The Administration of justice In Esanland

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The Administration of justice began at the village level with the Eiders’ Council. In this ancient judiciary system, the Edion had the power to try and award appropriate punishments in practically all disputes and crimes  except for capital offenses like murder, evils of witchcraft and land disputes which were passed up to the Onojie in Eguare for decision, where he was powerful or if he was a weak ruler, to the formidable INOTU.

Usually the Edion held their meeting at the Okoughele, at the centre of the village square; here the crime was investigated and all those concerned were given a fair hearing. This judicial system hinged mainly on evidence rather than proof and it was the plaintiff and the defendant who themselves would present their cases without requiring the services of any smart alee or modern day lawyer who would fabricate all sorts of gimmick to exonerate his clients. The Edion then moved away to confer (IYI UMA), and on their return their spokesman gave their decision. Sometimes instead of the Edion getting up they could delegate about four of themselves to go and FE OLE GHE (Go and look into the matter); these men would return and su1niit a recommended decision. The final decision might he followed by a fine (Oko) or seizure of a goat or the guilty person might be ordered to wear on a given juju to convince the elders of his innocence. Special crimes had special ways of dealing with them; prescribed punishments also differed.

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