Urhobo Historical Society



FILE NO. C.S.O. 26/26770

 

OLOMU CLAN, WARRI DIVISION

 

 

WRITTEN BY

 

LT. COMMANDER, S. E. JOHNSON  - A.D.O.

 

 

OLOMU CLAN -  JULY 1931

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

This report is an assessment report confined to the intelligence aspect of the Olomu Clan of the Sobo Sub-Tribe of the Edo tribe. The clan area is situated to the South-West of Warri and about 13 miles from its centre to Warri as the crow flies. Although, the ancient history section would seem to give the clan an Ibo origin, yet it is thought that the clan in common with the remainder of the Sobo Tribe is of Bini origin and that the “Igbo” mentioned as being the habitat of their common ancestor was a Bini settlement to the Eastward of Benin.

 

In the main aspect of their social organisation, laws and customs, the clan follows closely those common to other Sobo clans, thus strengthening the theory of their Bini origin. The clan claims no kingship with any other clan except by marriage ties with the Kiagbodo village group of the main clan of the Western Ijo Sub-Tribe whose territory bounds Olomu clan to the Westward.

The paucity of ancient history is regretted. The clan evidently thrives on the old adage “Happy is the nation that has not history”. They have had a singularly peaceful expansion and a prosperous existence.

 

In many ways, the Olomu clan is of peculiar importance. One could not take a better instance for an average Sobo clan with which to form general theories or conclusions. The area is geographically and laterally in the centre of the Sobo sub-tribal territory. It commands an excellent creek outlet in the Kiagbodo or Okpari creek. Its roads are eartheral” roads, for the Sobo area. It is both in close touch with Warri and with the remote Sobo clans, with Jekries and the Ijo. Its pulse probably foreshadows eventualities quickly than any other Sobo clan.  The clan people are of average physique, industrious and thrifty.

 

The area produces Palm produce and farming is universally practiced throughout an area which offers excellent farming land. As in other Sobo clans, the people are hidebound by unveiling Juju, and native law and custom. They have a strong sense of clan and family units but are litigious by nature regarding a court of justice in the light of a welcome relaxation from everyday duties.

Children and old people are well cared for, and the latter are treated with the veneration they deserve. There is a tendency for the younger generation to laugh at old age, but the amusement is good humoured and tolerated. The village group council is seen in the clan, to inspire a wholesome respect for culture, law and order. Clan government in such an area cannot fail to be a success.

 

No particular trouble was experienced in acquiring information for the report. The clan realized from the beginning that results would be beneficial to them and the communities were ready to help in every way. The question of the clan Headship was the only one that gave any cause for careful thought. Eleven days were spent on field work and such time as was available from June until the date of completion of this report was taken in its compilation.

 

The skeletal map was made by a compass and bicycle survey; that part of the Okpari River between Okpari and Owo was surveyed by compass and canoe.

 

The report follows the lines laid down in the general circulars “Assessment and Re-assessment” to the Heads and Sections used here are adapted from the Appendix to that circular, and where considered necessary, amplified by further information following instructions from more recent circulars or in the light of any recent event{s}.

 

GEOGRAPHY

 

 

AREA OF

DISTRICT

 

 

The Olomu Clan occupies a compact area in the South East of the Okpari River with about 13 miles direct from Warri in a South Easternly direction.

 

DENSITY OF POPULATION

 

It occupies an area of approximate total population of 7000, works out at 132 per square mile. Compared to surrounding clan, the area is fairly thinly populated. The clan consists of fifteen villages spread ending

 

throughout the area; the largest which is Oviri-Olomu with an approximate population of 1,300 and the smallest being Oforigbala with roughly 100 inhabitants. The remaining villages range in population between these figures.

 

The clan area occupies that Region lying between latitudes 50:26 and 50:33 North and Longitudes 50:53 and 60 East. It is bounded on the North-South North- West by the Okpari River; to the South-West by Kiagbodo (MEIN Clan) territory, to the South by Ewu Clan territory and to the East by Ogor and Ughelli territory. All the towns of the clans are situated within this area.

 

PHYSICAL FEATURES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATER SUPPLY, RAINFALL AND

CLIMATE

 

 

 

 

 

The main physical feature of the area is the Okpari River, which forms the Northern and North Western boundary. This river rises in Agbassal territory far to the Eastward and flows in a rough West South westernly direction until it reaches Okpari where it heads to a South Westernly direction, finally flowing into the forcados or Warri River near Gana-Gana. It is a fresh water river fed along its course by numerous small rivers, chief of which is the Kakpamre creek which joins it at Okpari.

 

The Okpari river is an important trade route and rises in the rainy season to about 14ft. The clan area is on the whole family sand land, supporting successful farming and abounding in the oil palm. The clan, in common with the surrounding clan areas is in the Delta forest Belt, and is rich in timber indigenous to that area. Swamp area to be found in various parts but they do not seriously inconvenience communities. Intra-town paths link up and every village in the town

 

with a comprehensive network, and roads run to all neighbouring clan villages. All these communities are open all the year from Okpari to Owo and is motorable, indeed, the present Owhorode of the clan has until recently ran a motor car regularly on it. In character, the clan presents much the same appearance as any land in this area – patches of thick bush and forest with clearings and farms at intervals – farming being on a five years cycle, as in the rest of the District.

 

For these villages in the clan situated on or near the Okpari river, a plentiful and fairly good water supply is assured. Villages away from that river rely on wells, which generally prove adequate. Cases occur of these wells drying up and the people sink the well further until water is reached.

 

The water leaves much to be desired; but Is much purer than that used by the Ewu clan. No chronic cases of guinea worm or of other water borne diseases were noticed. Although, of course, there must be some occasional occurrence.

 

The rainfall and the climate can be said to be the same as that which prevails at other areas where observations are regularly taken. Rainfall is heavy in the rainy season, continuing almost incessantly from June until October with a day interval of about two weeks in the middle of that period. During the rain, the atmosphere is soothing and the climate enervating; while during the dry season, dry atmosphere prevails.

 

MINERALS

 

No minerals was found or reported in this area, which is really part of the Niger Delta and therefore formed accumulated silt brought down by the River Niger.

 

 

LIST OF VILLAGES OF OLOMU CLAN, DIVIDED INTO UHURIE AND UDUMUGORO SECTIONS

 

 

ORIGINAL VILLAGES HAVING QUARTERS AT OTOROLOMI

 

[a]    UHURIE GROUP

 

*    AGBON

*    AKPERE

*    OVIRIOLOMU

*    OKPE

*    OKPAVORE

 

[b]    UDUMUGORO GROUP

*    OWOROKPOKPOR

*    UMOLO

*    OWO

*    OKPARI

 

OFFSHOOT VILLAGES FROM THE ORIGINAL VILLAGES

 

[a]    UHURIE GROUP

*    OGUNAME FROM OKPE

*    OFORI FROM OKPAVORE

 

[b]    UDUMUGORO GROUP

*    IWRE-OGONI  FROM OWO

*    OFOMANEFE  FROM OWO

*    OFOMGBALA  FROM OWO

*    ALOBA           FROM  UMOLO

 

HISTORICAL

 

ORIGIN

The Olomu clan history dates back to some four hundred years but it is scarce of incident and mainly relates to the gradual evolution from its beginning to its present state. It is stated that the founder or father of the clan was one ALAKA whose father Ijezue lived at Igban. This is a general Sobo term for the Ibo country – a part included most of the Ogwashi and Kaale Ibos.

But it is most probable that Ijezue was of Bini origin in common with origins of all other Sobo clans. The clanshan were uncertain as to which side of the river had the honour of claiming Ijezue; so the original inhabitant of the clan must remain a problem.

 

Why Alaka left his own clan/country is not known, He finally settled at Otor-Orere-Olomu, a settlement mentioned in the Ewu clan Report, and situated near Ewu. At this period, the Mein clan of Ijos was already established in its present habitat on the creek system of the Warri-Forcados River, but the Ewu clan had not as yet settled in their present home.

THE FIRST

SETTLEMENT

Tradition states that Otor-Orere-Olomu(meaning “the first place of the town – Olomu and generally called “Otorolomu” which name will be used hereafter” became friendly with the town of Kiagbodo of the Mein clan, and that Alaka himself befriended one ogoro of the latter town. It is said that Ogoro was brother to Igbele who was the “founder” of Kiagbodo and that both were grandsons of Mein himself. This would indicate that the Mein clan had not settled in their present habitat at this period. Later, Alaka gave three of his daughters to Ogoro as wives and finally Ogoro, owing to this family ties, left Kiagbodo and cast his lot with Alaka.

 

The old Otorolomu then consisted of two main quarters; that of Alaka family was known as Uhurie; that of Ogoro’s family as Umugoro’.  It is asserted that Ogoro himself accompanied his father Mein in their exodus from Ogobiri, near Amassama to the present habitat of the Mein clan. During the settlement of the first Otorolomu, a preliminary exodus took place, when some of the town people left and finally settled at Olomoro near Oleh in the present Ase sub-district.

 

THE SECOND

 SETTLEMENT

 

Now, the old Otorolomu was situated in swampy country about 2 miles South East of the present Akpere and the people became dissatisfied with the site. The whole community migrated in search of better land and finally settled at the new Otorolomu. Here again, the new settlement was divided into the same two quarters of Uhurie and Umugoro; and these in turn were sub-divided into families. A perusal of the plan of the second Otorolomu is now recommended.

 

This second settlement gradually expanded and it is computed that at the height of its prosperity, it must have covered an area of approximately one third of a square mile. The town proved to be an unhealthy spot.

 

Tradition says that the people died at a comparatively early age and this, coupled with an outbreak of smallpox that depopulated the town, finally gave rise to the third movement, this time a disintegration of the people and the settlement of various villages.

 

THE FIRST

OUTSPREAD

 

This, then, the Owo sub-quarter migrated and settled first at the spot where the village ‘Ofomaneye’ now is. This first settlement was called Oworeki. Finally, this site was abandoned and the present Owo was established. The Okpari family which occupied the same sub-quarter at Otorolomu as the Owo family also migrated and settled at Orierokpare, near Kiagbodo. Owing to continual trouble with Kiagbodo, they left this site and finally settled at Okpari.

 

Similarly, the towns of Orokpokpor, Oviri-Olomu, Akpere, Okpavore, Ukpe and Agbon settled in their present towns; although, the two latter towns scarcely moved from their old sub-quarters, both towns being but half a mile from the centre of the clan town.

 

THE SECOND

 OUTSPREAD

 

The second outspread took place at a much later date mainly owing to congestion in the settled villages. Thus, the small villages of Ofomaneye and Ofuigbalo spread from Owo. The former village was started in 1912, the later not more than seventy years ago. Ahaha village was founded from Umolo, Oguname from Okpe, Iwiegori from Owo and Ofori from Okpavore. All the villages of the clan are now accounted for.  Strictly speaking, this would seem to show a village group formation but there is no such recognized formation amongst the clan, the various villages only recognizing the clan town – Otorolomu as their centre.

 

While at the first Otorolomu, Alaka, so says legend, brought a man and a woman as a sacrifice to that place where Ewu now stands. They were not killed and the pair were the fore-runners of that Ora village which was discovered by the Ewus on their arrival at the spot. And with whom they threw in their lot.

 

From the evolution of the clan, it can be seen that the villages are roughly divided into two groups, the Uhurie and the Umugoro, according to which quarter of Otorolomu their ancestors belonged. Inter marriages has dulled this dividing line but there is still a distinction. The list of villages with the geographical section differentiates each one.

 

MILITARY HISTORY

 

With the unfolding of such military history as the clan, remembered several facts link up the histories of this with other clans. While at the first Otorolomu, a dispute arose over ownership of land with the Ewu people, newly established in that area. Gorilla-warfare resulted which developed into slave-raiding expeditions. During this period, it is related that a half Bini named Ovioro, the son of a Bini man by a daughter of Alaka, was living at Otorolomu and some of his family were killed by the Ewus. Ovioro then went to Bini and complained to the Oba who sent an “IMPI” to destroy Ewu. This is the reason given by the Olomus for the Bini massacre related in the Ewu clan history. The “IMPI” passed through Olomu country and on returning they seized many Olomu people and brought them to Bini as slaves.

 

Other clan fights are related as having been with Ughelle and Effurutor. Both these fights occurred after the second Otorolomu had been established and developed into slave raids on either side. The origin of these disputes is obscure but seems to have developed from individual or family quarrels. After the exodus from the second Otorolomu, the town of Owo fought with Effurutor and Ogor. These fights could not have occurred more than seventy years ago. The cause of the later one was over oil-palm rights. Tradition relates that Okpari while at Orierokpare killed some trading Ijos in a canoe and that the Mein came up and fought them, finally driving them from Orierokpare to their present town.

 

THE OWHORODE

 

The Olomu clan had a peculiar system of investing the richest and most influential man in the clan with the title of “Owhorode,  which literally means “Big Man”. He was regarded by the whole clan as the clan Head. He It was who summoned clan meetings and administered clan affairs. Perhaps the notion was a sound one, as with his riches and influence, the Owhorode could benefit the clan on inter-clan affairs and suitably entertains the clan at home, besides being able to keep up a household and ceremonies expected in one of his positions. The position of Owhorode was not hereditary. A glance at the clan Genealogical Tree gives the line of Owhorodes from the beginning until the present day.

 

GENEALOGICAL TREE

 

The genealogical Tree, appended to this section gives the origin of every village in the Olomu clan, and its formation shows that it is a true clan in the strict sense of the term. Here again, can be traced those villages which are of the two distinct quarters Uhurie and Umugoro.

 

 

THE ORIGIN, HISTORY AND CUSTOMS OF THE AHOMORINS

 

The Olomu clan in common with some other Sobo clans, possesses its own Ahomorin Society. Tradition relates that the Oba of Benin of that period had two sons who were fighting for the accession and that one of them, probably the loser in the fight, and named Ugbose, left Benin, finally coming to the first Otorolomu. This happened after the Benin massacre of the Ewus before mentioned; and when Alaka and Ogoro were both in the town.

 

It is said that Ugbose brought with him many articles used in Benin as Insignia for native titles.  This included an Agberen (native sword), Isogo (Native bells), Izieri (Elephant tusks) and red beads. He also carried a brass mask of the face of his late favourite wife. In gratitude for the kindly reception he received from Alaka, Ugbose then instituted a new title of Olorigun among the people. The outward sign of which was a necklace of red beads. The name Olorigun, a Bini title was later changed to the Sobo names of Owiowetse or Ahomorins and the later name now survived.

 

The procedure for becoming an Ahomorin was first to apply to the Okareworo (the Head Ahomorin), the fee for such application being a bottle of Dry Gin and Cowries to the value of seven shillings. The Okareworo then put “thread” around the initiate’s neck, as a symbol that he was entitled to wear the red beads. The initiate had to provide his own red beads. At this stage, he was merely a novice or an Ahomorin Itete (Itete-small).

 

He now had to undergo the second stage for which he is charged Igbo-Erha-gbikwe (i.e. $1.15) and one goat. The Okareworo then put the man to bed in his house and he was required to keep to his house for 14 days. At the end of that period, the Okareworo came and washed him, taking away all the bed coverage. Then, there was a dance called Okworema of Benin Origin (Oiwo-Benin):Ema dance. The new member then gave orders that the whole male of the clan be feasted at Ugbowe’s shrine at Otorolomu. After giving an offering of 200 yams, 24 Ekar(smoked fish) and Igbo Iwre ($3.10) to the Ahomorin, the new member was a full-fledged Ahomorin. The fees that he paid accrued to the Ahomorin.

 

At the present time, there are only two Ahomorin in the clan who have gone through all the stages, including the Okareworo himself and 65 Ahomorins Itete. The present Okareworo, Ikogo by name, who lives at Ukpe, has his own shrine where, among tusks and various regalies belonging to the founders of that town is a replica in brass (so it is asserted) of that death mask carried by Ugbose. It hangs on the back way of the shrine. Ugbose’s shrine is in a small house at the second Otorolomu. It contains imitation elephant tusks made of wood and is attended, as sacrificial priest by the “Osuvue” – Ahomorin. This Osivie is known as the “threader of beads” although,  he does not carry out any such duty. He is a full Ahomorin and would rank second to the Okareworo. At Present, the office is vacant. The title of ahomorin is not hereditary; any man with the required fees can become a member of the society.

 

The Ahomorins, besides their service to Ugbose’s shrine, do not appear to act as a secret society but merely as an executive body in the clan. The extent of their activities is dealt with under the “Administrative section”.

 

HISTORY UNDER BRITISH RULE

 

The first date recorded in which the Olomu clan was first associated in anyway with British expansion in Nigeria was in 1886 when the area occupied by the Itsekiris or Jekries was proclaimed part of the Lagos protectorate. This undoubtedly affected the clan, situated as they were but 13 miles direct from Warri. No information is forthcoming, however, to show that any changes were felt in the clan as a result of this. But in 1900, the Southern Nigeria Government took over control of what is now the Southern Provinces of Nigeria, and shortly after this, the native courts system was established. Warri and Gbogidi native courts were then first to be established and the Okpari native court was started in 1901 and was under the supervision of one Egube, an influential Jekri living at Gbogidi and a Political Agent.

 

The Okpari native court embraced a large area and included the present native court areas of Ughelle, Agbassah, Iyede, Uwerun and Ewu.  From 1907 onwards the latter areas were gradually formed into their own native court areas and were on the territorial rather than on the clan basis. From these beginnings, until the establishment of Native Administration the Native courts apart from their judicial functions, exercised to a great extent executive authority under the control of the district officer in their areas. They came to be regarded as the intermediary between control authority and the communities and the “warrant chiefs” as the true executive Heads instead of the obscure individuals they were in many cases. This phase of the clan history is dealt with fully under “Modern System of Government

 

There is no record that the Olomu clan took any part in this. Such outbreaks were dealt with by troops of the Southern Nigeria Regiment. From this period until 1927, the history of the clan is without incident but in the later years, the Olomu clan in common with other Sobo and Ijo clans in the Division joined in the general disaffection against Government over their declared intention to introduce taxation and over the preliminary taxation assessment necessary to such a scheme.

 

Most of the movement was one of passive resistance well organized along the Sobo clans and one of its manifestations was the active opposition to the ‘warrant chiefs”. native courts, court clerks and messengers and government institutions affecting their every day life.

 

The trouble became acute and the whole area was proclaimed as a disaffected area. In the Olomu clan a patrol of 50 Police operated. The villages of Ukpe, Agbon and Okpavore proved to be the most truculent and were actually ready to march to the village of Owo to destroy Ofeje’s “the present Owhorode of the clan” house. As apart from a long standing quarrel with him over the Owhorodeship these villages were erroneously convinced that Ofeje had agreed with government to collect the Olomu tax for a substantial ‘dash’ in return. The patrol arrived in these villages in time to frustrate their purpose and effected several arrests.

 

It is significant that, in the light of ancient clan organization, that representative from every village of the clan (including all the Ototas) held a clan meeting at Otorolomu to discuss affairs and organize a boycott of European trade. Okpari was foremost in activities directed against trade, and traders to factories were stopped and turned back with their produce. The factories themselves were threatened but no overt act was directed against them. Gradually, the area was restored to order and the clan became sullenly resigned to a future of taxation.

 

Gradually, however, the sullenness that accompanied the introduction of taxation disappeared and all opposition died by the opening months of 1928. It must be recorded that this outbreak turned the searchlight on all abuses and causes for discontent under the old regimes, and as such, proved of some use during …….. ……. the works of investigation ………………… into true native organization.

 

Under British rule the whole of the clan area was opened up, communications between all clan villages established, European trading stations and mission churches and school started. The extent to which the clan has progressed can be seen under the general Head Trade and Currency”.

LAND DISPUTES

 

Finally, it must be recorded that the Olomu clan unlike their Ewu neighbours have not been troubled with any large land questions. The clan area is compact and well defined, with no clan village outside the area or lying in any other clan territory. Thus any difficulties which might have occurred through a question of clan boundaries do not occur when framing proposals for future clan administration. Where there was any doubt at all in the matter of a land dispute, the matter was invariably referred to Ordeal. The loser in this trial had to pay act ordeal expenses.

 

ANCIENT SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT IN THE CLAN

 

The ancient system of government in the Olomu lan was alike in its essentials with surrounding Sobo clan. Executive functions of the controlling forces were definitely laid down and the whole system was very complete and appears to have worked efficiently. As in other Sobo clans, the executive and judicial functions of the administration of the clan were grouped into one “service” with no dividing line to show where one ended and the other began.

 

The ancient history has given the gradual evolution of the clan from its clan town to its present status with 15 villages scattered throughout the area but all regarding Otorolomu as their clan centre; where they used to meet to discuss clan affairs and it was in the villages and the clan centre that local and clan administration was carried out.

 

ANCIENT SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT IN VILLAGES

 

Each of the villages or village groups had its own complete system of government which is different in no way from village government in other Sobo clans. The supreme village authority was the Village Council, presided over by the Okpaku-Orere or Head Okpaku of the village. The Head Okpaku attached to that dignity by seniority as an Okpaku which really amounted to seniority in age (as will be seen when the Okpaku is dealt with later).

 

The council itself was composed of the Head Okpaku of the quarter of that village and all Okpakus and any member of the Ahomorin society belonging to the village. The Okpaku-Orere was assisted by his Otota, the spokesman of the council and in the case of the larger villages by the Akpile or assistant Otota, who helped the Otota in his work and deputized for him when absent from the council.

 

The council, under the Okpaku-Orere was responsible for seeing that all clan orders emanating from the clan council were carried out in their villages. They framed local rules and issued orders for the good of their community, opened and closed the Palm Bush and Fishing waters belonging to the village and supervised the work of the “OTUS” or age grades. In their executive work, they were assisted by the men and women “OTUS” and other villager “officials” which are later dealt with one by one. The judicial aspect of the village council’s work is dealt with under its appropriate Head.

 

THE COUNCIL HOUSE

 

Practically, every village had and still has its Council meeting House in which the council members assembled at the instance of the Okpaku-Orere through his Otota. The work of going through the town informing/warning the council members of a meeting fell to the “Awowo”, or Village/Town Crier who also proclaimed to the village any orders or rules framed at a council meeting. The meeting House was generally sufficient to house the council officials, plus a certain number of the villagers. No special procedure in seating was observed, but the Okpaku=-Orere was generally in the centre of the Bench facing the opening of the council house. His Otota usually stood up when talking. Council Houses were invariably built on the plan as under.

 

Executive matters relating to the whole clan were dealt with by the clan council which always meet at the clan centre, Otorolomu. It was composed of all the village council heads i.e the Okpaku-Oreres, Ototas, Okpakus and Ahomorins. The clan council was under the Presidency of the clan “Owhorode or lit: big man, assisted by a clan Otota. The title Owhorode is dealt with elsewhere. The clan Otota or Olota-Olomu was appointed by the clan in council; ability in debate and general astuteness was the qualification. The position was not hereditary and generally, the clan Otota was an Otota of his own village. He was assisted in his work by the Akpile-Olomu who was appointed by the council for the same gift as his senior. He was usually the Otota of his own community.

 

 

The order of precedence in the council is as follows:

 

1.          The clan Owhorode

2.          The Okareworo

3.          Other full Ahomorins

4.          The Osivie Ahomorins

5.          The Otota-Olomu

6.          The Okpakus (who are Ahomorins)

7.          The Okpakus (who are not Ahomorins) in an advising capacity (the Ahomorin-Itete)

 

 

There is at present no clan council house at Otorolomu but when that centre was flourishing, it possessed such a house, built on exactly the same line as the village council house. The following plan gives an idea of the position in which the council sat. Its venue was invariably Otorolomu itself.

 

In addition to their executive duties, the clan council was the final court and court of appeal in all clan judicial matters. This aspect of their work is later dealt with. The deliberations of the clan council were never conducted in camera and the people of the clan usually attended in large numbers outside the council house. As can be deduced from its composition, the council consisted of a large body of men and generally only a nucleus of the village group councils actually attended the meeting; the Head Okpakus generally very old and discreet being represented by their Ototas.

 

Decisions, edicts and ay new clan laws or rules were proclaimed in council by the Otota-Olomu and were disseminated among the entire clan by a simple and most efficient method of decentralization. The village group Ototas in council on their return to their village groups acquainted his Head Okpaku of the new measures and the latter called a village group general meeting to acquaint them of the matter. This information was therefore handed down to quarter Okpakus, who in turn handed it down to the compound head for the information of individuals under his care. Thus there could be no excuse for ignorance of clan laws, rules and customs.

 

 

THE OWHORODE

 

Dealing with the various clan officials one by one; the Owhorode first calls for attention. The name literally means “BIG MAN”. He was also sometimes known as Umuvorie the “mouth of the clan”. The Owhorode was appointed by election at a clan Council meeting and as the Councillor’s views represented the opinion of their village groups. The appointment was really by election by the whole clan. There seems to have been no particular position in the clan which was regarded as a qualification for the honour; and the most rich and powerful man of his generation was usually chosen. Real ability as an administrator, impartial judge, orator, and a commanding presence were also regarded as essentials in the holder of the title. The clan had plenty of opportunity of sizing up the qualities of individuals during the life time of the previous Owhorode and the people were generally ready to appoint their next Owhorode on the death of the previous holder of the title.

 

The clan genealogical tree shows the lines of Owhorode in red. From this, it would appear that the title was hereditary but the clans people were insistent on the assurance that this was not so. The position was created during a period of Inter-clan warfare, when it was found necessary to benefit by the services of a rich and powerful man; who could help considerably with money and advice and who was known and respected by other clans. Under the first three Owhorodes, the clan developed in prosperity and was little troubled by aliens, clans while internal strife was a thing of the past.

 

The Owhorode did not possess absolute power, but rather constitutional power, with support and advice of the clan council.

The genealogical tree shows that until the 8th generation, the title remained with the Alaka or UHURIE GROUP and that the father of the present holder was the son of an Alaka man by an UDU-IMOGHORO woman. This has consolidated the power of the present holder to a certain extent. It is unfortunate, however, that a feud or rather jealousy on the part of the present Okareworo, has existed against the Owhorode for the past three years. The bad feeling arose in 1927 during the anti-tax demonstrations. Ofeje, the present Owhorode was popularly supposed to be in league with the government,

which was going to grant him a sum of money to collect tax from his town. The leader of the anti-tax movement was one Ebo, the only full Ahomorin in the clan besides the Okareworo. The latter and his followers were the first to associate themselves with the movement and were actually on their way to Owo to destroy Ofeje’s house there when they were intercepted by a police patrol. Since that date, the Okareworo and his adherents have been at enmity with Ofeje. The clan was thoroughly sounded on the question of the OWHORODESHIP, both in the villages and at a full clan meeting. Twelve of the fiteen clan village groups stated that Ofeje was the Owhorode, three villages dissenting The three villages were: ‘Ukpe’ (the present Okareworo’s village); ‘Agbon’ closely related to Ukpe and half mile from it and ‘Oguname’. It is significant that Ebo, the erstwhile ring leader against government and the Owhorode, stated emphatically that Ofeje was the rightful holder of the title.

 

There seems to be little doubt that the Owhorodeship is a long established clan institution and that Ofeje is the rightful man for the title, despite the arguments put forward by the Okareworo, who claims to be head of the clan and who also claims that the Owhorode is made by the Okareworo after the former has been raised to the dignity of a full Ahomorin by the latter. The case of Ebo gives the lie to this and no importance is attached to this claims. The Okareworo is however, regarded by the whole clan as the second head or dignity.

 

MALE AGE GROUP

 

There was a very definite social scaffolding on which was built the entire administration and economic life of the clan. Males and females were treated apart ad were divided into age grades “OTUS” Each ‘Otu” having its own duties to perform and its own privileges.

 

THE OKPAKU

 

The most senior grade was the Okpaku Otu or grade of old men. This grade forms the village group and the clan councils. An Okpaku receives no appointment as such. When a man has passed through all the stages of the junior Otus and reaches a fairly ripe age,

and furthermore becomes the responsible authority for a small community i.e. A domestic family, he is admitted into the deliberations of the council, and, ipso facto, becomes a member of the Okpaku class. He wears no distinctive dress, badge or staff of office, and no special qualifications are required of him; but it must be understood that an Okpaku with a sense of responsibility, or organization, at character and personality is soon recognized as an important man whose views are accepted as against those of his more senior but less responsible brethren.

 

THE OTOTA AND AKPILE

 

The Otota whether of a village, group council or of the clan is of the Okpaku grade and is elected to the office for his powers of debate, and organization and his character and personality. His assistant, the Otota-Itele or Akpile is also generally an Okpaku and is similarly elected. Athough, he is in theory only the Mouth Piece of the Okpaku-Orere, or in the case of the clan council, of the Owhorode yet he is in reality a very influential man and is generally regarded as second after the Council Head. In the absence through illness of the latter, it is the Otota who generally conducts Council matters.

 

THE EVRAWA

 

The next OTU among the age grades was the Evrawa. In ancient times this OTU was split up into two OTUs i.e the Otuikpokpor acted as leaders for the Evrawa and saw that they carried out duties allotted to them. It was found unnecessary for two OTUS to function and these two were combined into the Evrawa Otu. The largest OTU, it consisted of all males from the time they reached the age of puberty until their inclusion in the Okpaku grade.

 

Their duties consisted in carrying out orders given to them by the village group council, in manual labour for the good of the community e.g clearing inter-village paths, and helping to repair shrines and public buildings. Each village group had its own Evrawa who were under the leadership of their Awotu” or Otu Head. The latter was elected to his position by the Otu and was a person of some consequence in the community. He saw that his otu carried out their duties properly and put before the council any complaints, petitions or suggestions on behalf of the OTU.

 

The council generally summoned the awotu to attend the council meetings to give advice and to represent the views of his otu. The Evrawa had their own Ikor, or messengers and very often had their own council hall. Very minor dispute among themselves were generally settled by the Awotu. The Awowo or Town Crier was also selected from this OTU.

 

THE IKOR

 

The Ukor (plural Ikor) was the Council Messenger and Bailiff. He summoned parties to appear before the Council, and carried out any judicial orders in Council such as destruction of a thief’s property, sales of goods, collection of fines etc. The clan council and each of the village councils had their own Ikor, which seldom exceeded three in number.

 

These Ikor must not be confused with the Evrawa. They were recruited from among either the junior Okpakus or the senior Evrawa i.e middle-aged men. The Evrawa Otu had its own Ikor, recruited from among themselves, and their duties were confined to their own otu although, they were sometimes, employed for council business on long journeys.

 

THE AWOWO

 

The Awowo or town Crier was of the Evrawa Otu. His duty was to proclaim round his village group the date and time of any council meeting, and also any rules made by the council. Each village group had its own Awowo.

 

YOUNG BOYS

 

Young Boys who had not reached the age of puberty were not banded into a definite otu, and had no regular responsibilities. They were called upon however, to carry out light duties in the village.

 

OLOTU

 

The position of Olotu is no longer filled in the Olomu clan, but in the days when inter-clan warfare was of common occurrence, the Olotu was appointed by the village council to be their leader in war. He also was the priest of the war juju.

 

THE SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN

 

It is equally important to study the part that women play in the communal life of the clan and investigation shows that they are a force to be reckoned with in clan affairs, being branded together in their own otus or age groups. Each group is allotted its communal duties and the whole system is organized on exactly the same lines as that of the men. Women’s Otus embraced women of all ages between twelve years until death. Up to the age of twelve years, female children were not generally called upon to perform any duties, but as soon as they were deemed grown enough to carry out light duties, they become members of the Otu Emete.

 

OTU EMETE

 

The Out Emete numbered all girls from approximately the age of twelve years until they had been circumcised and led to their husbands house. It had its own Otota. Their duties were to sweep the village streets and open spaces and to perform general light labour for the good of the community. On being ‘led’ to their husbands’ house, they attained the dignities of matrons and automatically passed unto the next senior Otu, the Otu Eweya..

 

OTU EWEYA

 

The Otu Eweya consisted of all married women in the village, the greater percentage being women belonging to outside villages. Here again, the Otu had its Otota, and through her, exerted a very real influence in the community. They were the guardian of all ceremonial connected with maternity e.g they saw to it that the prescribed purification necessary after the death of a woman in child-birth were carried out by the family. They jealously guarded all purification ceremonies and any lapse from prescribed ritual was at once reported by them to the Council, from then demanded an order for proper completion of the ceremony and very often compensation from the founder for their injured feelings.

 

The Eweya saw to it that regulations governing farming were strictly adhered to. They reported to the Council any damage to crops or fences by cows, goats or pigs and put forward to that body their suggestions for redress. The Council always treated this Otu with the greatest respect as they held a trump card in that should their requests be ignored, they would leave the village in a body, settle in a neighbouring village and not return until the council came to see reason. Imagine the state of affairs in the village, with no one to cook meals or to farm or to do the marketing. On top of this, the village had to pay to the other village which harboured the women compensation for the subsistence of the Eweya. Needless to say, it was very seldom that a council was foolhardy enough to brave such a threat although such cases have occurred in the Olomu clan.

 

THE EMETOGBE

 

The last women’s otu was that of the Emetogbe which was composed of all women who had married into outside villages, and an attaining widowhood had returned to their native village. Widows who had married in their own village were also of this grade, but where a woman from another village, becoming a widow, stayed with the deceased husband’s family she continued to be of the Eweya. This Otu was excused practically from all duties and generally voiced its opinions through the Eweya.

 

It is worthy of note that among the Eweya, women who married in their own villages were considered unimportant and they gave way to the women from outside villages in matters of Otu’s interest and in all dealings with the council.

 

Reviewing the activities of the Otu, both male and female it must be recorded that each one through its Otota was always given a hearing in the village council and matter, peculiarly connected with an Otu’s duties was generally referred to “that otu” for its opinion and advice. Thus, the council was able to feel the pulse of every section of the community, women as well as men; and the former’s importance in the general scheme was fully realized and fully admitted. Women were not, however, allowed to sit as members of council or to exert any executive or judicial power in a village.

 

METHOD OF COLLECTION OF TAX

 

An admirable system of decentralization in the machinery of tax collection holds good in the Olomu clan. On receiving the tax demand notice from Native Administration, Headquarters asking for a certain tax quota to be paid by a certain date, the village hold a council meeting to discuss the proportion of the quota each quarter should pay.  The quarter Okpaku is made responsible for the tax of his quarter and he brings it to the council meeting house where the council check it and pool the whole of the amount finally sending it into the Headquarter by messengers, generally Ikor, sometimes Ikor Evrawa and even sometimes the Otota himself. Nominal rolls are generally corrected at the instance of the Okpaku Orere by the Otota aided by the quarter Okpakus. A suitable boy who understands reading and writing is detailed to act as a scribe.

 

SECRET SOCIETIES AND JUJU SOCIETIES AFFECTING CLAN SOCIAL LIFE

 

THE AHOMORIN

 

Apart from the Ahomorin Society, the Olomu clan does not possess any secret societies, and in reality the Ahomorins cannot be said to be a true secret society, although, ceremony connected with the society proper is held privately, chiefly because outsiders do not interest themselves in these affairs. The origin and history of this body has already been dealt with. It takes an important part in clan affairs, and all its members belong to their village group councils and to the clan council more in an advisory capacity than as actual executive members. Today, the society is composed of the Okareworo, one full ahomorin and sixty-four Ahomorin Itete or initiates, the office of Osivie being at present vacant. Of these Ahomorins-Itete, thirty-four are also Okpakus and therefore full members of council, the remaining thirty being of the council but with no executive power as is the case with Okpakus who are not Ahomorins.

 

JUJU SOCIETIES

 

With regard to juju societies, there are two which affect the social life of the community i.e. the Orise or Chalk juju and the Eveghre or Cassava juju. The former was established some twenty years ago in Agbor-Sobo country, but its centre soon shifted to Usoro in the Ase Sub-district where the Head Priest are Okonedo appointed juju Priest for the whole of the Sobo area. The members of this juju were practically all women and its main work was the “smelling out” of witches. White Chalk played a large part in the ceremony. The juju came to be somewhat of a nuisance and interfered in judicial matters to a certain extent. Today, however, it has practically died out in Sobo country, the one remaining stronghold being in the Agbudu country where the daughter of a local court member acts as priestess. It no longer operates in the Olomu clan, although the Isoko people still regard it as important and Okonedo flourishes still at Usoro.

 

THE EVEGHRE JUJU

 

The other juju, the Eveghre or cassava juju, is of more recent origin. The disastrous cassava crop at the close of the year 1928 alarmed the country side and at Effurun, in Uvwie countr an individual early in 1929 announced that he had discovered a new juju for good cassava crops. The movement spread very rapidly and naturally very popular. Here again, as can be supposed, the movement was practically confined to women and itself was confined to working for good cassava crops. Later, it developed in its activities and included the smelling-out of witches in its repertoire. Apart from mild excesses due to religious sermons which have been strongly discouraged, the juju has so far kept within bounds, but a careful watch is being maintained on its activities. It is still wildly popular in every village of Sobo and Isoko country. Is acolytes are women dressed in red kirtles and its chief manifestation is in dancing, the priestess waving small stripped cassava branches. As in the case of the Orise juju, which also started with a wild burst of popularity, it is expected that this juju will lose in popularity as the novelty wears off.

 

It is significant that both jujus have specialized in witch-craft. The underlying motive is a fertility cult, and the witch-smelling ensures that there shall be no malign influence on child birth or harvest. Since the fall in power of the Usere lake juju, which was the extremely powerful witch-smelling juju at Usere in Isoko country and which was universally recognized by the western Ijo and Kwale Ibo sub-tribes, the people had been left with no method of ensuring fertility. It is suggested that these juju are somewhat poor substitutes and that new juju of similar origin and with similar aims will continually appear and as continually die away.

 

LIST OF MEMBERS OF THE AHOMORIN SOCIETY

 

OKareworo               -       Ikogo (Ukpe)

Osivie                      -       Vacant

Full Ahomorin          -       Ebo (Iwrogoni)

 

AHOMORIN-ITETE

(who are Okpakus)

AHOMORIN-ITETE

(who are not Okpakus)

 

Okorodudu - Court member/Okari

Ogbinigbi    - Okpari

UnufeloriOkpaku,Orere-Owo

Ofeje       - OwhorodeOwo

Agbon     - Iwregoni

Adomu    -      

Akpogenabo   

Akpotohor      

Ugbaga      - Ofomgbala

Emegbon   - Oguname

Umughelle      

Akponedo       

Obaro-EfeyewaOfomangle

Erufu                -  Ukpe

Eruveru             - Ukpe

Izeze                 - Ukpe

Odukuye           - Okpavore

Arigbe,Okpaku-OrereAgbon

Okwovoriole,court member,Agbon

Oririara             - Akpere

Isoko                -   

Irobo                    

Efekunu                

Efioto                     

Jarikre                   

Aloba                    

Irowhoru          -   Umolo

Oviokpokpor         

Akoruvbeku     -   Oworokpokpo

Okofefe            -   Oviri Olomu

Efediame          -    

Ororo               -    Oviri Olomu

Ibeni                -     Aloba

Oritaegbone    -      Aloba

 

Okotie       - Okpari

Ussoba      - Owo

Edotie       - Oforigbalo

Atuduhor  - Court member, Ofiri

Esite          - Court member,Ukpe

Etakoro     -                         

Obamyedo                           

Agboro                               

Esiovo                                  

Olokpeje                             

Umujo                                

Ohiria                                 

Ahoha        -  Ukpe

Ojarikre               

Amererowu         

Obakolari            

Adegbe               

Akpodiete           

Efekunu              

Oboro,court-  Okpavore

Olafuro      -   Akpere

Akpovoro    -   Umolo

Erumala       -       

Olokposa         Oworokpokpo

Akaise          -       

Tabuno         -   Oviri-Olomu

Obunyawa     -       

Akpokemya   - court, Oviri-Olomu

Ofogo            -                

Akporehe       -                  

 

SLAVERY – OVIEN

 

This section is included in the report as slavery was an integral part of the social organization of the clan, with its own code of laws and customs. The latter, except in a few instances held good for most of the Sobo sub-tribe. The following section on this subject is taken from the Ewu clan report of the Sobo sub-tribe, as in all respects  the Olomu clan agrees in this matter.

 

ACQUISITION OF SLAVES

 

The luxury of owing slaves depended upon the affluences of the individual, who obtained them mainly by purchase, Slaves, however, entered that degraded status from many causes. People captured in war, if not sacrificed or killed, were sold into slavery or retained as a slave by the captor. It was also recognized that a person from another clan who could be caught away from his people became a slave. This system of replenishing a stock very often resulted in inter-clan fights.

The other classes of slaves i.e those of the same clan, were recruited from defaulting debtors and the unfortunate sons whose father considered he had too many sons thus took an opportunity of rectifying the mistake and profiting peculiarly at the same time. In these cases, the slaves were generally sold to other clans.

Children born of slaves were born into slavery and owned by the parent’s master. A slave laboured for the good of his master at all times but on reaching the status of a senior slave, or of having won the master’s confidence, they were allowed to work partly for their own advantages. It is asserted that in many cases a slave was richer then his own master.

]

The will of the master was absolute. He was entitled to flog his slaves for delinquencies or even to put them to death with impunity. On the whole, however, slaves were well treated provided they behaved themselves. Theft by a slave was punished by a severe flogging and if a slave becomes a nuisance, he was generally sold to an unsuspecting purchaser. Troublesome slaves, in imitation of the Itsekiri custom, were often marked by having their ears cut off, or two crosses incised on the chest and two on the back.

 

The daughters of slaves were generally made the wives of the master or of his sons. Children of slaves were known as ivbiedo. Should a slave have committed adultery with the female slave of another master, any children thereof would belong to the woman’s master. Should a slave have committed adultery with a free born woman, the child of the woman belonged to the woman’s family. In both cases the slave was not punished. A free born man who killed the slave of another had to compensate the latter in kind.

 

MANUMISSION

 

Slaves, at the caprice of the master, could buy their freedom, but the redemption money varied with the slave’s usefulness and state of affluence. The general rule was that, on redemption by himself or his family, a slave gave up all his belongings and money to his master. Such wealth as he had amassed during slavery was his own contingent upon his remaining a slave. On being set free, a slave was required to swear juju that he was taking nothing away.

His hair was then shaved off, he washed in water and was then totally free, leaving his master with literally no belonging although, his former master might have given him small cloth to go away.

 

Although slavery is now a relic of the past, an individual, knowing that he comes from slave parents and that he has not freed himself will endeavour to clear his name by paying redemption money to his former master’s family. This may be as small as £20. He is then free of that stigma and also free to marry a free born woman; for although these days there is no bar to a marriage with the son of a former slave provided the dowry satisfied, yet there is still this stigma attached to such a name.

 

PAWNING

 

Akin to slavery, pawning was widely practiced among the clan. This was a vicious system by which a man, finding himself in dire need of money to pay a debt or to revive the fortunes of his house pawned his children or when in desperate strait, even himself, for a sum of money or property. The “pledge” then became virtually a slave to the “pawnbrother”, until such time as the pledge was redeemed by a consideration exceeding in varying degrees, the original consideration. Often the pledges were forgotten and became ordinary slaves, without hope of redemption.

 

Land also, was considered a pawnable asset, and it was a very common occurrence to raise money on farms and oil palms. Very often, again, there was no hope of redeeming the pledge, which was then the property of the pawnbrother. Not a few land cases, it is conjectured, have had them beginning from such a transaction, where the pledges, conveniently forgetting his liability, has at some later date indignantly laid claim to his ‘land’

 

MODERN SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT

 

Under this section, the same account of radical changes in clan government applies to the whole of the Sobo sub-tribe. The latter quarter of the 19th century saw the gradual spread of British influence in Nigeria.

 

Jekri territory was occupied in the eighties and gradual operation of Sobo country, followed, chiefly due to the cooperation of Jekri Political Agents, who did much to help the spread of British influence and incidentally their own. Olomu territory had for some time before this felt Itsekiri influence to a small extent, but clan administration was not influenced or changed in any way by this.

 

ADVENT OF GOVERNMENT

 

The new administration endeavoured to bring the Sobos into their sphere but do not interfere to any extent with the native law and custom. The resultant complete change in administration was, unfortunately due mostly to the people themselves.

 

The real leaders of the clans, through mistrust of the European, kept in the background and while at the start, they continued to wield the power, the representatives put up to government as being the community heads were in most cases men of no standing who were selected to be the community scapegoats, as it was thought. Again, clever and foresighted individuals, seeing what this new system would lead to, put themselves up as representatives with the thoughtless but thankful and relieved approval of their leaders. Government could not but accept the situation as it was represented to them.

 

START OF NATIVE COURTS

 

In 1900, the system was started of planning certain stretches of territories under the judicial power of a native court and in that year, such a court was established at  Agogidi – a Jekri settlement on the Warri river between Oma and Otokutu, and in 1901, a native court was established at Okpari; until 1907, the court has jurisdiction over Olomu, Ughelle, Agbassah, Iyede, Uwerun and Ewu areas and was directed by one Eyube, a Jekri Political Agent and trader from Gbogidi. In 1907 and afterwards these various areas became native court areas on their own.

 

At that time, the district officer was the Head of the Administration and the Native courts soon came to be regarded as the intermediary between the district officer and the communities, as indeed they were. Thus an executive authority passed gradually from the true leaders to the members of the native courts, although the village councils continued to function in a very minor way. The court members drunk with their new found authority lost no opportunity in endeavouring to suppress any form of true native organization that looked like usurping their own authority.

 

In the Olomu clan, however, many of these court members were themselves Okpakus and Ahomorins and the clan soon resigned itself to the new state of affairs under the “Government Chiefs” as they called them. The later threw off any native titles or offices they possessed, contenting themselves with being “warrant chiefs”. Therefore, true native organization became a thing of the past. Such institutions as the clan and village councils, if they did meet, met in secret and were constantly hurried by the “warrant chiefs”. Rule by the elders gave place to village communism and the final blow to ancient native organization was delivered when the native authority ordinance was passed, where all native courts in the Sobo sub-tribe were gazetted as native authorities for the area under their judicial control. The Olomu clan were, however, in better position than some of their neighbours as the Okpari native court once practically conformed to the clan area, thus keeping alive an idea of clan unity.

 

Up to 1927, this system of government continued, the people became more and more irritated by the steady assumption of more powers, but nursing their irritation in secret. What happened in 1929 has already been related, but it is not surprising that the activities and malevolence of the movement were chiefly directed against the warrant chief, the native courts, messengers and scribes and everything connected with them. This movement certainly did some good, in that it finally showed government the true attitude towards the native court system as it had developed and some of the institutions which shredded for reform.

 

Since 1927, intensive explanatory campaigns have been undertaken to drive home to the people the aims of true native administration and its structure.

 

Village councils were encouraged to meet and exert their old functions, and entrusted with the collection of their community tax quotas. This encouragement was at first dubiously received but was soon accepted and universally regarded as a change for the better. At present, all the village councils are completely organized and are in complete running order. The clan council, is ready to act as such, the Otus are fully organized, male and female. This quick change shows that the old system was a very hardy plant, which the years 1901-1907 were unable to kill totally. The system of decentralization from clan council downwards is in full working order. In short, the whole of the clan machinery is oiled and ready. It merely requires starting.

 

EFFICIENCY OF COURT MEMBERS AND HOW APPOINTED

 

 

It has already been pointed out that in many cases the “warrant chiefs” was not the rightful head of the community he represented, and very often not even a responsible member of the council. In some cases, they were put up as council nominees to act as the village scapegoat in case of trouble. They soon learnt the policy of serving what they understand to be the stronger of the combatants i.e. the government.

 

They conveniently forgot, to a certain extent some of their native laws and customs which they thought would not be liked by the “whiteman”, and substituted therefore a kind of bastard code which was their idea of a compromise between British justice and native law and custom. It must be stated that the court members were in a deft stick. It was to their advantage to please both government and the people and under the circumstances, they did their best. Bribery was, it is feared, rampant, but not more so …….. the ordinary social life ………… communities, where it is  …..guised part of the general

 

……Okpari native court which ………. Is at present the …..authority consists of 12 members, 11 of which belong to the Olomu clan. Their history sheets at the end of the report give an idea of their social status. With the proposals for reconstruction, the court members do not figure. If he has a right by native law and custom to sit on a village council and thus the clan council, then his name is automatically included by virtue of that right only. Members who have no such right will have to go by the board and attain to council dignity in the ordinary way. They will in fact, revert to their proper rung on the social ladder.

 

 

PROPOSALS FOR THE FUTURE

 

The ancient system of government has been dealt with and shows that the clan had a well regulated administrative system with an admirable scheme of decentralization. In dealing with proposals for the future, the material already provided is to be used to the full in the future clan organization. Thus we have the clan council, with its president, members, advisers, executive officers and junior officials. There are also the village group councils also with their head, members and executive functionaries. This is the framework on which it is proposed to build the future administrative edifice.

 

THE CLAN COUNCIL

 

 

The clan which is administered executively (and judicially) by the clan council with the Owhorode as the clan Head and president of council and the Okareworo as vice president. The clan council will be the native authority with jurisdiction over the clan. It is proposed that the clan council be gazetted as such and that its executive powers should be those as laid down by the native authority ordinance. The wording of the constituted native authority should be, it is proposed: “The Owhorode of the Olomu clan in Clan Council”.

 

CONSTITUTION

 

The clan council shall consist of the village group councils of the Olomu clan, of exactly the same councilors who are included in the clan judicial warrants. It is realized that this means a very large body, but it is organized that this should be no bar to the constitution of the council on strictly correct lines by native custom. Generally speaking, only a nucleus of each village group council would attend clan council meetings.

 

DUTIES

 

The Otota Olomu shall be the clan spokesman in council, assisted by the Akpile Olomu. The council will make it their duty to see that clan tax is properly apportioned and collected, that the revision of nominal rolls for taxation is carried out promptly and conscientiously, that all community needs and proposals for native administration works and the extra ordinary expenditure of native administration money is debated upon and forwarded to central office with their views thereon, as well as the duties of supervision of clan welfare.

 

Payment of all salaries all contractors in the area; collection of all salaries of contractors in the area, collection of all native administration revenue in the area, including all judiciary revenue and its monthly payment into central native administration funds.

 

VENUE

 

The Clan Council will meet at the Council Hall which is proposed to be built at the position marked on the sketch map, as chosen by twelve village groups for the reasons discussed latter, but this should be no bar to a meeting being convened at any village group or place in the clan area, should the occasion arise. The question of the building is discussed later.

 

THE VILLAGE GROUP COUNCIL

 

The Village Group Council, as listed in the clan warrant (appendice) shall be as it is proposed, the executive authority having jurisdiction over their own village group area only. Their duties would be the carrying out and enforcement of clan rules and orders, the proper rendition of their nominal rolls and payment of their tax quotas to the clan council where and when ordered by them and the maintenance of law and order. Any matters of native administration interest should be ventilated through them to the clan council.

 

SALARIES

 

 

All salaries proposed are included in the clan estimates of expenditure. The Owhorode and the Okareworo are the only salaried individuals while the village group councils’ salaries are based on 10% of the gross tax collected for the area, not as an appreciation of their endeavours in collection of tax but as a definite lump sum payment to the council for their total executive. To bring home realization of this, it is proposed that all executive salaries be paid monthly.

 

THE SUGGESTED ROUTINE IS AS FOLLOWS

 

 

At the month end, the Clan Council having collected all revenue including judicial revenue sends the accredited Council Senior Ukor (officer) with the money and explanatory schedules and supporting vouchers to Native Administration Headquarters which then entrusts to the Ukor the total monthly expenditure for the area i.e. Executive salaries, all judicial salaries, pay for the clan road labourers and employees, together with the supporting vouchers. The Ukor also takes back with him receipts for the revenue collected and he hands to the clan council the expenditure money. The clan council then pays all clan officials and employees, sending back the vouchers duly receipted. This system places rightful power in the hands of the body fully entitled to wield it and discourages any notion of superiority of any clan employee.

 

Checking of all accounts would be carried out periodically by an Administrative officer with the council, all at clan centre with regard to the site on which it is proposed to build the clan council hall, it was asserted at a clan meeting that although Otorolomu was their clan town, it is now important only as being the site of Ugbose’s shrine and that clan meetings were always held in the Owhorode’s village. This rule, they say now impracticable, and twelve of the village groups desired that the meeting hall should be built at the point marked on the sketch map. They say that, apart from Otorolomu only being important as Ugbose’s shrine, they scattered from that town because of its unhealthiness and the alarming death-rate that occurred there, and that they certainly would not like to have to go there often, probably staying over-night for each meeting.

 

Three towns, those that upheld the Okareworo as Clan Head, favour Otorolomu for it is proposed, therefore, to fall in with the wishes at the cross roads of the Umolo-Akpere and Umole-Ukpe roads. The ground is high, and the site is central for the clan. It is proposed, for the present at any rate, for this hall to serve both for the Native authority and clan judicial council. The estimates allow for this. In every case, the village group councils already have their own meeting houses, which it is proposed to keep in a state of repair for them.

The judicial council scribe shall, it is proposed, be at the disposal of the clan council for any office work, writing or financial work required by them. As has been laid down later, this scribe will, of course, be of the Olomu clan himself. The clan council will have two Ikor at their disposal, to act as messengers and at the council’s orders, in addition, to two Ikor for judicial duties. It should be at the clan council’s discretion whether the duties would be made inter-changeable.

 

COST OF PROPOSED ADMINISTRATION AND TOTAL REVENUE FROM ALL SOURCES:

 

HEAD

ITEM

DETAILS OF REVENUE

ESTIMATES

 

I

 

 

General Tax 50%

 

1.5.0.-243

 

II

 

III

 

 

 

1

2

 

Clan Native Court Head

Village Court

Native Council fines

Native Council fees

 

 

 

50—

200--

 

 

 

1

 

Other Records

Miscellaneous

 

 

0

 

IV

 

1

 

Market rents

Interest on fixed dposit

(clan share)

Total Revenue

 

 

28—

13—

544—

 

V

 

 

Spend,…from Warri Native Admin

Revenue for first year

 

98.5

642.5m

 

COMMENTARY

 

1      HEAD II     :       The figures for fees and fines for the Okpari

Native Court were in the year 1929-30 £217.6r and £41.15r respectively. The estimated figures are very  conservative as it is expected that the clan and village councils will prove more popular than the Okpari Native court.

 

2      HEAD IV    :       Item I – the markets rents are those collected

from stallholders in the Okpari market where permanent native administrator stalls have been erected

 

3      HEAD V     :       Item 1 – This is the clan share (one twelfth) of

the total interest on native administrative fixed deposit i.e $160 per annum.

 

4.                             The special grants of £98.5 will only be required for the first year of clan organization. The expenditure under Head x capital works of £124 is an offset against this.

 

 

COMMENTARY ON EXPENDITURE

 

HEAD II ITEM I:

 

The proposed salary of the Ohworode represented 5.3% and the Ikor 10%. This including the 10% gross tax to the village group council. The total percentage for salaries is 22.3% where items are included as clan share, one twelfth of the each total in the approved estimates for 1930-31 has been allowed for as being a fair discussion among the clans of the Sobo sub-tribe, the Mein clan of the western Ijo sub-clan and that part of the Jekri sub-tribe within the Warri Division.

 

HEAD IX ITEMS 1 & 2

 

These estimates are also roughly one twelfth of the total expenditure

Authorised in the estimates but they are earmarked for the Olomu clan only.  The total Revenue for 1929-30 for the Okpari Native Court was £40. The approximate expenditure on items is again divided up into one twelfth, except where the Olomu area has definitely incurred expenditure under Head III, VIII item 3 and Head IX item 1.

 

HEAD V – JUDICIAL

 

 

In common with all Sobo clans and indeed with the western Ijo, Isoko and Kwale – Ibo sub-tribes as well, the ancient judicial and

 

administrative systems were organized as one administration and there was no dividing line between the two functions. This judicial authority was in the hands of the clan and judicial councils. The primary judicial tribunal was the village group council which dispensed justice to the community which they regulated and theoretically, in a dispute between people of different village groups, where the defendant belonged to that village group. Their powers, were however, limited to less serious breaches of native law, but they generally dealt with all civil cases of local origin; where a serious crime had been committed in a community, the village group council thoroughly investigated the case and sent the matter to the clan, where the council members informed them of the results of their investigation, gave their view thereon and supplied any local knowledge and previous history relevant to the case.

 

Cases of murder, manslaughter, robbery, serious theft and arson were always sent to the clan council for trial. It is difficult to lay down any hard and fast rule as to where the powers of the village group council ended or where those of the clan council began. It generally rested with the Village Group Council to decide whether any matter was too serious for them to deal with. The composition of these Councils, their officers and Executive procedure has already been set down.

 

Apart from these bodies, no other body in the clan was given any judicial power with the exception of the Evrawa and the Aweye Otus where minor quarrels among members of the Otus were settled by the Otu itself. Even where juju smell out witches, they could take no constitutional action against them until the matter had been dealt with by one of the councils.  The Olomu clan has a well defined code of justice with all forms of crime considered as such by the clan. Punishment was melted out according to system. Punishment by deprivation of liberty was unknown; practically all offences not punishable by death were dealt with by fines and compensations to the injured party.

 

JUDICIAL PROCEDURE

 

In civil cases, both parties to a case brought the hearing fees to the council. These fees usually consisted of Palm Wine to the rough value of £2, which was consumed by the members of the council, on the result of the case; the losing party had to refund to the successful party the hearing fees set down by him. In criminal cases, the Complainant brought the hearing fee. If the Accused was adjudged guilty he had to refund this hearing fee to the complaint.

 

In civil matters, the Plaintiff first stated his case, and his witnesses gave testimony. In criminal matters, the complainant first laid charge before the council. If the accused pleaded guilty to it, the council then and there pronounced judgment sentence. If a plea of not guilty was proffered, the complainant then proceeded to prove his charge, backed by any witnesses he had, the defendant being heard afterwards. It is now proposed to deal with the division of crime and civil matters separately.

 

MURDER

 

 

Cases of murder were always decided by the clan Council held at Otorolomu. The evidence was collected, exhaustively from all sources, and if found guilty of murder, he was sentenced by the Owhorode-Okareworo touching the condemned man on the head with a bini sword. The death sentence was carried out by the council Ikor, who saw that the man was properly hanged at the hanging tree in the old Otorolomu.

 

The murdered man’s family also saw to it that the crime was expiated. The murderer’s body was then dealt with in the same way as the murdered man was killed by the latter’s brother or other man’s relation. The body of the murderer was then given to his family for burial in Egborahor (i.e. bad bush) with women who had died in childbirth and persons who had died of loath (some bad diseases). This family had to pay Igbo-lare (£3.10) in cowries and a goat to the town of the murdered man or to the council; and to the murdered man’s family a further compensation of Igbo-Erho (£1.10). This payment was known as Odohorije i.e “money to stop fight”.

The hanging was generally slow suffocating as the man was given no drop.

 

Parricide and Matricide were both regarded as murder, and dealt with accordingly but the murder of a son or daughter was not so regarded and was not punished as the loss was to the man and his family only. However, if the wife’s family pressed, the father of the child had to pay them compensation of generally Igbuje. On the other hand, murder of an infant was regarded as murder. Murder by a madman was punished by hanging and the madman’s family’s property was destroyed as a punishment for not chaining or killing such a danger to the town. Occasionally, this was averted by the payment of Igbo-uje (£10) to the murdered person’s family. Again, the killing of another during unfair fight was regarded as murder.

 

TWIN MURDER

 

In the Olomu clan, in the case of the birth of twins, one only was killed. This was not regarded as a crime but was an accepted custom. Thereafter for 7 days, the family kept to their compound and 3 months after the birth. The house and compound were purified with the prescribed ceremonies.

 

WIFE MURDER

 

 

Wife murder was punished by death. The murderer was refunded one half the dowry he paid on his wife by the latter’s family. He was then hanged.

 

 

 

ATTEMPTED MURDER

 

 

Attepted murder was punished by a severe flogging, the guilty person being sold as a slave.

 

MANSLAUGHTER

 

Manslaughter was regarded as a crime of less gravity than murder. The killing of a man by accident, or by mistake was classed as manslaughter, the punishment for which was the levying of compensation to the dead man’s family of a man and a woman to belong to that family.

 

STEALING

 

The offences of burglary, stealing and robbery were all classed as the same offence. The more serious cases under the crime were dealt with by the clan council. All stealing cases were punished by a fine of Igbo-Ujuve £20 of which Igbo-Ikwe - £5 was given to the owner of the stolen property, Igbo-erha £1.10 to the informer and the remainder to the Clan Council. Burglary and Robbery were punished in the same way. Any injury done in that act of robbery had to be compensated for by the robber, who had also to pay all dodors…. fees which may have been incurred in remedies for the cuts etc. Cases of attempting theft, robber or burglary were punished by a fine of Igbuje £10

 

ARSON

 

Arson was punished by the guilty person having to compensate for the value of the property destroyed. The estimate for such compensation was always on a very generous scale.

 

SLANDER

 

Ordinary abuse was not regarded as a criminal matter, whether published or not but to call another freeborn individual a slave was regarded as a serious crime. A fine of Igbo-Ikwe £5 was levied and compensation of Igbuje £10 awarded.

 

 

RAPE

 

Generally speaking, rape was not regarded as an actionable offence except in the cases of married woman and the children of tender years. Rape of an unmarried girl who had reached the age of puberty was not actionable but of a married woman resulted in a fine of Igbo-Ogban $15 and a compensation of Igbo-Ikweyorin $7.10 to the husband.

 

ABDUCTION

 

Abduction of any form, whether of a woman, boy or girl was regarded as stealing and the fine varied with the gravity of the offence, being from Igbuje £10 to Igbo-Ujuve £20.

 

PERJURY

 

 

Perjury was much less common in the days when the Native Council held such a powerful instrument as trial by juju and ordeal. The knowledge that the council’s could have recourse to these methods discouraged most attempts to mislead them. Ordinary perjury was punished by a flogging but serious perjury where it resulted in a grave miscarriage of justice by a very severe flogging and a fine of Igbo-Iyorin £2.10. These floggings were severe punishments. In addition to this, the perjurer had to pay all the expenses of the case and compensate the other party with one white goat, one white chicken and Igbo-Iwre. It is asserted that where a clan’s man was summoned by another clan to give false evidence on their behalf against his own clan man, the latter sentenced him to death when they caught him. He was hanged by his own shamed family.

 

GENERAL

 

It has been stated that all animals, when found guilty, were severely flogged and pepper was rubbed in their eyes, as a mere preliminary to their particular sentence. It can therefore be seen that crime was discouraged by having recourse to severe punishments.

 

 

 

CIVIL MATTER

 

 

Under this head came all cases of debt, payment or refund of dowry, adultery, land disputes and inheritance, minor disputes of this nature were generally settled by the Village Group Councils but all land disputes involving more than one village group were decided by the Clan Counil.

 

ADULTERY

 

 

Adultery, in the case of an unmarried girl who had reached the age of puberty, was not regarded as actionable. No fine or compensation was levied. Children of such adultery belonged equally to the father and mother. If the child were a boy, he lived with the father and if a girl with the mother. The girls dowry, on her reaching marriageable age was divided between father and mother, the former getting the larger share. Adultery with a girl who had not reached the age of puberty was treated as rape.

 

Adultery with a married woman resulted in an order for compensation of Igbuje to the husband. If the latter were of another village group, he was given the whole sum. If he belonged to the same village group, the compensation was divided among the village group council.

 

Adultery with the slave woman of another master did not entail fine or compensation. The child of such union became the property of the master, but the natural father could purchase his child. The values were roughly Igbuje £10 for a male child and Ighe-ogba £15 for a female child. Should a male slave commit adultery with a female slave of another master, no compensation or fine resulted. The master of the female slave becomes the owner of any child of such union. Should a male slave commit adultery with a free born woman, not the wife of his master, no compensation or fine was levied. Any child of such union belonged to the free born mother.

 

INCEST

 

 

Incest appears to have been practically an unknown crime, and no precedent could be given for its punishment or otherwise.

 

DEFAMATION

 

Defamation of character was generally punished by a fine of Igbuje. Compensation to the injured party was awarded out of this fine.

 

COURT PROCEDURE, ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENT:

 

JUJU AND ORDEAL

 

Where judgment had been given for compensation and for a fine to be paid, the judgment debtor remained under surveillance until his family produced the amount in full. Failure to pay the debt or fine resulted in the selling into slavery of the defaulter or one of his family, the proceeds de-fraying compensation to the injured party and the remainder accruing to the town people. During the interval between deliverance of judgment and its satisfaction, the criminal or debtor was very often chained by the feet and kept under the eyes of the Ikor. But another system of satisfying judgment was for the debtor to pledge himself or his son or brother during the interval allowed for judgment. Failure to pay in the allotted time resulted in the selling of the pledge into slavery.

 

APPEALS

 

Appeals lay from the Village Group Councils to the clan Council, whose decision was final.

Appeals lie at the Appeal Court at Warri. This court is most unpopular with the Olomu clan, indeed with the Sobo sub-tribe as a whole. The people feel that through the predominance of the Jekri Sub-tribe, their laws and customs are ignored, and those of the Jekris acted upon. It will be proposed that this Appeal Court shall not have jurisdiction over the Olomu clan, or even the Sobo-Sub-tribe.

 

OATHS

 

Witnesses were sworn on juju at the instance of the complainant or defendant only. Otherwise, testimony was given unsworn. The juju used would be one agreed upon by both parties to the case.

 

ORDEAL

 

Where a grave doubt lay in the mind of the court as to the veracity of a witness, where the issue involved was of a serious nature and it was found difficult to give a decision, recourse was had to ordeal. The party on whom the onus of proof lay, or whose testimony was doubted had to undergo one of the ordeals set forth below:

 

[a]    The lobe of the ear was rubbed with medicine and a needle was thrust through it, If the needle penetrated easily, the victim was adjudged to have vindicated himself.

 

[b]    The man had to pick cowries out of a pot of boiling water. If he sustained no burns, he successfully passed the ordeal.

 

[c]    The feather quill of a species of water-bird was thrust through the tongue. He as in (a) easy penetration passed the ordeal

 

[d]    In cases of witchcraft, the accused witch was either taken to the Eni or Usere lake juju, where the proven witch was drowned or had to undergo trial by sass-wood, where the guilty person died by poison.

 

From the above system, it can be seen that through the threat of juju swearing and trial by ordeal hanging as a threat over them, litigants were persuaded that it was wiser to tell the truth, and it is asserted that perjury was very much the exceptions rather than the rule. This contrasts very forcibly against the widespread perjury that obtains nowadays in the Native Courts.

 

SUMMONING WITNESSES: ETC

 

 

Councils were conveyed at the instance of the Council Otota, previous instructed by the Head Okpaku. Through the medium of the Awowo, the Ikor secured the attendance of principal parties in a case, but the attendance of witnesses was the responsibility of the principal party whose witnesses they were. Refusal of a witness to attend and give evidence on behalf of a principal did not result in forced attendance thus in many cases a witness had to be given presents to induce him to testify to his knowledge of a dispute.

 

COWRY –CURRENCY

 

In this section, fines have in most cases been computed from the old cowry transactions that obtained before standard currency was introduced. The table set and below gives the meanings and present day values of the amounts in cowries:

 

Amount in

 cowries

Literal meaning

Meaning in English

Equivalent

 

 

Igbo

 

 

Handful or bag of Cowries

 

£.10

 

Igbire

 

Igbo-ive

 

The handfuls of Cowries

 

£1

 

Igbiyirin

 

Igbo-Iyorin

 

Two handful of Cowries

 

£2.10

 

Igbuje

 

Igho-Uje

 

Twenty handful of Cowries

 

£10

 

Igbujiwe

 

Igho-Ujuve

 

Forty handful of Cowries

 

£20.0

 

Gboikwe

 

 

Half bag of Cowries

 

£10.50

 

Igbiyorin-Gbikwe

 

Igho-Iyorin-Gbikwe

 

Five and half bags

 

£2.15

 

MODERN JUDICIAL SYSTEM

 

Up to the year 1900, European influence had not extended to the Olomu clan to any extent, but with the establishment of the Native Court at Gbogidi in that year, and later at Okpari in 1901, a new judicial system came into being. All judicial powers previously exercised by the clan and Village Group Councils were transferred to the Native Court. The members of which although in theory the real judicial Heads or nominees of the judicial Heads of the community were in many cases obscure individuals, who were willing to take the risk under the new control, as they had little to lose and all to gain. From 1901 until 1914, the Native Court sat with the District officer as Permanent President and in his absence at the court members acted for him. Thus began the office of “Vice President” and in his absence one of the court members acted for him. In 1914, the Native Court Ordinance was introduced, which crystallized the working of the Native Court system. The Native Authority Ordinance finally by gazetting these Native Courts as Native Authorities for their judicial and executively. The District officer ceased to sit as President, although the term “Vice President survived.

 

HISTORY

 

The Okpari Native Council formed in 1901 was opened by Major Copland Crawford, District Officer and a Jekri from Gbogidi, Eyube by name - the man that gives the Jekri name Ajayagbe to the Agbudu area – was a political agent for the area. Until 1907, the Okpari Native Court had judicial jurisdiction over the Olomu, Ughelle, Agbassah, Iyede, Uwerun and Ewu clan areas but later on in 1907, these were given their own native courts.

 

CONSTITUTION

 

The Okpari Native Court is of “C” grade and has 12 members on its panel, one of whom presented the Jeremi town of Ajorife, which is at present included on the court area. The clan court Warrant rectifies this mistake. The other members are all of the Olomu clan and represent Olomu village groups. Three court members, Presided over by a Vice President, constitutes the tribunal at a court sitting. The members take their places on the tribunal in rotation, each set of 4 sitting for one month at a time. There is native court scribe, who does duty with the Okpari and Ughelle courts. He is not a native of either area. The Court Messengers are all of the Sobo sub-tribe, but not of the Olomu clan. They wear the distinctive uniform of the Warri Native Administration.

 

POPULARITY

 

It has been seen that the unrest in 1927 showed the measure of unpopularity enjoyed by the Native courts, and the reasons for this unpopularity. At the same time it must be remembered that while the system was never popular with the generation which was old enough to compare it with the former native organization, yet it has enjoyed a measure of popularity with the younger generation, who were brought up to the new system. The professional litigant and witness thrive on the system, a fact which condemns it.

 

THE COURT MEMBERS

 

The history sheets of the court members are to be found at the end of the report. It will be seen that 7 of the 11 court members are by Native custom full members of their Village Group Councils and therefore of the Clan Council. The remaining 4 being Ahomorins are demi-members and actually listed in the Clan Warrant. These men will have to revert gracefully to their true position in the clan and attain to Councillors rank by the ordinary accepted path. As a whole, these members are above the average set of Native court members, in intelligence and a conception of their duties and the Okpari Native court has not, usually been regarded as a troublesome or useless one. The fate of the present native court is dealt with in the succeeding sections.

 

PROPOSALS FOR THE FUTURE

 

We have seen under section 1 of this report that the Olomu clan possessed a proper judicial system, with a species of criminal and civil code. The Councils that wielded the executive power also dispensed justice. It is therefore proposed to use these Councils in framing proposals for future judicial administration and this gives us the clan and the Village Group Councils with which to work.

 

THE VILLAGE GROUP COUNCILS

 

It IS PROPOSED THAT THE Village Group Councils as listed in the clan court Warrant shall be given powers of:

 

[a]    An examining Magistrate i.e to investigate preliminary cases which would actually be heard and decided in the Clan Court.

 

[b]    To hear and decide minor cases of Pilfering, assault, slander, and all matrimonial cases; cases of adultery and debts etc Confined to the Village Group.

 

*    It is proposed that the hearing fees shall be £4 in all cases, £2 of which reverts to Native Administration revenue and £2 to the Village Council.

 

*    It is further proposed that no proper scribes or uninformed court messenger be used by these tribunals. Their own uniformed Ikor should suffice for the latter, and where a record is desired for a council decision, the clan court scribe will note it in a record book devoted solely to Village Council decisions at the instance of the Council Otota.

 

*    It is proposed that all village Group Councils shall be given abridged “D” grade powers i.e. to try criminal cases which can be adequately punished by imprisonment for one month or a fine of £5 or both, and in civil matters, with the exception of land disputes, all action in which the debt demanded or damages do not exceed £25.

 

PROCEDURE

 

In the case of imprisonment, the sentence should be made out by warrant at the clan courts and countersigned by the President or vice President. In the case of a fine, the Otota or Senior Ukor of the Village Group should conduct the individual to the clan court to pay his fine. In the case of an order for compensation for payment of debt, damages or dowry by a certain time, the clan court should similarly be informed, the scribe entering the order in village council matters. No notes of evidence of any of these cases shall be taken. The scribe will also have a cash book devoted solely to village council monetary transactions.

 

AUTHORITY

 

The whole of the village Group Council are included in the clan warrant and their powers are also included. They are treated as a junior branch of the clan court and not as separate courts, not withstanding their power under warrant.

 

APPEALS ETC

 

Where a case brought before a village group council perplexes them, the council can always commit the case to the clan court. Cases of a more serious nature, and beyond their jurisdiction should be similarly treated after they, if they wish have conducted a preliminary investigation into the matter as a help to the clan court.

 

All appeals from the Village Group Councils lie at the clan court. In all these cases, the village group council would be expected to give its views and local knowledge on a case through the medium of its Otota; where parties to a case come from different village groups, jurisdiction as a general rule would lie with the village group council of the defendant. In case of dispute as to venue, the clan court would deal with it. All inter-village group land cases will be taken by the clan council. Seldom does the situation arise where two parties of the same village group dispute over land. The clan court would also always adjudicate here, taking the expert advice of the village group council concerned.

 

THE CLAN COURT

 

The clan court, it is proposed shall consist of exactly the same body as that which comprises the clan council. The Owhorode and the Okareworo shall be president and vice president of the court respectively and their executive salaries cover both their executive and judicial work. In addition, they receive their share of their own village group council salaries for judicial and executive work. The village group councils comprising the clan council receive their executive and judicial salaries from the 10% gross tax for the former, and a similar amount for the latter. It has been found that the old sitting fees nearly always approximate the 10% of the gross tax for the area and this seems a fair way, therefore, paying village group councils of varying sizes and responsibility. The method of payment has been outlined earlier.

 

CONSTITUTION

 

As has been said before, the clan judicial council is a large body consisting of no fewer than 18 members, but only a nucleus of this members would attend council meetings and as constitution is strictly in accordance with native custom, it is proposed to leave it as it is. In any case with a such a representative body on the council, any decision or punishments should be at least, well thought out and probably very fair.

 

 

JURISDICTION

 

It is proposed that the clan judicial council be constituted as a “C” grade court, but with unlimited powers to hear land cases where both parties are of the clan. It should have jurisdiction over the Olomu clan and in a case where the parties are of different clans, it would, generally speaking, be competent to determine such where the defendant was of the Olomu clan. For the present it is proposed that appeals from the clan court only lies with the district officer. The Warri appeal court will have no jurisdiction whatsoever in the Olomu clan.

 

CLAN COURT STAFF

 

 

A scribe will be at the disposal of the clan court and he should be a member of the clan. This scribe will carry out native court clerical duties under the orders of the clan council. He will assist in clerical work on the executive side when required. There will be, in addition to two Ikor for the executive council, two more Ikor attached to the judicial council. These Ikor should also be of the clan and will be appointed preferably from among the Senior Ikor of the village group councils. The salaries laid down for the staff allow for a junior clerk and place him and the messengers in their true junior perspective. As has been stated earlier, their salaries will be paid to them by the clan executive council.

 

COURT BUILDING

 

 

The proposed clan executive council hall is proposed to be also as the clan court. The situation is central and away from any particular village group , although close to Umolo. It is not proposed to build court messengers sides or clerk’s house, thus eliminating any idea of barracks. These employees will have to find their own quarters in Umolo. A small link up will have to be built and one Ukor will have to be on duty every night at the council hall. Later, if it is found necessary for Councillors whose villages are some distance away, a “guest house” can be erected on the site also.

 

 

UNIFORM

 

 

Whether the Ikor are to continue wearing uniform or not is a moot question. It is obvious that they must have some badge of authority. The old established Native Administrations in Nigeria all have their uniformed messengers, and are ………. do better than follow their lead    Provision in any case, has been allowed for uniform in the ………..

 

COST OF PROPOSED JUDICIAL SYSTEM

 

REVENUE

 

 The total revenue for the clan from oil sources is set down.

 

 

EXPENDITURE

 

Item

Details of Expenditure

Estimates

 

1

 

President Clan Court (The Owhorode)

 

Salary Unit Head

2

The Vice President of Clan Court

   

3

Judicial salaries to village group councils( an equal amount to the 10% of gross tax received)

£48.10

4

The court scribe at £30.6

£30.10

5

One Senior Ukor at £15, one Ukor at £12

£27.0

6

Uniform for 4 Ikor(including 2 council Ikor)

£12.0

7

Remission of fees and fines

£5.0

8

Maintenance and transport of witnesses

£3.0

 

 

Total Judicial

 

£125.0

 

Reaching these estimates in conjunction with those under “Cost of proposed administration”, the following figures show the relation between total revenue and expenditure:

 

Total revenue (including special grant)   =      £6425.0

Cost of proposed administration             =      £  517.5

Cost of proposed judicial system            =      £  125.0

 

Total expenditure                                    =      £  642.5

 

COMMENTARY ON JUDICIAL EXPENDITURE

 

The proposed salaries of the President and Vice President of clan court are inclusive ones for all duties, with regard to the judicial salaries for village group councils; it is found that the advocated system of payment of a sum equal to the 10% gross tax corresponds approximately to payment on the old sitting fees system. With such a large judicial council, the latter system would be impossible. The proposed young Olomu court scribe will replace the present Native Court scribe, thus removing another link with the old “barrack Native Court regime”

 

COMPARISON WITH EXISTING SYSTEM

 

REVENUE

 

Although the estimates for court fees and fines have been kept on the conservative side, yet it is thought that with greater popularity of the new judicial system such revenue will be increased. The total revenue from fees and fines for 1929 – 30 was £259. The estimates give a total figure of £250.

 

EXPENDITURE

 

The existing system gives the following figures of expenditure for 1929 – 30:

 

Item 3      Sitting fees                                              £  55.00

Item 4      Clerks salary (court share)                               £  47.00

Item 5      Court Messengers salaries                              £107.00

Item 6      Uniforms for court Messengers                       £    9.102

Item 7      Remission of fees and fines                           0.00

Item 8      Maintenance and Transport of witnesses              0.00

 

                Total                                                                £218.152

 

Against this, the total cost of the proposed system is £145.

 

TRADE AND CURRENCY

 

MARKETS

 

There is no very large market in the clan area of anything approaching of the size of the kakpamre market, but there are two medium sized markets in Okpari and Okpavore and two small ones at Umolo and Agbon. The area is surrounded by large markets, to which the clan goes for trading purposes; thus rendering unnecessary a very large market for the clan. These outside markets are at kakpamre, Jeremi, Uwerun, Owe and Kiagbodo. The Okpari market has semi-permanent sheds built by the Warri Native Administration and a rent of it per month is charged for the occupation of each shed.

 

The revenue on market rents for the market was £9.12 for the year 1929 – 30. The sheds were erected in December 1929. These sheds comprising 48 stalls in all are occupied. The space at disposal affords no room for expansion but there has been no desire for further building so far, neither has the other clan markets asked for similar buildings.

 

GOODS SOLD

 

The goods sold in the market consist of native food stuffs and commodities and articles previously bought in bulk at European factories. A comparative list of goods offered for sale, with their approximate prices is appended to this section. It is asserted that dried monkeys are offered for sale in these markets, although the writer has never seen such a “luxury”.

 

BARTER

 

Practically all transactions in the market are of the cash variety, but there is one exception where Ijo people expose for sale crayfish, dried prawns and dried fish. They are ready to exchange these for farina and starch, commodities difficult to obtain in their own country. Very often, these Ijo people will conduct such barter on a large scale and take the starch and farina to their own people to sell to them at a handsome profit.

 

TRADE ROUTES AND OLUME OF TRADE

 

The main trade route is the Okpari River, where all the European trading stations are located. A very large volume of trade in palm-oil and kernels is carried by this route, as well as large intra clan traffic in food stuffs. The main water outlet from the Kakpamre market enters the Okpari river at Okpari and this tributary contributes in no small measure to the trade carrying as it does all the market canoe traffic with it. The European firms at Okpari are therefore in a strategically sound position to “catch” most of this river traffic but there is a certain amount of inland trade carried by the clan village paths, that from Okpawore across to Akpere and Umolo furnishes an instance and much of the produce from Ogor and Iyede finds its way in this direction. Under the subject, “European Firms”, can be seen how these routes are affecting trade policy. The Divisional map shows that the Okpari area is practically the geographical and route centre of the Warri Native Administration area, and to all intents and purposes of the whole division. It is therefore in touch with all parts and its trade is therefore up-to-date.

 

VISITING TRADERS

 

The Hausa, Yoruba, Ijo, and Ibo are to be seen in the clan area plying their particular trades, and these people, with the exception of the Ibo, pass through the area on prolonged trading tours. The Hausa is to be seen any day with a roll of native cloth on his head, and Hausa-made trinkets lfor women. He does not generally install himself for long in a market, but seems to derive a satisfactory livelihood from his line in trading. The Yoruba favours trading in European made goods and is inclined more to stay in market centres. Two Yorubas are more or less permanent stall holders in the Okpari market. The Ijos trade in fish, but confines himself to canoe traffic. The Ibo represented by the Awka blacksmith will establish himself on the main street of a village, plying his craft in a crude shelter, and selling from there. He will always send assistants to surrounding markets to expose his wares for sale.

 

EUROPEAN FIRMS

 

Until the end of April 1930, there were three branches of European firms in the Olomu area, all on the Okpari River. Facing the Kakpamre creek was that of the Niger Company and John Holt Company, both sites being separated by the Native Court Compound and the market, and some 400 yards down the stream on the opposite bank was a branch of the African and Eastern Trade Corporation with the merger of the first and last named firms into United African Limited, both factories have been in charge by one European, while another European is in charge of John Holt and Company factory. It is evident that these European firms are alive to the responsibilities offered in this area, as in may 1930.

 

Messrs Le Bars (West African) Limited applied and have been granted provisional immediate occupation for sites for “factories” at Otuedo a little way up the Kakpamre creek, and at Umolo waterside. As a reply to this, Messrs the United African Company have applied for sites also at those two places, both sites adjoining those at the above mentioned firm. Messrs John Holt and Company have as yet …….. evinced or announced ……… no activity in this direction. Thus, there will be no less than seven European firms stretched along the waterside from Otuedo to Umolo. Whether the area warrants such faith remains to be seen.

 

 

METHODS OF TRADING

 

Trading in this area is practically all in the hands of middlemen, who attend the local markets and buy oil and kernels in small lots and finally offer the accumulated of those lots for sale to the factories. It is difficult to see how this system can be avoided. It appears to the small retailer as saving them the journey to the factory and also in a certain measure to the firms who thus deal with fewer and more influential customers and yet to know their idiosyncrasies the better.

 

 

PRICES FOR PRODUCE AND ARTICLES SOLD

 

The prices paid for the main products i.e. palm oil and palm kernels, fluctuate largely but the trend has of late been due to depression, the average prices obtaining at present being £11.15 per ton for palm oils and £7.76 per ton for palm kernels against an average of £23 per ton and £13.10 per ton respectively for these products 3 years ago.

 

The Principal Articles sold in the factolries are Clothes, Tobacco, Gari, Salt, Hard Biscuits, Hardware and Manufacturers articles of attire in cotton and silk. Print clothes – cotton – sell at from £6 to £12 per six yards. Silk Madras sells at from £12 to £25 per piece of 8 yards. Tobacco sells at 6d per head. Gin sells at 5/6d per bottle. Salt sells at 1/6d to 3/2d per bag according to weight, the latter being of 40ibs. Native traders are no longer satisfied with being paid for produce in kind. They prefer to take cash and to pick and choose as to where they will take their purchasing custom. Trade has to a certain extent been affected by the recent ‘combines” of European firms – whether or not those combines have been indirectly responsible for temporary trade depression is a moot point and one which it is not here proposed to be discussed.

 

 





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