From Eziomume Solomon Aba
There is tension in Abacha community, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State. It started on January 9, 2021, when Chief Godwin Odiegwu was installed as a parallel traditional ruler.
The installation by a section of the community followed the withdrawal of certificate of recognition of Igwe Godwin Chuba Mbakwe, who had been on the throne for 21 years. He was one of the three monarchs, whose certificates were withdrawn by Governor Willie Obiano, December last year, over their trip to Abuja in company of billionaire business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze.
Some persons probably opposed to his rule, selected another candidate and installed him as king. Chairman of Umudisi village, which nominated the embattled monarch and from where Odiegwu was also selected and installed as Ezedioramma Ikendum I of Abacha, Emeka Onwuka, told Daily Sun how the plans to coronate another monarch in Abacha were hatched even after the village had in its annual general meeting on December, 2020 30, passed a vote of confidence on Igwe Mbakwe:
“However, on December 31, 2020, during a general meeting of Abacha town, there was a gang-up by splinter group in the community, where they said that Abacha had no Igwe, since Igwe Mbakwe’s certificate was withdrawn by government. Based on that insinuation, the Abacha Development Union (ADU) wrote a letter asking Umudisi to nominate Igwe Mbakwe’s replacement within two days or have the slot forfeited to another village.
“Umudisi, whose right it is to produce candidate for the throne, met and resolved that it was ridiculous that the town union gave it two days to nominate candidate for the throne, against the provision of Section 4, Subsection (b) of the Abacha Igweship Constitution, which gives six months for a candidate of the throne to be fetched.
“Mischievously, too, ADU wrote a separate letter to a splinter group called Umudisi Progressives, asking them to nominate Igwe Mbakwe’s replacement. So, working on the script they had already rehearsed, the splinter group immediately submitted the name of Godwin Odiegwu to the ADU, and about 48 hours after, the coronation was done.”
He said both the Igweship constitution and selection process were violated in selecting Odiegwu as Ezedioramma of Abacha: “Again, it is the exclusive function of the Umuoti kindred to crown traditional ruler in Abacha; but they were nowhere to be found in that coronation ceremony. Instead, it was the traditional prime minister that did the coronation, against the ethics and tradition.”
Coronation of Odiegwu almost turned bloody but for the quick intervention of joint-security team of police and army, which dispersed rampaging youths at the venue. Over 200 youths under the aegis of United Abacha Youths Association (UAYA), had stormed the arena, chanting songs depicting their displeasure over plans by a section of the community to inaugurate parallel traditional ruler, when, according to them, the monarch was still alive.
Traditional Prime Minister (Onowu) of the town, Chief Paul Omofia, who performed the coronation exercise, insisted that the stool was vacant with the withdrawal of government’s certificate of recognition.
But spokesperson of the youths, Ifeanyi Odumegwu, vowed that they would not allow “money bags” drag the town into chaos: “Godwin Chuba Mbakwe is the traditional ruler of Abacha community. He has no issue with Abacha, not to talk of the Umudisi village that nominated him for the throne.
“There are ‘money bags’ who felt they would dictate for him; but he had continued to resist them. They ganged up in many ways. By the time he had recent issue with Anambra government, when he was suspended alongside others over their trip to Abuja, the ‘money bags’ capitalised on the development to actualise their plans.
“It beats the imagination of youths that while the issue of Igwe Mbakwe’s stool is pending in a court of competent jurisdiction; a splinter group went ahead to crown another king. There is no guarantee that the issue will not be resolved in favour of Igwe Mbakwe. So, youths of Abacha community will not allow this scam to stand.”
To show their displeasure over the charade, Onwuka and Ezechukwu Mbakwe led the Umudisi village; while Chief Emmanuel Agharike led the kingmakers of Abacha community, and they stormed the Anambra State Government House, Awka, in protest.
There, Onwuka said the coronation of parallel a traditional ruler did not follow due process: “In as much as our monarch has issue with government, Abacha community is taking steps to resolve it, and see to it that our monarch is restored. Our appeal to the state government is not to allow splinter groups have their way; because, it will bring great problem in our community.”
Similarly, the Umuoti kingmakers in rejecting Odiegwu alleged that they were side tracked in the process. They claimed that the suspended traditional Prime Minister of the community, Omofia, crowned Odiegwu. Their spokesperson, Agharike, who also doubles as the Ezeani of the community, said the exercise was futile, an insult and desecration of tradition.
Kinsmen of the new monarch, represented by a senior lecturer in the College of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Dr. Chukwujekwu Odiegwu, also dissociated themselves from the said installation of Odiegwu. In fact, the don, who is a cousin to the new monarch, threatened to change his surname if Obiano failed to call the Igwe-elect to order.
Palace secretary, Ezechukwu Mbakwe, insisted that the two principal actors in the whole sham, Omofia and Odiegwu were still serving their suspension from the cabinet.