Stop the killings of traditional rulers in Imo | Dailytrust

Stop the killings of traditional rulers in Imo

The spate of abduction and murder of traditional rulers in Imo State has become a threat to the traditional institution itself. For example, gunmen on December 14 kidnapped the traditional ruler of Umuezeala-Ama ancient kingdom in the Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of the state, Aloy Igwe.

On December 13, two traditional rulers, Acho Ndukwe and Paul Ogbu from Ihube communities in Okigwe Local Government Area were kidnapped and their palaces razed. While Ndukwe was rescued 24 hours later, Eze Ogbu was later found dead when security operatives raided a criminal den in Orlu Local Government Area.

On December 9, the traditional ruler of Mbutu ancient kingdom in Aboh Mbaise LGA, Damian Nwaigwe and his counterpart from Atta ancient kingdom in 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.

On November 19, the traditional ruler of Achi Mbieri in Mbaitoli LGA, Henry Madumere, was kidnapped at Iho in Ikeduru LGA while on his way to a public function. The octogenarian, who is the father of a former deputy governor of the State, Eze Madumere, was released six days later.

Earlier on October 19, gunmen invaded Njaba LGA council headquarters located at Nnenasa and opened fire at traditional rulers. While two died on the spot, two others went into coma and were taken to hospital where they were resuscitated.

Traditional leaders play useful roles in mediating between the people and the state, enhancing national identity, resolving minor conflicts and providing an institutional safety-valve for often inadequate state bureaucracies.

And in a multi-stakeholders’ approach in the fight against insecurity, they play prominent roles in canvassing and mobilising grassroots’ support for peace efforts and their institutions are employed for conflict management, resolution and prevention of crisis.

Nigeria’s National Security Strategy 2019, a working document of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), stated that traditional rulers are critical to national cohesion and stability as they act to preserve our cultures, traditions, values, morals and beliefs. They serve as first-line vanguards in handling communal conflicts and crises thereby advancing peaceful coexistence amongst our diverse citizenry.

Unfortunately, especially in Imo State, they are now an endangered species.

These spate of abductions and killings and other spiralling violence erupted in South East with the launch in December 2020 by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of its armed wing, Eastern Security Network (ESN). We condemn this taboo of harassing, kidnapping and murder of traditional rulers. They are not just custodians of tradition, they hold the symbolic ‘Ofo,’ which signifies authority and intermediary between man and God. To contemplate these reprehensible acts against them portends danger for the future.

This is the time for the police and Department of State Services (DSS) to rise up to their responsibilities in stopping this reckless and mindless desecration of our traditional institutions and values.

These killers reside in communities, interact with people and even communicate via phones or social media. Security operatives must up their ante and root out, through actionable intelligence, these hoodlums before they unleash their heinous activities further. The fact that this has not been done is a failure on their part.

It is also important for the governors in the region as well as the Igbo umbrella organization, Ohanaeze Nd’igbo to come out and speak against this dastardly act.

In the interim, additional security should be provided for the traditional rulers and all citizens with vital information on the perpetrators or potential gunmen should provide such information to reliable agents of the state.

As holders of traditional and spiritual authority of their different communities, the blood of the innocent must haunt the killers and abductors. And as Nigerians rise up in condemnation of these pathetic, brutish and inhuman acts, the police and DSS must ensure that their investigations are swiftly concluded and the perpetrators brought to justice. This is to serve as deterrent.

For the families and relatives of the abducted or slain traditional rulers, we sympathise and condole with them. It is the duty of all Nigerians to ensure that the traditional, spiritual and symbolic voices and authorities of any of our traditional rulers are not silenced again.

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