By Ingram Osigwe

Having lived a fulfilled and Christian life and passed on at the ripe age of 88, “a celebration of life” is arguably the fitting description of the rites of passage for the late Patriarch of the Igbonacho family, Ichie (Sir) Innocent Igbonacho(Ichie Ogbenwa 1 of Amucha) as the Igbonachos get set to bid him a glorious farewell. 

Until his demise, Ichie Igbonacho was the traditional Prime Minister of the Amucha ancient kingdom, Njaba local government area of Imo State.

An industrialist, business mogul and property developer, Ichie (Sir) Innocent Emenike Igbonacho was born in 1935 to the family of the late Pa Isaac Esenwunne Igbonacho and the late Mama Angeline Akuebionwu Igbonacho of Amorji Umuokwara Amucha-Ebeise in Njaba LGA of Imo State. He was the first son of nine children.

The late patriarch of the Igbonacho family was one of the few children in his days who had the privilege of primary school education, then graded as “Standard“. 

Thus the young Igbonacho attended Native Authority School (NA) Amucha. On completion of Standard Five in 1953;  he traveled to Port Harcourt with his godfather, the late Ichie John Odunze (Omereoha 1 of Amucha Ancient Kingdom) to begin life as an apprentice trader.

He later, in 1956, relocated to Kano and continued with his apprenticeship under the tutelage of his late uncle Chief Lawrence Ekwebelem Igbonacho.

He eventually set up his own business in 1962 and in no time became extremely successful, purchasing his first property in 1966 at Timber Street mile 2 Diobu Port Harcourt Rivers State.

The Nigerian civil war, however, truncated his thriving business concerns in Kano, forcing him to Aba in 1970 at the end of the war.

At Aba, he started a plastic trading company called “PEJO” with his friends and brothers named Messrs Pius Ohaechesi, Josiah Ejiogu, and Gregory Oluoma. The name “PEJO” Plastics was an acronym coined from the names Pius, Emenike, Josiah, and Oluoma.

Ichie Ogbenwa was the Director of IDDO Plastics Industries Ltd Port Harcourt. Being a major distributor to Zenith Group of Companies in Kano, Lagos, and Port Harcourt, his associates highly appreciated him.

A philanthropist of note, the late Ichie Ogbenwa committed resources to train all his siblings and supported them in life. He also trained many people in the art of trading and other life endeavours.

He was a devoted Christian of the Catholic faith and 4th-degree Catholic Knights of Saint Mulumba (KSM).

He was a member of various Pious societies of the Catholic Church like the Holy Ghost Vocation Movements, Saint Joseph Christian Father CKC Aba, St Patrick Parish Christian Fathers Amucha, and Saint Teresa Catholic Station 1’st group men.

Ichie Igbonacho was sociable and took part in founding many social associations. He also led many such associations as the pioneer President. 

For example, he was the founder of “Saint Bottles” in 1968, which later metamorphosed into a noble social club named Ugo Youth Club of Nigeria.

He was the president of the club from 1970 till the day he passed away.

The late Ichie Igbonacho was also the 1st vice president of the Amucha Development Organization (ADO) from 1973 to 1981 under the leadership of the late Ugo Ichie Cyprian Duru (Akajiaku of Amucha Ancient Kingdom).

He was the chairman of Amucha Youth (Kano1) from 1988 till the day he was called to glory.

Similarly, the late Ichie Ogbenwa was a pioneer member of “Okaa” in Kano, which later transformed into the People’s Club of Nigeria International. He joined the club in 1965 and he also received the Medalist Award from the club.

He was a pioneer member of the Amucha Ancient Kingdom of Ichies and was  conferred with the Ichie title “OGBENWA” of Amucha in 1981 by the late HRM Eze C.O Ofoegbu(Okwaraorji II of Amucha Ancient Kingdom)

In the same vein, the late Ichie Igbonacho was the patron of the Amucha Development Organization (ADO), Amucha-Ebeise People’s Assembly (AEPA) and Amucha-Ebeise Progressive Movement (AEPM).

A quintessential family man, Ichie Igbonacho was a dotting father to his children and loving husband to his wife, Lolo Lady Edith Ogonnaya Igbonacho who he got married to in 1966.

The marriage was blessed with eight children (four boys and four girls). However, only six are today surviving,  the couple, having lost their first daughter and third son in 2005 and 2022, respectively.

According to a statement from the family signed by Ichie (Engr) Chigozie Igbonacho, the late Ichie Ogbenwa’s rites of passage will start on Friday,15th December,2023 with a Mass at the Christ the King Catholic Church, Aba.

This will be followed by a wake kept the next day at his residence, Ehi Road, Aba.

On Thursday, January 4th, 2024 his body arrives at his compound at Amaorji,  Umuokwara, Amucha for lying in state.

This will be followed by a requiem mass in his honour at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Amucha at 10am and an internment at his compound at noon.

He is survived by children and grandchildren, including Ichie Engr Chigozie Ighonacho and Chief (Pharm) Martins Chibuike Igbonacho, Chairman Al-Tinez Pharm Lagos.

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