It was celebration galore in Tere-Ama Community, Port Harcourt Local Government Area on Sunday, following the ruling on a customary suit between Amiejubodiema Family and Somiari House, all of Ogoloma Community, Okrika, over the tussle for Somiari-Ama ancient land.
The landmark judgment which was delivered on the 14th of November, 2019 by the Ogoloma Council of Chiefs and jointly signed by its Chairman, Alabo Professor R.S. Jamabo-Owu and Secretary, Chief L.T.I.I. Alalibo ruled among others that Somiari-Ama was founded by late Pa Amiejubodiema Somiari and thus gave his direct descendants the right of ownership of his land.
Copy of the customary judgment which was made available to journalists, revealed that a total of thirteen members of the Ogoloma Council of Chiefs gave vent to the judgment which had the Amiejubodiema Family comprising Chief (Barr) Tamunokuro A. Somiari, Elder Sonari Somiari and Emmanuel I. Somiari as Plaintiffs while Somiari House comprising Chief Peter Inibiapuseleari, Happiness Koko, Innocent Fibika, Solomon Fibika, Ibisiki Ade Somiari, Richard Ade Somiari and Tamunotonye Abbey-Kalio stood as defendants.
Elated over the favorable ruling which, according to the Plaintiffs has laid to rest over 30 years of tussle for ownership of the ancient land, the victorious Amiejubodiema Family took to the Assemblies of God Church, Tere-Ama where a special Thanksgiving Service was organized in their honour.
Stressing the importance of thanksgiving as panacea for more blessings from God, the officiating priest, Rev Eli Amamina charged Christians to behave like the wise leper recorded in Luke 17:11-19 who amongst his lot, returned to thank the priest for his healing.
While praying for peace, unity and love amongst all indigenes of the Somiari-Ama, Rev. Amamina charged Chief (Barr) Tamunokuro A. Somiari as Chief of the community to rule with the fear of God, adding that when the righteous is on the throne, the people would rejoice.
The pastor also enjoined Chief Somiari to run an all inclusive administration where all facets of the people would be carried along.
At the testimony time, the chief celebrant, High Chief Tamunokuro A. Somiari extolled the sterling virtues of Pa Amiejubodiema Somiari as the first Warrant Chief in Okrika clan in 1896, adding that his descendants are proud to have such a man as progenitor.
“We are also proud that the first headmaster in Okrika land is our progenitor. That is the family we are celebrating today and we are proud to come from that family”, he said.
The lawyer who is the Emiejubodie 1 and natural ruler of Amiejubodiema Somiari-Ama, Port Harcourt disclosed that the tussle for the ownership of Somiari-Ama has spanned 30 years, a period which according to him, saw the demise of many of their forebears without getting justice over ownership of their ancestral land.
He gave kudos to the Ogoloma Council of Chiefs for the wisdom in settling the dispute even as he thanked the Assemblies of God Church for their prayers and steadfastness, adding that the battle had not been an easy one both 'spiritually and physically'.
Addressing journalists after a reception ceremony at his palace, a shouting distance from the Assemblies of God Church, Tere-Ama, the Somiari-Ama ruler gave the synopsis of issues in contention.
“For thirty years, the ownership of Somiari-Ama had been an issue. Our great grandfather named Chief Amiejubodie Mansel Somiari was the founder and owner of Amiejubodie Somiari-Ama. He established this community in 1893 and got his Warrant in 1896 from the then British colonial masters. In our native Okrika, he was the chief judge or Chairman of Council of Chiefs of then colonial district in Degema.
“After some years of founding the community, he brought in some of his relatives and friends and they have been living peacefully ever since until a period when the man died and his last son named Humphrey in the early 70s made attempts to change the name to Somiari-Ama but he vehemently kicked against it. The name given to him as documented in the 1933 Agreement is Amiejubodie-Ama but the other brothers tried to change the name and he refused.
“Their plot was to use the name of their father, Somiari to suggest that the land belonged to all of them, but we said no”, High Chief Somiari narrated, explaining that that had been the bone of contention until the landmark judgment rendered by the Ogoloma Council of Chiefs.
He described the document as equivalent to a court judgment as according to him, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria validates customary judgments from traditional rulers.