Thursday, 3 April 2014

Institutions of Community Policing and Crime Control in Eleme


Institutions of Community Policing and Crime Control in Eleme


All towns and villages in Eleme have the same basic social structure that encourages the existence of agreeable human groups with specific social functions. These groups are responsible for policing the communities, maintaining peace and stability. The groups are:

S/N
INSTITUTION
DESCRIPTION
FUNCTION
1.
Oku O’tor
Family group made up of smaller units agreeing with kindred lines.
Settles minor disputes between members of the same family.
2.
Oku O’e
Extended family which owns a hall and maintains one shrine, known as Nsi Ejin
Settles disputes between members of the same family in matters of assault, stealing, boundaries, inheritance, adultery, witchcraft, invocation of juju, and other forms of misdemeanor. 
3.
Oku Omu
Age grade to which all males belong
Settles disputes between people of the same age group resulting to assault, slander, issue of threat, invocation of juju, and other matrimonial cases.
4.
Egbara Eta
Uninitiated adult  men below Oku Ekpo
They promote communal work, security, control social decay, and perform traditional entertainment such as: wrestling, dancing, and singing.
5.
Mba Eta
Organization of Women selected on age and representative basis
Regulates the activities of women; ensures high morality and discipline among women.
6.
Ejin
These are Ancestral Spirits – that is, spirits of all who have lived and died. They are known as Oku Ejin and dwell in a separate spiritual kingdom known as Eta Ejin.
They exercise spiritual power and authority and are believed to be ever watchful, powerful and able to help or punish any person. They communicate through dreams and their feelings merely conjectured. They administer divine justice by blessing the good and punishing the bad. And since they cannot be seen or heard, there is always no appeal against the decisions of Oku Ejin.
 
 
7.
Ejor
These are deities or gods such as Ejilee, Onura, Ebaajor, Mbie, Ejamaaejor Ogbenwata, Ndorwa, Osarobinmkpa and others. They are known as Oku Ejor and dwell in a separate spiritual kingdom known as Eta Ejor. They are believed to be somehow senior and superior to Oku Ejin.
They act as agents to Obari (God). They communicate directly through the human consciousness of the Priest or Medium. In this way they reveal secrets, prescribe remedies or answer questions put to them, and administer divine justice.
 
8.
Oku Eta
The Traditional Ruler (Oneh Eh Eta) and his elders (Oku Ekpo)
They constitute Oweboete and adjudicate in disputes between two or more persons or between two families concerning land tenure, divorce, custody of children, stealing, boundaries, inheritance, adultery, witchcraft, invocation of juju, defamation of character, rape, elopement, and so on.
9.
Oku Nkporon
Group of Initiated men with the Highest Judicial Powers and Authority.
They constitute Owenkporon and adjudicate in more serious matters requiring urgent or detailed investigation such as murder, witchcraft, inheritance, land tenure, divorce, custody of children, stealing, boundaries, adultery, right of burial, invocation of juju, rape, and so on at the appropriate levels of the society. 
10.
Oku Nyoa
Oku Nyoa are group of initiated elders led by Onenkiken (Land Priest/Traditional Prime Minister). Nkiken (Earth-Spirit) is the only Deity that directly relates to the foundation of a community or village and its protection. It is the mother that sustains all living things and receives all of them back to its stomach. The position is hereditary and it is confined to the lineage or family of the original founder of the community.
One Nkiken( Land Priest and Leader of Oku Nyoa) exercises spiritual and administrative powers. He performs Ajija ritual for cleansing of Pregnant but unmarried girls and Owaraekpaa Osila (first daughter ritual). He appoints and installs Oneh Eh Eta on the active advice of Oku Nkporon; receives and performs the duties of Oneh Eh Eta if One Eh Eta is found guilty of gross misconduct or upon demise of an incumbent, until a successor is appointed and installed. He ensures that things are done in accordance with custom and tradition. He commands the respect of the gods in the community.    

Culled from the book, “Community Policing and Crime Control in Pre-Colonial Eleme: Issues and Perspectives” by Osaro Ollorwi.

 

The existence of these groups helps to solve the problems of crime and criminality in the society. They help maintain law and order. They control behavior in society. They are the pivots upon which the community revolves. They solve social decay and render communal services. These institutions maintain the center of gravity in all aspects of human relations and dealings. But, are these institutions still relevant in the modern Eleme? Why are they not as active as they used to be?  How comes the modern legal system is bent on reducing their powers and rendering them moribund? Will the society be better for it, if these institutions are revitalized, empowered and encouraged to participate actively in community policing? Your answers, comments, observations, suggestions and updates are very necessary.

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