HARD WORDS FOR SATAN: A Review of Nengi Josef Owei (Ilagha’s) “Epistle to Maduabebe” – By Onyedi Boniface Ossai

nengi1Nengi Josef Owei (Ilagha), award-winning Nigerian Poet, Frontline Journalist and culture activist, has been in Prison since Dec 14, 2015, in Okirika, Rivers state. His crime? He wrote a book titled: EPISTLE TO MADUABEBE, which did not go down well with some ‘important folks’ in his home town, Nembe, in Bayelsa state. So they slammed charges against him and then swooped down on him and bundled the Poet and Journalist to jail…for writing a book. He is likely to spend Xmas in PRISON!!! This is a clarion call to all writers, Journalists, lovers of Art, Literature, creative writing…men and women of good conscience reading this right now, to PLEASE SPREAD THE NEWS until it gets to the ears of his oppressors and Nengi is released from Prison as soon as possible…

The review of the Book is published below.

nengiHARD WORDS FOR SATAN: A Review of Nengi Josef Owei (Ilagha’s) “Epistle to Maduabebe” – By Onyedi Boniface Ossai

Epistle To Maduabebe is a revelation. It is one piece of literary adventure by Nengi Josef Owei (Ilagha) that is bound to stand out as an instrument of freedom for so many people that have remained dumb in society, even when they grovel under the yoke of poverty and enslavement. From the first word, the author grips the reader and refuses to let go until we are compelled to reason together.

The book is an exercise in courage, a platform for articulating the truth as a matter of course. Well worded on every page, the content is as revealing as it is baffling. Like a bull on rampage, the author charges forward and leaves no stone unturned along his path. If this epistle seeks to level the Goliaths of our time, then the goal is fully achieved in one fell swoop.

Nengi Josef Owei (Ilagha) hails from the creeks of the Niger Delta, precisely Nembe, the small brave city-state. He competently demonstrates that he knows the story of neglect in his territory like the back of his hand, to say nothing of the source of that neglect. A passionate writer, an editor per excellence, a master of the written word with a knack for adhering to the rules of constructive language use, he comes across as honest, tough, inspired and uncompromising.

These are the qualities that have guided him even as he explodes on the satanic forces that hold our world in thrall, as epitomized by Seiton (the real name for Satan in the language of Eden) masquerading as Maduabebe. The consummate author of this piece of work demystifies the credentials behind Dr Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru, and throws a blinding light on the condemnable acts of the impostor king who has visibly reduced the worth of everyday living in the floating island, and by extension all around Bayelsa State.

Clearly, the author has done his homework well. With telling powers of research, he delves into the darkest side of his subject and comes up with details that have so far been hidden about the men who pretend to be our leaders. He proves convincingly that Maduabebe usurped the throne in his domain, for no well-meaning king who has the interest of his people at heart would lock up fellow contenders if he really sets out to serve.

By all accounts, Maduabebe and his surrogate governor, Timipre Sylva, have upturned all the values of decent living in present-day Bayelsa, and left the populace comatose. In spite of his juicy tenure in many high-flying government positions, Maduabebe has obviously failed to contribute to the development of his primary constituency in real terms.

For indeed, in his capacity as Nigeria’s first Chief Geologist, the power equation in Nigeria today could have been more favourable to the people of the south, if Dr Edmund Daukoru had held his grounds and acted in the largest possible interest of his people. He failed to do so. He settled for crumbs on the master’s table, and that is why the Niger Delta region is in its present state of gross underdevelopment. Rather than lead the fight against exploitation and degradation of the environment from the beginning, the man became the primary enemy of progress, opting instead to sit as a small-minded tyrant championing petty causes.

The book reveals that, as a self-serving potentate, Maduabebe is excellent at cutting off voices of dissent, coveting and cornering every community project, and paying bandits to sustain his false sense of honour. In perpetrating the worst elements of internal colonialism, Seiton sees himself as a god, readily abusing and subverting age-long traditions and common norms. This is the shameful reality that the author seeks to reverse.

Indeed, the book gives several graphic accounts of abuse of state power, and underlines the sheer gubernatorial impunity at work in Government House, Yenagoa, (when Timipre Sylva heldsawy) to say nothing of the reign of swindlers in government circles. The hard-nosed analysis of Epistle To Maduabebe goes to prove that Bayelsa State lies prostrate, groaning in the throes of underdevelopment, no thanks to an evil bond between a greedy king in search of worshippers and a foggy-minded governor (Timipre Sylva) who does not know the first thing about leaving a worthwhile legacy.

The author garnishes his pages with highly poetic images cast both in English and in his primeval Nembe language. Yet, even a non-Ijaw reader can grapple with the facts easily as the author does well to interpret the import of his message for quick understanding at every turn. So now we know, for instance, that Maduebebe is another name for the serpent which represents Satan.

Each of the twelve chapters of the book ends with twelve posers directed at Dr Daukoru, questions which bring life to the mind of the reader, and agony to the obvious culprit. In the end, these are real questions that social crusaders in Nigeria have failed to ask, since the Halliburton scandal broke out. Ultimately, this 153-page epistolary tirade trained at the self-imposed Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom and former Petroleum Minister, should take its primary place in the home of every lover of truth.

The fact remains that Nembe has been left stagnant in the back waters of development, in spite of her rich hydrocarbon deposits. The present generation of sons and daughters of Nembe origin, and Bayelsa at large, should hold both Chief Timipre Sylva and his mentor uncle, Dr Edmund Daukoru, to ransom while seeking explanations as to why the state is worse off under their command than they met it, in spite of all their posturing.

In the body of this lengthy epistle are issues to which we must all come awake, and now is the time to answer the clarion call. Now is the time to unmask all those who have robbed our nation hollow. This book is not an idle campaign of calumny. This book embodies genuine queries that demand urgent responses. Failure to provide answers can only attract the full measure of divine condemnation which, as the pundit has rightly predicted, will come like hailstones of judgment to shatter the head of the stubborn serpent.

In very pointed language, Mingi Nengi XII speaks of an austere Judgment Day for the perpetrators of evil and wickedness in the land, just as the spirit of Jesus Christ is predicted to return unannounced, among other things, to confront the highest powers in the land, to bring principalities under foot, and to judge the living and the dead.

Epistle To Maduabebe has earned its author a rare place in world history and literature. In communicating his deepest feelings to his readers without compunction, and in articulating the truth that everyone knows but cannot say, the poet from the Niger Delta swamp proves his indomitable prowess with words.

Nengi Josef Owei (Ilagha) is a gift of conscience to Bayelsa State, the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole. With this work, he achieves an iconic literary status that cannot be disputed. He deserves all the celebration he can get.


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One thought on “HARD WORDS FOR SATAN: A Review of Nengi Josef Owei (Ilagha’s) “Epistle to Maduabebe” – By Onyedi Boniface Ossai


    1. December 10, 2008: First serialization of Epistle to Maduabebe in the Waves Newspapers
    2. 2009: Publication of the book, Epistle to Maduabebe
    3. March, 2009 : Libellous publications by, Nengi Ilagha, Olu Coker, and Dr. Bio Kombo simultaneously in the Waves tabloid of which Nengi Ilagha was the publisher.
    4. 5th January, 2010. : Letter of apology from the leadership of the Nengi Ilagha family, under the signatures of Dr. M. I Godwin-Egein ( a senior lecturer at UNIPORT) , and Engr. Fakuma Ilagha ( a major contractor to the Bayelsa State Government and immediate younger brother to Nengi Ilagha), Mr S. S Ekegha( a paternal uncle to Nengi Ilagha[see attached ]
    5. 16th January, 2010: A resolution by the Nembe Chiefs Council was passed, authorising a Committee of all sectors of the Community ( Chiefs, Deputies, Elders, Opuasawo, Youths and Women) to investigate the offensive publications by Nengi Ilagha (and others), and recommend appropriate action.
    6. 10TH MARCH, 2010: An online libellous statement by Nengi Ilagha on the SAHARA REPORTERS website.
    7. 2nd August, 2010.: Legal actions was instituted by His Eminence’s Counsel against Nengi Ilagha, following total lack of cooperation by Nengi with all mediation efforts.
    8. August, 2010 – 17th June, 2014): Adjournments and repeated substituted services to Nengi Ilagha in the Izon Link Newspaper as by order of the Court, all paid for by the plaintiff
    9. June, 2011: Feedback from Mr. Sata Owugha that his attempts to persuade Nengi Ilagha to apologise for his actions ( or give reasons why not) were rebuffed.
    10. 2012: Continuation of the libel in a second book, One more Epistle to Maduabebe, while the libel suit was in progress, a clear demonstration of contempt of court and disrespect for constituted authority.
    11. April, 2012: A mediatory visit to His Eminence by Bishop Oruwori (Head of the Ogbia Diocese –Anglican Church), Prof Chief E. J Alagoa Kala Joe ( a renowned historian, both close blood relations of Nengi Ilagha), they offered apologies on behalf of Nengi Ilagha and promised to get him to retract his distasteful, libellous and utterly unprovoked attacks on His Eminence, King Daukoru.
    12. Early, 2013: Olu Coker passed away
    13. 27th March, 2013: Judgement was granted with resultant orders in favour of His Eminence, and promptly published in the Izon Links Newspaper.
    14. 17th June, 2014. : Application for enforcement of the judgement order.
    15. 16th December, 2014: Chief Judge of Bayelsa State made an order commuting Nengi Ilagha to Okaka Prison for disobeying the terms of the judgement order of 27th March, 2013.
    16. 11th December 2015: Nengi Ilagha remanded for aggravated contempt of the High Court of Bayelsa State.

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