chiefs has since been the bed-rock of disunity of Okrika Clan. It has since succeeded to spread its drag-net and caused many members of the Clan to stumble and constitute themselves as enemies of the status quo indoctrinating people with ungodly doctrine of balkanization and particularism in the Clan”.

Earlier, at page 49 the author had stated emphatically that “the personal ambition of Chief (Samson I. Adoki) to be a paramount Chief (in Okrika) could not be easily assimilated in a society (Okrika) that had been monarchical for over four centuries (under the Ados), he was bent on enthroning a new political system alien to Okrika ethnic Nationality”. As a follow up statement, the last paragraph of page 49 which continued to page 50 states that “indeed, when his (Samson I. Adoki’s) new found alien political ideology of republicanism for a quasi-monarchical system wherein there would be no monarch and yet the existence of chieftaincy institution with him (Samson I. Adoki) as Paramount Chief, could not be condoned, he indoctrinated the Oputibeya family to jettison their desire to be a royal estate. The result was the creation of Oputibeya War Canoe House, which has been one of the constituent families of Odo_Abaji House of Awolome Biri. Gabriel Igwa was thus installed as the inaugural (very first) Chief of Oputibeya House on July 7, 1933. With that was the accentuation of the Koniju factionalism”.

From the above quotations from the Ven. Dr. B. A. Obuoforibo, it is obvious that Koniju as a distinct town from Kirike (Okrika) emerged sometime in 1933 and was consummated in 1985 when they went to court in suit No. PHC/345/85 wherein they specifically asked the court for “a declaration that KONIJU is a distinct town in Rivers State”, to which in 1995 the high court gave a nod in a judgment stating “that Koniju is a distinct town in Okrika (as in Local Government) in Rivers State (State) of Nigeria (Country)” (words in bracket added for ease of understanding). It is imperative to add here that in the said case, at no time and no where did the Koniju people state that they wished to be addressed or known as “Koniju-Kirike” as is being peddled by Chief Taribo-Amgbara. The court granted them what they unequivocally and emphatically asked for, which is, “KONIJU TOWN”. It is too late in the day for them to shuffle backwards in view of the subsisting judgment in their hands, which is sealed and time-barred for appeal. And it is too late for Chief Tarib-Amgbara to grant, bestow or confer on them a name, appellation or kingdom they do not legitimately have or he does not have the power to give except he is usurping the powers of the state’s executive, legislative or judicial powers.

It is also worthy of note to state here that the good people of Koniju Town, in full compliance with their court judgment, recently installed HRM King Nelson Oputibeya as the Amanyanabo of KONIJU TOWN and not Koniju-Kirike as Chief Taribo-Amgbara is attempting to indoctrinate people with ungodly doctrine (just to borrow the words of Ven. (Dr.) B. A. Obuoforibo). For clarity sake, we wish to mention here that Ogu/Bolo used to be a part of Okrika Local Government Area (LGA) until 1996 when they demanded for and got their own LGA known as Ogu/Bolo LGA and not Ogu/Bolo-Okrika LGA, eventhough they are still part of Okrika ethnic nationality (Kirike Bese or Wakirike Bese) as distinguishable from Kirike Kingdom (Kirike Se). In the same vein, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, etc demanded for and got their own States from Rivers and Cross River States respectively and they are not known as Bayelsa-Rivers State and Akwa Ibom – Cross River State. Consequently, since the good people of Koniju Town demanded for and got a valid court judgment which unambiguously declared them as Koniju town, our dear Chief, in my opinion is completely wrong and his position absolutely baseless to add “Kirike” to their name when their judgment states that they are a distinct town from Kirike town. This is trite law.

On the other hand, it is common knowledge to the entire intelligentsia that Kirike was and is still the name of the town that Koniju town was carved out from and the Koniju judgment did not make any pronouncement or declaration that alters the name Kirike in any way; neither is there any judgment that changed the Kirike peoples name to Tubonju-Kirike. It is a fact that the people of Kirike have installed HRM King (Air Commodore) T. E. O. Ogube as Amanyanabo of Kirike and the Rivers State government via its official gazette No. 12, volume 54, dated 5th of April, 2018, has recognized King Ogube on pages B5 and B6 as the Amayanabo of Kirike. Therefore, it smacks of willful distortion, misinformation and disinformation for anybody or group of persons, no matter how highly placed to constitute themselves into a propaganda machine by illegally addressing the people of Kirike as Tubonju-Kirike.

In conclusion, because of time and space constraints, we are not able to address some other issues raised by our respected Chief Taribo-Amgbara in his remarks in circulation. However, we totally agree with the ambassador that the intelligentsias of our beloved community should be devoid of inner blindness and myopic bias when presenting sensitive issues of Wakirike nationality in public because the younger generations of intelligentsia are looking to learn from the older generation.

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