From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
The leadership crisis rocking Aguluzigbo community in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State has worsened following the inability of the community leaders to agree on modalities for the conduct of election into the community’s traditional stool.
Some residents and stakeholders of the community had kicked against the poll which was held last Friday, January 15. Also, the youths of the community stormed the Government House, Awka on 12th January in protest.
The protesters numbering over 100 had alleged that there were plots to manipulate the electoral process. They also alleged that the constitution of the community was not being followed in the electoral activities.
The youths carried placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Aguluzigbo constitution says 18 years and above to vote in Igweship election’, ‘Igwe Aguluzigbo is not for sale’, ‘Igweship election must follow the Aguluzigbo constitution’, ‘Payment of levy can never be a condition to vote in Igweship election’, among others.
Regardless, the election was held in the community’s hall amid tight security. Chief Chuka Barth Asouzu gathered 113 votes while Chief Rufus Ugochinyelu Ilodiba polled 840 votes and was declared the winner.
Supporters of Azouzu alleged that they could not vote because their names were expunged from the electoral register despite satisfying the constitutional requirements.
Asked for clarifications on the issues raised by Asouzu’s supporters, president-general of the community, Mr. Madueke, noted that the electoral committee was only following the constitution of the town.
He further explained that voters’ register were complied with by the village chairmen and that they were in a better position to offer explanations on the alleged development.
Speaking on the reviewed constitution, the PG said: “I lacked the power to amend the constitution on my own. The constitution was amended by the committee nominated by the six villages of Aguluzigbo.”
Reacting to the development, Joseph Dimobi, the former leader in the Anambra State House of Assembly, stated that the electoral process was characterized by violence and was flawed from its beginning.
“Why should we have the invasion of the town by more than 200 policemen? Is it the way Igweship election is done in other towns? Is our town different from others? Why are they unleashing terror on us using the instrumentality of government?” he queried.
The former lawmaker pleaded with the state government to cancel the election and reschedule it to 31st December 2021 to enable the town’s general assembly to participate in the election of their Igwe as the constitution stated.
Former senator for Anambra Central, Senator Victor Umeh, in his reaction, said that the election was peaceful and that he was satisfied with the way it was conducted.
“The election was peaceful, there was no interference. The world will now know that Aguluzigbo is truly a united, peaceful community”, Umeh stated.
But one of the contestants, Asouzu, described the election as a “complete charade!”
He said: “We saw the manipulation coming. Even the chairman of the election committee resigned and the secretary resigned yesterday. So you can imagine the type of election so conducted!”