Okey Sampson, Umuahia
The Umuokpo Amairinabuo autonomous community in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State has protested the exclusion of its Eze-elect from a list of persons to be bestowed with Staffs of Office by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
The natives of Umuokpo, who staged a protest in the community, said that they are not ready to accept any other person as their traditional ruler apart from Chief Micah Ohajuru, saying he was unanimously elected as their monarch.
The protesting natives carried placards, some of which read: “Government cannot choose a traditional ruler for Umuokpo Amairinabuo autonomous community”, “Eze Micah Ohajuru is our choice”, and “Don’t cause crisis on our community”.
Speaking on behalf the protesters, the Chairman of the community, Chief Okebugwu Osuagwu, said after the death of their late traditional ruler, Eze EO Amaechi, the community unanimously elected Chief Ohajuru as his successor.
He said they were surprised when after fulfilling all the stipulations of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the name of their Eze-elect was missing from the list of those the Governor would be bestowed with Staffs of Office.
On inquiry, Amaechi said officials of the Ministry told them that their community was not recognised by the State Government even when the recognition of the community was gazetted by the State Government in 2018.
He implored the State Government to give Chief Ohajuru his Staff of Office since he was the overwhelming choice of the community.
Speaking on the development, Chief Ohajuru said Law No 12 passed in 2018 by the State House of Assembly and signed into law by Governor Ikpeazu recognised Umuokpo as an autonomous community.
Ohajuru said it was on the strength of that recognition that the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs asked them to pay N300,000 fees for a Staff of Office which he said they paid, but at the last minute, his name was removed from the list of those government would give recognition as traditional rulers.
Asked why his name was removed, Ohajuru said: ‘We went to the Commissioner, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and he told us that our community was not recognised, but when we showed him documents to the contrary, no tangible reason was given us again.
‘But the truth remains that the powers that be want to impose somebody on the community as their traditional ruler and they are not happy about that.’