From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
What might have turned out a bloody clash between parallel monarchs and their supporters in Alor, Idemmili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, was averted on Wednesday December 30, 2020.
Supporters of Igwe Ebelechukwu Chukwumesili and Igwe MacAnthony Okonkwo had, the previous day, reportedly prepared for what might have ended up an epic battle at a location in the community called Obi Eze Agbudugbu.
It was gathered that the two had fixed somewhat similar events and chose the same location for them. Also, Alor People’s Assembly (APA), loyal to Igwe Chukwumesili, fixed its annual general meeting for the same day. It was supposed to be a thanksgiving service but, in reality, the gathering was believed to be a supremacy contest that was expectedly going to set the community on fire.
In fact, save for the timely intervention of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, at about 4:30am on the ‘day of battle’, the worst might have happened.
Ngige, who belongs to the camp of Igwe Chukwumesili, said he had asked the president-general of APA, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa, to change the venue of APA’s event to St. Mary’s Catholic Church field to avoid the looming bloodshed.
Daily Sun gathered that some residents of the community fled from the town on the eve of the presumed ‘day of war’. In fact, the minister admitted that some of his aides and guests ran away from the town.
“The only sad aspect of it, somebody said, was that a lot of people left Alor yesterday night, saying that there would be war this morning here.
“Some of my guests who came from Abuja also left because I asked the president-general that Ndulue’s book on Alor, that we should launch it again today. My staff members had to run. I gave them permission to go,” Ngige said.
Speaking at the event, which was well attended by many Alor indigenes, Ngige said there had not been any bloodshed in the town since the intra-communal crisis started; hence, his quick intervention.
“By 4:30 this morning, we took a decision to relocate this event from Obi Eze Agbudugbu into this place for security reasons. I called the president-general and after I finished with him, he also called me back and said that the Igwe, Eze Di Ora Mma III (referring to Chukwumesili) had also called him. He was not happy.
“I asked him to make the calls for the relocation of this. And I heard what was being said; that it would mean that the other people had defeated us. I was laughing. There are people who want bloodshed.
“I received a security report from Abuja. They told me that the Anambra State government had written to Abuja saying that Alor would be in flames in the next few minutes (being December 30).
“That we have captured Obi Eze Agbudugbu. I laughed. We have given you the history of Obi Eze Agbudugbu. It was during my time as governor that I discussed it with my successor Ebekuedike, Aniefuna and we started it.
“At the time we were acquiring land for St. John’s, that was the time we were also acquiring and refurbishing Obi Eze Agbudugbu because that was where the first king of Alor started.
“So, we now relocated immediately to avoid bloodshed. But if you go down there now, you will see that they are not doing anything there. The place is empty. They just want to give our community a bad name,” he further noted.
Speaking further, Ngige, ex-governor and former senator for Anambra Central Senatorial District, accused the Anambra State government of instigating and fuelling intra-communal crises in his community for political reasons.
“Anambra State government should learn to obey court orders and judgments. Alor People’s Assembly is a product of court judgment. Justice Oguji of the Anambra State High Court, sitting in Awka, gave a judgment and said that caretaker is not forever, that it is illegal.
“He ordered Alor people to continue with their election and all of us gathered down there, at Okebunoye Hall, and did our election. I was present. Nobody told me the story.
“They (the state government) went to appeal the judgment at the Court of Appeal but they didn’t show any presence. The Court of Appeal struck off their appeal. It’s only two weeks ago that they came back, begging the Court of Appeal for relisting, yet they refused to recognise Alor People’s Assembly.
“But I was watching them. They no longer write anybody as a caretaker. If they do that we will take them to court for contempt and somebody will go to jail.
“We are begging them to also do elections in other communities in Anambra State. Out of 182 communities in Anambra, over 140 have got caretaker committees. It shows that the government has no grip of the various communities in the state.
“So, we won’t allow them to continue with a caretaker committee in Alor. It is the same for local government elections. What they have is a caretaker committee. We won’t allow that to continue. We are entering 2021. We will force them to do elections in all these places through judicial process. We will do that,” the minister said.
APA’s president-general, Igbonwa, while presenting his scorecard for 2020, listed the achievements he had recorded with his team and assured the people of Alor that his team would continue to work for them.
Igwe Chukwumesili, in what he tagged his ‘message of peace to Ndi Alor,’ urged his subjects to imbibe the spirit of love and forgiveness.
“The lessons of our yesteryears were to make us stronger and bond greatly. While we learnt our lessons not to take some certain things mildly, it has also strengthened our resolve not to take the love or unity of our community lightly,” he said.
However, the government-recognized monarch, Igwe Okonkwo, at his event held the same day, urged his supporters to remain peaceful and focused.
“There is peace in the land now. Although some people said that my Ofala would not hold and that there would be confusion and violence but God did not allow that to happen,” Igwe Okonkwo said.
Reacting to the allegations, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Don Adinuba, said that all the issues raised by the minister were subjects of litigation and as such it would be improper for him to comment on them.