Monarchs in Imo State have gone into hiding following spate of killings and abductions of their colleagues in the state.
As at the last count, no fewer than five traditional rulers have been killed and numerous others kidnapped.
The onslaught on traditional rulers started on April 7 when gunmen abducted Eze Charles Irogebu of the Umuezie community in Nguru-Aboh Mbaise LGA and his cabinet chiefs.
The monarch who was freed days later was returning to his palace after attending a traditional marriage ceremony at Ehime Mbano LGA when his abductors, double-crossed his convoy, kidnapped him and his cabinet chiefs.
Eze E. Durueburuo of Okwudor autonomous community and Sampson Osunwa of Ihebinowerre autonomous community, both in Njaba Local Government Area of the state met their death on October 19 while having a meeting with the chairman of the interim management committee of the area. While the two traditional rulers died on the spot, two others went into a coma and were rushed to an undisclosed hospital where they were resuscitated.
On the same day, the traditional ruler of the Etekwuru autonomous community in the Ohaji-Egbema LGA, Kenneth Okereke escaped assassination while his attackers razed his palace and official vehicle after he escaped.
On November 19, the traditional ruler of Achi Mbieri in the Mbaitoli LGA, Henry Madumere, was kidnapped at Iho in the Ikeduru LGA while on his way to a public function.
The octogenarian monarch who is the father of a former deputy governor of the state, Eze Madumere, was let off the hook of his abductors six days later.
On December 9, the traditional ruler of Mbutu ancient kingdom in the Aboh Mbaise LGA, Damian Nwaigwe and his counterpart from Atta ancient kingdom in the Njaba LGA, Edwin Azike were kidnapped separately.
While Azike was kidnapped and his corpse dumped at the market square in his community, Nwaigwe was freed two days later.
In the latest incident, gunmen on Tuesday kidnapped the traditional ruler of Umuezeala-Ama ancient kingdom in the Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State.
Just last Sunday, two traditional rulers, Acho Ndukwe and Paul Ogbu were kidnapped and their palaces razed.
While Ndukwe was rescued 24 hours later, Ogbu’s corpse was later seen where it was dumped.
The situation has forced most traditional rulers to go into hiding with some abandoning their palaces.
South East Trust learnt that some of them no longer sleep in their palaces while they have also made attempts to beef up their security personnel.
One of the traditional rulers, who spoke to our correspondent in confidence, expressed dismay at the onslaught on the traditional institution in the state.
He said that they are only relying on prayers for God’s intervention.
Asked what could be the cause, he said, “I don’t know. Maybe they see us as part of the problem bedeviling the country. But that’s very wrong. A traditional ruler in Imo receives N87,000 as stipends while in the North, the emirates have their own budgets. That is not enough to kill us. But all I can say is that some insidious forces are hiding under the present situation to settle scores”.