(Note: The British set-up and ran the native court system.)
The impatience of Mbano women with the unfavorable colonial policies reached a boiling point in early December 1929. They snubbed colonial orders that prohibited public protests and gathered at Orie-Agu, Nkwor Nzerem, and Afor Ebu Umunumu markets.
During their gatherings, they denounced the artificial decline in palm produce prices, the suspected imposition of taxes on them, and the alleged abuse of power by native court officials. On December 15, 1929, three women, Akumerenyonye, Nwobuaku, and Irugu of the Obollo compound of Nzerem, joined other women at Nkor Nzerem market to verbally rebuke Okororie, a warrant chief who had represented Nzerem at the Umuduru Native Court for 19 years.
The women later stormed his house, demanding the release of a prisoner, Obiaghanwa. Okororie had sued Obiaghanwa for living with his sister, Woriegbu, who was already married to Egwim, a court messenger at Okigwe. The court had found Obiaghanwa guilty on December 12, 1929, a decision the women condemned. The enraged women accused Okororie of using his power to imprison Obiaghanwa for failing to pay a court fine of £3. The women believed that Okororie’s conduct was another example of abuse of power and corrupt practices by a court member.
The looting marked the beginning of the women-led rebellion that swept through 32 towns in Mbano, directed chiefly against native court officials, who suffered physical assault, looting, or damages to their properties.
Obala, one of the women’s leaders from Umunumo, informed Okororie that women met recently at the Oriagu market and determined that he had gone against their laws by putting his “hand between their legs.” As the women “yelled out and struck their breasts,” they demanded that Okororie should produce the prisoner, or they would kill him and loot his house.