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Monday, July 22, 2024

‘Don’t Listen to Dubious Commissioners’ — Anambra Community Tells Soludo, Rejects New Monarch



By Izunna Okafor, Awka

It was a dramatic scene characterized by one people, one voice, and one interest, as the people of Isuaniocha Community in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State organized a peaceful protest to register their unanimous rejection of the new Traditional Ruler who was recently issued a certificate of recognition by the State Government, Governor Chukwuma Soludo.

Governor Soludo had, last Saturday, presented certificates of recognition to four traditional rulers, one of whom was Igwe Mkpuorah Ngini of Isuanaocha.

However, barely four days after the recognition of certificates, over one thousand indigenes of Isuanịọcha took to the streets to demonstrate their non-acceptance of the new monarch the government recognized for them.


Demonstrating this peacefully at the Anambra State Government House, Awka, the people said that what the Community needed at the moment was nothing but peace, and not imposition of a traditional ruler by a few cabals who do not mean well for the town.

The protesters were seen wielding placards with different inscriptions such as “Igweship election was conducted under crisis and confusion,” “We reject Mkpuorah Ngini,” “Ngini family cannot dictate for Isuaniocha,” “Chikodi Anarah, Igbakigba, leave Isuaniocha alone,” “Isuaniocha needs peace not war,” “We have suffered a prolonged period of crises sponsored by the Commissioner for Homeland Affairs, Chikodi Anarah”; “Governor Soludo, please listen to the good people of Isuaniocha”; “Do not listen to your Dubious Commissioners, Tony Nwabunwanne and Chikodi Anarah,” among other write-ups.

Chanting some solidarity songs, the protesters also declared their confidence in Governor Soludo’s ability to urgently address the age-long crisis rocking their community.

Presenting their protest letter, the Caretaker President General of the community, Mr. Friedrich Chukwuma Egwunwa, said the crisis began in 2018 when some persons, including the present Commissioner for Homeland Affairs, Mr. Chikodi Anarah, connived and sold a vast portion of land belonging to Isuaniocha Community Secondary School.

According to him, the crisis that erupted from that action forced many stakeholders in the community to flee to other neighboring communities in search of safety. He said the situation had remained like that since six years ago, while the cabals and their cohorts ran the town’s affairs with impunity and without respect for elders.

Mr. Egwunwa wondered how the stakeholders and many other indigenes of the community would still be on the run, taking refuge in other communities, and the cabals would claim that a traditional ruler had been elected in the Community that is still struggling and craving for peace.

“The government of Governor Soludo said earlier that there would be no election in communities that have crises; and Isuaniocha is one of such communities. But Tony Nwabunwanne, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters went ahead to conduct a shabby election where they coerced a few individuals to come and stand as electorates. The stakeholders did not even know about it. He ignored the Governor’s directive for his own personal reasons.

“Chikodi Anarah, who sold our land, has been doing everything possible to suppress every evidence; and that was why they colluded to present someone to the Governor as our Igwe. We don’t accept that move. All we want now is peace,” he said.

Contributing, another resident of the Community, Mr. Moses Emebo said the people were already on the path of restoring peace in the town through resolutions, consultations, and deliberations; and all of a sudden, they heard that the government issued a certificate of recognition to someone the community never voted for or nominated to rule them.

According to Mr. Emebo, all the people wanted was for the Governor to revoke the certificate and take steps to restore internal peace in the community before the issue of Igwe would be laid on the table for the elders and stakeholders to discuss the way forward.

He said: “We trust the administration of our Governor; please, let him come and address the crisis in Isuaniocha. All we want is peace; and that is why we are here on a peaceful protest, to let him know that we are pained over the ugly trends in the town which are caused by a few persons who interfere in our issues.”

On their own parts, the women folks who turned out in their numbers said they had to postpone their scheduled August Meeting because issues in Isuaniocha no longer allowed them to sleep with their eyes closed.

One of them, Mrs. Chinyere Nweke, attested that a former Chairman of the Awka North Local Government Area, Mr. Cosmos Okonkwo, who is an indigene of Isuaniocha, had been instrumental to the calamities and crises in the area, alongside the Homeland Affairs Commissioner, who was a Security Adviser to the former Governor Willie Obiano then before his recent appointment.

Mrs. Nweke recounted how youths mobilized by Commissioner Anarah, under the guise of security, were intimidating and selling landed property not belonging to them; and further regretted that the situation in the community had led to the loss of lives, while also exposing so many of them to the dangers of attacks and other types of risks.

According to her, what the women and the community, in general, needed at the moment was peace and justice, and not a traditional ruler who, she said, would end up causing more division and crisis in the community.

She said: “We are tired; our children are dying in front of us for no just cause. The women are not happy. Igweship is not our problem now; we want peace and justice. After these, we can now talk about the next thing. Please, we are begging the Governor to tell Chikodi Anarah to leave us alone. Let him go back to his community Amanuke.

“I am a mother; how can I bring up my children in this kind of environment full of chaos? We need the Governor’s intervention.”

Central among these protesters were two aged men, Elder Obika Okoye and Chief Raphael Okeke, who were led with their walking sticks to the Government House, in the spirit of the protest.

In interviews with newsmen, the two aged men traced the crisis to the sale of the Secondary School Land in 2018. They also hinted that Isuaniocha had never used the election format to select their traditional ruler; rather, it was done following some laid down procedures, which they said, were never followed by the people who claimed to have elected the one to occupy the traditional stool of the community.

According to them, what the people wanted was a total reconciliation, bringing back those in exile, reclaiming land sold by a few persons, rebuilding of houses and structures destroyed in the last six years, before they could talk about having a traditional ruler. They said this should be done based on merit, not by election contest.

Responding to the complaints of the people, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, said Governor Soludo was a man of peace and justice, and would not be a party to any injustice in the state.

The SSG, who spoke through the Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Community Affairs, Mr. Fidelis Nnazor, promised the people that the government would look into their grievances and the protest letter, as well as take the necessary action within the next one week.

According to him, the government will set up a committee immediately to look into the matter, with a view to resolving it and bringing peace back to the town. This, he said, would enable the Soludo Administration to carry on with its developmental projects in all parts of the state without any hindrance.

The protesters later submitted their protest letter to the government and pleaded with the government to take the necessary action within the next one week as promised.

Efforts by this reporter, Izunna Okafor, to get the reactions of the two accused commissioners proved abortive, as none of them took their calls or reverted back as as at the time of this publication.

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