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SEIZURES IN ESAN NATIVE LAW AND CUSTOM

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(a) Seizure of fowls: This was the common punishment for an Ebonughele who failed to turn up for street sweeping, cleaning inter-village paths. Or any villager who failed to turn up for communal labour. In the evening he would go to the head of his age grade and if his reasons and apology were genuine, he might be forgiven and the fowl returned. If not he might redeem the seized fowl which might belong to anybody in his Uelen or family compound, with the payment of a small monetary fine not necessarily equivalent to costs of a fowl. If he was too proud to go and beg, the fowl was sold and any amount realized from the sale was shared by his age grade. This (seizure of a fowl) was the limit of Egbonughele

(b) Seizure of Goats: This was the common punishment for the more serious of the lesser crimes, and was inflicted only by the Edion. Adultery was punished by the guilty man paying a fine of a goat which was slaughtered by the Egbele at the ancestral shrine. Still more serious crimes like beating of one’s parent, setting fire to one’s family house in anger, attempted suicide, stealing of planted seed yams amongst members of the. Same family etc., were punished with seizure and killing of a goat against the offender even without a formal trial first. Since there was no trial, there was no appeal in such cases. In nearly all these cases the slaughtering of a goat was accompanied with a fine all together being termed ODEWE BII ELANMEN (A she-goat plus cowries worth in modern times 112/3K). In the olden days this was a hellish lot to rake together for this 112/3K.was equivalent twenty Ikiokho or 2,800 cowries!

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