President General of Afaraukwu, Chief Ikechukwu Nwabueze, revealed the community’s resolve to sue the Federal Government if they fail to produce the Kanus.
– Plans mass protest in spite Python Dance 3
– Shelves New Yam festival celebration
Okey Sampson, Aba
September 14 will be exactly one year when soldiers invaded the palace of the paramount ruler of Afaraukwu Ibeku, Umuahia in Abia State, HRM (Eze) Isaac Okwuonu Kanu.
The desecrated palace also happens to be the home of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu. One year down the line, neither the traditional ruler nor his son, Nnamdi, has been seen or anything heard about them.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, President General of Afaraukwu, Chief Ikechukwu Nwabueze, revealed the community’s resolve to sue the Federal Government if they fail to produce their monarch and his son.
He also said that they concluded plans to protest to the army to show them where they kept the IPOB leader and his father, their traditional ruler.
He also spoke on the community’s decision to boycott the celebration of this year’s New Yam festival as a way of registering their anger over the forced absence of their monarch from their community. Excerpt:
It’s been getting close to one year since your traditional ruler has not been seen as a result of army invasion of his palace. How has it been all this while?
Well, we’ve been feeling very bad since the absence of the traditional ruler and as a matter of fact, the whole of Afaraukwu held a meeting and decided that we are not going to participate in this year’s New Yam festival. The reasons are: one, our monarch has not been seen and nobody knows his whereabouts. Secondly, his palace was desecrated and we recall that there was a time we wrote an open letter to the Federal and State governments to come and clean up the land. So, all these things are the reasons the whole Afaraukwu community decided that there will not be any new yam celebration this year in Afaraukwu land. That is a very good move to show how angry and how unhappy the people have been feeling the absence of their traditional ruler, HRM (Eze) Isaac Kanu. Anybody that knows the Ibeku man or Ibeku people, even Umuahia at large, this New Yam festival is one festival that is valued more than any other in the land. A good number of our people do not come home for Christmas, but all of them will certainly come for the New Yam festival, but now, we are in a sober mood, there is no way we can be celebrating when there are some evil in the land. We are really, really unhappy, mourning and all that, that is why we are not going to celebrate the New Yam festival. It is to prove that we are not happy over what happened.
READ ALSO: Soldiers storm Kanu’s home
If the community boycotts this year’s New Yam festival celebration, will the gods of the land, so to say, not be angry?
Definitely, the gods are angry and why we have to boycott the New Yam festival is for them to move. They are supposed to move and fight on their own. Some we are doing that to tell them how angry we are that our monarch is not there. By the way, if we are doing the New Yam festival, who is going to do the rituals, who is going to do all the things the monarch would do? Who will do the Iwa Ji? I cannot do that and no other person is qualified to do that apart from the Eze (King).
Apart from the planned boycott of the New Yam festival, what else has the community done to ensure the return of your monarch
What we intend to do outside the boycott of the New Yam festival is to write letters to the authorities that be to bring back our traditional rulers. Another thing on the offing is that by Saturday, we will be having a meeting with the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Zone 9 and this matter will be tabled before him. Again, by September 14, which will be one year when our monarch’s palace was invaded by soldiers, the whole of Afaraukwu people will be on the street to march to the Government House and everywhere, to protest and to tell them openly that they should bring back our Eze and the son, Nnamdi and every other thing they took away from the community as a result of Operation Python Dance.
So, these are the plans that we are planning to do to see how we can put pressure so that they could tell us the whereabouts of our Eze because as at now, we cannot say whether our monarch is in government or military custody. But our problem is that since they came, we’ve not seen the man and we’ve not heard from him. Now, we are asking them, if they know his whereabouts, let them tell us so that we will know where to go and look for him and what to do. If he is dead, then we will bury him and look for another king as tradition demands and if he is alive, let them tell us, they are in the position to tell us because since that day they invaded the palace, we’ve not seen him. We never invited the army, they did, so, every other thing that came as a result of that, they should be able to explain how it happened.
Is the community thinking along the line of taking legal action if the army fails to provide your monarch?
Definitely, we will do that as our last resort because we are peaceful people, we are not violent, we like dialoguing. When we put up all these measures and nothing comes out of it, we’ve consulted our lawyers and even our sons that are lawyers; they are very much at alert, but that will be a last resort.
The army says there is going to be operation Python Dance III in September, which will coincide with the community’s protest, won’t there be confrontation between you and soldiers?
Well, we wouldn’t know if they have sure arrangement, but what is important is that they say in Igbo: Anaghi aso mgbagbu aghara iga ogu (one cannot because of fear of death through the bullet, fail to go to war). We are demanding for our monarch and nobody will stop us from demanding that, doing what is right, what is needful for us. We are not carrying arms, we are not going to be destructive, we are not going to go with any machete, it’s only going to be peaceful demonstration to tell the world this is the way this community is feeling about the absence of their traditional ruler for over a year.
So, whether they are doing Operation Python Dance 3,4,5,6, will not stop us from going to protest and tell the world that how we are feeling, including protesting to them (army). We will go to them and tell them our mind, they have their own traditional rulers in their different communities, all of them come from somewhere and they have their traditional rulers.
Some people are of the view that it’s high time you looked for another monarch since the present one has not been around for almost one year now. Are you thinking along that line?
You can only do that when he is announced dead. You cannot replace a king that is alive, it is not constitutional; so, we are not thinking along that line; he is our Eze, we don’t have any problem with him that will make us to think of changing him, no! We cannot be thinking along that line, what if we pick another king the same thing still happens; so, we will still go and pick another one? That one is not an option at all.
What has the community lost since this one year her monarch has not been around?
We’ve lost so many things, we’ve lost his fatherly advice, we’ve lost his blessings and lots more from here and there. They are not what we should start mentioning, we’ve lost so, so, so much.
What actually do you want the Federal Government to use in appeasing the gods of your land and cleansing the community?
We’ve told them what they will use to appease the gods and cleanse our land. If they have forgotten what I told them, I said they should bring seven white Nkapi (domestic smelly long-pointed mouth rat), seven white colanuts, seven white rams, seven white Igbo cows, seven white tortoise and other things. But where they won’t be able to provide those things, we can assist them in providing them if they can bring N800 million.
During the invasion of your monarch’s palace last year, some of your kinsmen were allegedly killed. Have you made any move to ensure that compensation was paid to their families?
Sometime ago I was told, I’m not too sure, that the state government gave the family of one of the girls killed by soldiers money and they went ahead to bury the girl. I didn’t feel happy about that because the corpse is a concrete evidence.
What’s your advice to your people?
They should still maintain law and order because our place is the heart and the seat of the government. We have been in all our lives peaceful and I advise them to continue in peaceful manner and attitude because I know at the end day, justice will prevail and we know that on hearing our request that President Muhammadu Buhari will do something to wipe away our tears.