There is tension in the hometown of the Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, following the dethronement of two suspended monarchs and installation of their replacements.
The dethroned monarchs are Igwe Alex Edozieuno of Mkpunando and Igwe Peter Ikegbunem Udoji of Eziagulu Out, while the installed monarchs are Igwe Johnson Onyeaka-Mbanefo and Igwe Lawrence Anakpulu Nwofia of Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state.
Igwe Alex Edozieuno of Mkpunando’s problem was said to have started in 2019 when the community accused him, alongside the town union’s executives, of conspiring to sell their land.
The accusations created a lot of tension which led to the stopping of the traditional ruler from performing the annual ritual of the new yam festival.
After stopping the festival, the governor set up a panel of enquiry to look into the allegations of selling of the community land, but after investigation, the panel absolved the monarch of complicity.
However, some people who were not satisfied with the panel’s recommendations opted for the dissolution of the town union’s executives and imposed a caretaker committee.
This generated a lot of problems which led to some members of the community protesting to the government house; alleging that some powerful individuals were bent on creating problems in the town.
Incidentally, Igwe Alex Edozieuno of Mkpunando and Igwe Peter Ikegbunem Udoji of Eziagulu Out were among the 13 monarchs that were suspended from office following their visit to Abuja to see President Muhammadu Buhari without getting approval from the state government.
Their problems began when some of the monarchs in the state, particularly those from Anambra Central, started hobnobbing with the billionaire oil magnate, Prince Arthur Eze, at the time he was having a frosty relationship with the governor over an issue bordering on the location of the newly created Zone 13 of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in the state.
Daily Trust learnt that the governor and the oil magnate allegedly dragged the issue of where the zonal headquarters would be located. While the governor was said to have suggested Aguleri, his home town, Prince Eze worked hard to convince the police hierarchy to site it at his home town, Ukpo, in Dunukofia Local Government Area. Eventually, the police chose Ukpo and the zone has since commenced operations.
During the inauguration of the zone, the 13 traditional rulers featured prominently.
Shortly after the inauguration of the Zone 13, Prince Eze gathered them and told them that the governor was short-changing them by not conducting local government elections in the state.
He told them that due to non-conduct of the LGA elections, they were not getting their five per cent allocation from the local government account.
He also promised to take the traditional rulers to Abuja to the president on a thank you visit for all the president had been doing in the South East, particularly in Anambra State.
Shortly after, one of the traditional rulers, Igwe Peter Uyanwa of Ukwulu, who is the Chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council for Anambra Central, was suspended by the state government for one year, with the government citing a petition from his community, and the suspension of the 12 others followed few weeks later.
Their suspension took effect from August 11, 2020, and the monarchs were warned not to parade themselves as traditional rulers or discharge the functions of their offices in their communities or anywhere within the state and beyond.
In the suspension letter, the state government revoked their membership of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council and cancelled any appointment they were holding in government committees until the suspension is lifted.
According to the state government, the suspension may be lifted at the expiration of one year, renewed or upgraded thereafter depending on its review of their conducts.
The government said the suspension followed the recommendation of their colleagues in the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council headed by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, after a meeting in Awka.
Few days after the suspension, events took a new twist as some members of Eziaguleri-Otu and Mkpunando communities in Aguleri claimed to have dethroned their suspended traditional rulers.
Youths and elders from Aguleri, during a peaceful protest, urged the state government to formally revoke the traditional rulership certificates of Alex Edozieuno and Ikegunam Udoji for their participation in the trip to Abuja.
The crowd of youths, elders and women from the communities convened at the Aguleri junction, Otuocha, before they headed to the Obu Gad to consult “Ndi oji ani Aguleri” where the fates of the embattled monarchs were said to have been sealed.
A House of Representatives member on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Hon. Chinedu Obigwe, in a statement, said, “The protesters moved straight to Obu Gad where major decisions are taken in Aguleri, and after lodging their complaints to Ndi Ichie and Ojiana Aguleri, it was resolved that Igwe Udorji Okike of Eziagulu Otu Aguleri and Igwe Alex Edoziuno of Mkpunando Aguleri had been dethroned as traditional rulers and that they should not parade themselves again as traditional rulers.”
Barley three weeks after the pronouncement of the dethronement of the two Aguleri monarchs, two monarchs: Igwe Johnson Onyeaka-Mbanefo and Igwe Lawrence Anakpulu Nwofia, were crowned to replace them.
The enthronement of the new traditional rulers took place at the Ukwuana-Isiokwe Square, Mkpunando Aguleri amid celebrations.
Daily Trust gathered that the community, made up of four quarters: Ugwuoba, Umuagu na Obeke, Ivite Enu and Igboezunu, unanimously agreed to install the new kings.
One of the oldest men in the community, Ichie Melionwu Udalor, who expressed happiness that a leader who God had raised had been sent to them, prayed for their ancestors to give the new traditional rulers more wisdom throughout their reigns.
One of the new monarchs, Igwe Onyeka Mbanefo, in his acceptance speech, thanked the community for finding him worthy to mount the throne, and promised not to disappoint them.
Also, Eziagulu-Otu Aguleri crowned Lawrence Anakpulu Nwofia as their new traditional ruler to replace the suspended Igwe Peter Ikegbunem Udoji.
Daily Trust gathered that Nwofia’s coronation, which took place on Saturday, September 5, 2020, at Eziagulu Otu Village Square, was carried out by the elders of the community led by the second eldest man in the community, Ogbuanyinya Obuora Atuanya, of Umunriabo village.
The President of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), Chief Alex Onukwue, who is also the President General of Eziagulu Otu, said the community had witnessed a new dawn with the smooth and speedy change of community leadership.
On his part, the Chairman of Aguleri Royal Cabinet, Chief Dominic Ndife, maintained that the new monarch was chosen by the entire community, having contributed to the development and progress of the town.
The Secretary General of Eziagulu Otu, Aguleri, Chief Mike Enemuo, assured that the elevation of the new traditional ruler was done in line with the constitution and due process, calling on the people to come together to work for the good of the community and support their new traditional ruler.
Responding, the new monarch promised to be a servant leader, even as he called on all to come together and join hands in developing their community.
However, during the coronation, there was a fracas resulting from some people opposing the coronation, saying it was against the norms. Many people sustained injuries.
Mr. Uche Okafor, a social commentator, condemned the purported crowning of new monarchs when government had not reviewed their earlier suspension to expulsion.
Mr. Okafor said it was wrong for the community to wake up from their sleep and say an elected traditional ruler had been dethroned without following laid down procedures.
He also stated that in the suspension to the traditional rulers, government said it was for a year, and that since they had not completed the one year and government had not reviewed the suspension, those behind the dethronement were only bent on creating problems in the community.
When contacted, an elder, Edoziuno, who confirmed the development, described as it as funny.
According to him, “The story is true, but it is funny. Some people said they have crowned the serving president general of the community as traditional ruler. That is funny. It is funny because when a traditional ruler is alive, you do not go ahead to crown another traditional ruler in the same community.”
In Eziagulu Otu of Aguleri, it was gathered that the traditional ruler had approached a court to seek for determination of the validity of enthroning a new king when the existing one is not dead or dethroned by government.
It was further gathered that in the coming days more people may approach the courts for determination of the legality of crowning other kings when there were kings already.
Meanwhile, there are insinuations that a politician in the community who is very close to the governor is behind the dethronement and enthronement of the new traditional rulers.