Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The crisis and controversies trailing the planned initiation of an Umuoji native into the prestigious Agbalanze Society of Onitsha took another dimension yesterday as the Obi of Onitsha announced the indefinite suspension of the Ozo initiation as well as the executives of Agbalanze till further notice.
The mood in Onitsha Kingdom yesterday has been that of mixed feelings. While many people who had earlier opposed the planned initiation of non native into the Ozo title were jubilating for what they described as averted calamity, it was a sad story for those in support who had earlier planned to mock the nay –sayers after the initiation today.
Though President of Agbalanze Onitsha, Nnabuenyi Saul Mbanefo could not be reached for comments while his Secretary, Chinyelugo Anumonye declined comments, some members of the Agbalanze Onitsha who spoke on condition of anonymity condemned the suspension of the Agbalanze executives by the Obi.
In the document announcing the Obi’s proclamation obtained by the reporter, the revered traditional ruler, AgbogidI Nnaemeka Achebe acknowledged in the opening paragraph that “the ancient and beloved community of Onitsha has been in turmoil in the past several days as a consequence of the proposal by Ozo Umudei Group 1 to initiate two members of the Nwagu family of Umu Iseli , Umudei into Ozo Onicha”
Igwe Achebe also expressed deep concerns and displeasure over a town crier announcement at the instance of the Agbalanze Onitsha summoning all Onitsha indigenes to an emergency meeting on Wednesday 20th June at Ilo Ogbeoza without recourse to him noting that in Onitsha custom and tradition, only him as the Monarch has the “authority and prerogative to deploy the town crier in such manner”
Describing such action as an affront to the revered Ukpo Ezechima Royal Stool and an abomination, the Monarch reminded the people of his commitment to ensuring their protection and safety and immediately issued a 6 point proclamation not only cancelling the proposed meeting but also suspending the Ozor title taking and the executives of Agbalanze indefinitely.
“All Ozo title taking ceremonies or part thereof including the Ozo Umudei Group 1 ceremony scheduled for 21/22 June 2018 by Agbalanze Onitsha is suspended with immediate effect until further notice.
“The nature of all traditional infringements in connection with this act will be assessed and appropriate sanctions applied without fear or favour. All indigenes of Onitsha wherever they may be are enjoined to be of good behavior and to pray to Almighty God through our Ancestors to give us the wisdom, courage and strength to ride through this temporary storm in a manner that would continue to sustain love, peace and unity amongst us” the Obi’s proclamation noted.