By High Chief Barr. Willie Amadi.

I grew up in Owerri Nchi-Ise to see every Owere man or woman as a brother or sister. This was in the early sixties. My schoolmates at Township School Owerri were practically family members as we ate at each other mother’s kitchen after school. We had few non- indigenes living in Owerri. We were bonded to each other with great love and affection. We were the pride and envy of visitors and residents in Owerri who even wished, they hailed from Owerri and always happily elated whenever called Owere Nchi- ishii. They worshiped and adored us and were even afraid to ask for our daughters’ hand in marriage since they considered such an ambitious and rare privilege. The few who had the courage to attempt were grateful when they succeeded.

The icing on the cake of our history was when Owerri became the capital of the old Imo State comprising of Imo and Abia States. Owerri became the cynosure of all eyes and a home for all. Our Abia brothers and sisters lived in peace and harmony with Owere indigenes. The Aladinma, Prefab and Federal Housing Estates accommodated and blessed their endeavours. Their children fused into Owerri Nchi-Ise as brothers and sisters and became Owerri Nchi-Ishii by association and fraternity. They spoke Owere dialect easily with pride. Owerri was a garden of Love. Eateries with mouth-watering cuisines and local delicacies dotted every corner of our Owerri. The evenings provided love sessions of different orientation, merriments and relaxation. Love and peace reigned unabated particularly before and slightly after the civil war between 1970 and 80s. Owerri in actual fact Wu Oke Mba daaa !!!

An independent, detailed and painstaking research  of the underlisted literary works deposited at the National Archives Enugu  on the history of Owerri and other olden towns in the Eastern Igbo Hinterland provided greater information and different narratives in the argument of whether the Njemanzes produced the first Eze Owerri before 1902, when the British arrived and settled in Owerri. Secondly, I attempted to interrogate whether the existence of Njemanze Ihenacho created a dynasty therein, and if it did, whether the other villages had any right to later decide to become autonomous thereafter.

Based on my research and interactions from the different divide, I could safely infer that since the Njemanzes after the days of Ihenacho Njemanze, a warrant chief who metamorphosed into an Eze had produced in quick succession, all the Ezes that ruled Owerri before Okorocha’s balkanisation which spanned over 117 years, a dynasty was by that convention created before the death of HRM Eze Pharmacist Emmanuel Emenyonu Njemanzes OZURUIGBO V of Owerri, since equity does not protect the indolent.

However and in any event, such creation may not have equally vitiated the rights of the other component villages to demand for autonomy particularly when the dynasty created by effluxion of time and wit did not create an ensuing Monarchy. This is because while a dynasty can be so created, it lacks the originality of a Monarchy. A monarchy is hereditary, inborn and indivisible. It is referred in a local parlance “follow come”.  However, notwithstanding the monarchical nature of  its rulership, originality and indissolubility, it can also be terminated by operation of law for reasons based on social, economic and political considerations similar to the cases of Abubakar Rimi and recently Ganduje as Governors of Kano State who balkanised the age- long and time honoured Kano Emirate under the Sanusi  monarchical dynasty.

It suffices therefore, that even though a Monarchy creates a natural, traditional and legal lien on the ruled, both the monarchy and dynasty so created by time and circumstances can be reviewed, reversed or estopped through a revolt and operation of the law as witnessed under the Okorocha administration for the overall interest of the majority of seceding component villages. For a holistic understanding of my narratives I specifically refer you to the underlisted articles namely;

1. Afigbo, Adiele (1972), The Warrant Chiefs, Longman, London.
2. J.U.J. Asiegbu (1984), Nigeria and its British Invaders, 1851-1920, Nok, Enugu.
3. Ekechi, F.K. (1972), Missionary Enterprise and Rivalry in Igboland 1857-1914, London
4. Basden, G.T. (1938), Niger Ibos, Seeley Service, Longon.
Anene, J.C. (1966),
P Southern Nigeria in Transition, Cambridge, London.
5. Tom-James, A.N. (1989), The Transformation of Owere, 1902-1989: Changing Fortunes in Time Perspective – Unpublished.
6. Emenako, G.E. (1980), “Oru Owere”
7. Njemanze, G.K. (1978), “Role Conflict in Traditional and Modern Local Government in Owerri Nchi-Ise Community” Unpublished.
PERHAM, M. (1937), Native Administration in Nigeria, Heineman, London which contained a picture of the young daughter of Chief Njemanze Ihenacho, Ms Salome Njemanze who later became Mrs. Momoh, as well as a brief historical account of Chief Njemanze Ihenacho as the first Eze Owerri.

Interestingly in the early beginning, Owerri Nchi- Ise was a city walled together with wood and mud and tightly secured. We were children of one father called Ekwemarugo who hailed from Uratta in the present Owerri North Local government area even though we had different mothers except Umuororonjo and Amawom villages who had the same mother called Ikenegbu, hence they are also referred as Umu Ikenegbu Nchi- Abuo. All the children from all the nchis celebrated Oru- Owere together. We had one Nde Oha, one Age grade system, one Onye Ishiala Owere and one Ndom Owere as well as one Nde Mgboto popularly called Azuanuka. We were one, and will remain indivisible till eternity.

Our five villages of Umuororonjo, Amawom, Umuonyeche, Umuodu and Umuoyima had existing village heads with Njemanze Ihenacho as a warrant chief who wielded much powers like his father, a powerful slave trader through Port-Harcourt waterfront. The British on arrival was aware of the slave dealer and name recognition which prompted them to appoint the handsome looking Ihenacho a Warrant Chief through whom they administered the various villages from 1902. Njemanze Ihenacho being literate and an intermediary between the white men and the natives, naturally assumed the role of the Eze henceforth. Njemanze Ihenacho was however not a Paramount ruler but an Eze and through him, later successions of other Njemanzes who ruled Owerri, a dynasty was exploited and created as would any other family who had such opportunity do so do same.

The Colonial masters loved Owere people due to their hospitality and cleanliness and decided to settle in Owere which they anglicised “Owerri” from where they administered the rest of the Igbo hinterland. They introduced the concept of Warrant Chiefs and used them for administrative purposes including tax collections.

However, in 1959, Dr Michael Okpara as the Premier of the Eastern Nigeria through the Eastern parliament passed the Laws of Eastern Nigeria in 1963. Chapter 21, volume 1 of the law recognised 8 distinct towns that were ruled by Paramount Rulers in Eastern Nigeria namely, Nembe, Oguta, Calabar, Kalabari, Arochukwu, Bonny, Onitsha and Opobo. Owerri was not part of it and never had a paramount ruler but rather a warrant chief who transmuted to an Eze during the colonial era, and in this case, Njemanze.

In 1981, the Mbakwe administration through Imo State House of Assembly enacted the Traditional Rulers and Autonomous Communities Law No. 11 which amended the Recognition of Chiefs Instrument Law No. 13 of 1978 and specifically provided for the Rotation of Ezeship in all Autonomous Communities of Imo State, Owerri Local government inclusive. Umuororonjo Village was to start with the rotation after the incumbent Eze Alexious Njemanze of Amawom, OZURUIGBO IV. Umuororonjo Village being the eldest village was positioned by the law and agreement to produce the next Eze OZURUIGBO V of Owerri after the passage of Alexious Njemanze from Amawom Village, OZURUIGBO IV of Owerri and they did.

The Mbakwe administration in their wisdom saw the need to maintain and promote the bond and hegemony of Nde Owerri to live together as brothers and sisters with only one Owerri Autonomous Community under a ROTATIONAL EZESHIP ARRANGEMENT AMONG THE FIVE VILLAGES RATHER THAN  CREATING FIVE DIFFERENT AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES as presently constituted.

Unfortunately, the 1978 and 1981 Laws were flagrantly violated by our brothers from Amawom village led by our brother Bob Kay Njemanze who understandably, conspired with the Enwerem administration and manoeuvred the spirit and intentions of the law which was generally accepted as a seamless legal transitional arrangement as provided by the 1979 and 1981 Laws and in their hubris lured Enwerem to present the staff of office to late HRM Eze Emmanuel Emenyonu Njemanze as OZURUIGBO V of Owerri at Ugwu Ekwema after his coronation at Ibari Njemanze where previous Ezes were honourably and traditionally crowned. This act of using the Governor’s presence was a move to forestall the raging resistance and disruption of the coronation by Owere people. The OZURUIGBO V was therefore illegally foisted on the people in order to protect or prolong the long held controversial dynasty. This imposition was considered mischievous, a flagrant and disrespectful breach of the consensual agreement reached before the death of Eze Alexious Njemanze on the rotation of Ezeship in Owerri Autonomous Community. This immediately provoked renewed and instant resistance by the other villages of Umuororonjo, Umuodu, Umuonyeche and Umuoyima villages who took up arms against the reign of Eze Emmanuel Njemanze as OZURUIGBO V. They never for one day recognised HRM Eze Emmanuel Emenyonu Njemanze as OZURUIGBO V till his death.

Throughout the period of his reign the villages approached the courts and the Imo House of Assembly until when luck smiled on them when the Rochas Administration for reasons obviously different from the Mbakwe administration rightly or wrongly balkanised the Kingdom and created five Autonomous Communities out of it and presented staffs of office to them. It should be placed on record that Rochas administration facilitated the grant of autonomy out of both mischief and vendetta arising from the refusal of OZURUIGBO V to receive him in his palace for consultation during Governor Okorocha’s campaign for the 2011 governorship election following the directives of the incumbent administration and Council of Traditional Rulers. I was privy to the events of that day when OZURUIGBO abandoned Okorocha at his palace and spent the whole day at my AJUZIEOGU LODGE residence until Rochas left in anger threatening to dethrone him in the event he became Governor. A threat he kept. Our late brother and his Traditional Prime Minister, late Chief Paul Nnawuchi, Owe of Owere drove His Majesty to and fro AJUZIEOGU LODGE on that fateful morning. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace, Amen.

This was the crises situation the Mbakwe Administration through the 1981 Law tried to prevent but fortunately or unfortunately this is where we are today due to greed and unnecessary superiority complex by supposedly family members who resisted rotational Ezeship among themselves. This is the Ngbàdà story.


The assumed “Dynasty” by the Njemanzes having been balkanised and dismembered by the creation of the five Autonomous Communities today, represents the literary giant’s CHINUA Achebe’s Arrow of God and Things Fall apart”.  The defending champions or fallen heroes are now in the law courts defending and or challenging both the dynasty, the process and legitimacy of the creation of the Autonomous Communities and matters arising therewith.
Meanwhile, the traditional institutions as enumerated earlier above have moved on as if nothing happened, celebrating and performing all their cultural and traditional roles for the Indigenous People of Owerri going forward while going back to their trenches after each celebration.

Providentially and curiously today, the Njemanzes are at war with themselves. A    case of a kingdom divided against itself. And since no kingdom  lasts forever, it appears to be Nunc dimittis for the  divided Kingdom but only time will tell.


I see an Owerri that may witness a full  blown Autonomy if the Supreme Court in future decides that the 1978 & 1981 Laws which created Autonomous Communities and established rotational Ezeship among all Autonomous Communities in Imo State and more particularly among the five villages of Owerri Municipality was violated or, secondly, that the subsequent creation of the five Autonomous Communities out of Owere Nchi- Ise by the State government was legal, and thirdly, that the process of selection of the traditional rulers of the five autonomous communities were legal and in sync with the extant laws. The concomitant legal effect of their decision will therefore leave the struggle for an Njemanze dynasty of Owerri Nchi-Ise an important part of the history of Owere people for our generations to come. The privilege, albeit the assumed Dynasty of the Njemanzes would have been brought to a historical finality.

However, if on the other hand, the Supreme Court decides to the contrary, the Dynasty would have been rightly or wrongly resurrected and it’s acceptance or non-acceptance by the five autonomous communities will also be enforced by the operation of law which had hitherto upheld the life and pendency of the five autonomous communities too.

Either way Owerri will move on again, as if, nothing has happened.



Ashi la abörö Ngbàdà,  nma agba gburu ya, olu anahu ihiri la ya !!!

So Umunne, let us  prepare and bear in mind that whatever decision the Supreme Court presents to Nde Owere in future, WE will ALWAYS live together, protect our traditional institutions and culture, and also continue to LOVE one another as one people and under one destiny as umu Ekwemarugo !!!

Ashim azù tōkwara nnú útò á rii ooh !
Ashim udo chegide kwa nnü ooh !!

Affectionately yours,

High Chief Willie Amadi
Chief Technical Adviser to the Government on Environment.

… holds a 2005 chieftaincy title from the Njemanze Dynasty as UKWA ACHIAKA Owere.

… and also a 2020 High Chieftaincy title from the five autonomous communities of Owerri Municipality as the OMEUDO Owere.

Owerri, Saturday 5th August 2023.