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Saturday, April 13, 2024

In Anambra, Community Leaders Deny Calling for Commissioner Nwabunwanne’s Head


By Izunna Okafor, Awka


• I Won’t Get Distracted — Commissioner Nwabunwanne Says


Some community leaders in Anambra State have denied calling for the probe and the dismissal of the State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne.

This is coming shortly after the media space was awash with publications alleging that many communities in Anambra State are currently marred by crisis instigated by Commissioner Nwabunwanne; while the leaders and some stakeholders of those communities are calling for his probe and immediate dismissal.

According to the reports laced with grammatical errors and malapropisms, the so-called crisis-torn communities include Ifitedunu, Nawfia, Ideani, Azia, Nteje, Abacha, Oba, Ojoto, and Alor, among others.

While claiming that the communal crises border on Igweship (chieftaincy) and town union leadership tussles, the poorly structured news reports also alleged that Commissioner Nwabunwanne has hands and has been the key participant in instigating the said crises. It also quoted the leadership and stakeholders of the communities of telling Governor Chukwuma Soludo to probe and dismiss the Commissioner.

The publication, which trended under different misleading headlines such as “Probe Nwabunwanne, Citizens Charge Soludo as Crises Overwhelm Anambra Communities”, “LGA Commissioner fingered in instigating crises”, among others, also quoted the community leaders and stakeholders as saying that they were not happy about how the Commissioner has been fueling instead of quenching crises in the communities since his days as an aide to former Gov. Willie Obiano on Chieftaincy and Community Affairs.

Although, when he sensed the weight of the allegations he used the community leaders’ names to frame against the Commissioner, the rookie reporter/blogger of the news quickly edited out some of the most offensive parts of the report and even deleted some of the publications from some websites where they were earlier published; the original version of the report alleged that the community leaders and stakeholders held a press conference where they condemned and made the call for the Commissioner’s dismissal.

Capitalizing more on the Igweship tussle in Alor community of Idemili South Local Government Area of the State, the reports quoted some stakeholders of the community as castigating the Commissioner and the Anambra State Government for instigating and not taking the expected action to resolve the Igweship tussle and restore an enduring peace in the community.

However, when contacted by this reporter, Izunna Okafor, some of the stakeholders in the community, including the incumbent President General of the town, Chief Emma Ojukwu, and the immediate-past PG, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa, denied mentioning the Commissioner’s name as the person instigating the Igweship tussle in the community, let alone castigating him or calling for his probe or removal.

Although, the duo attested to the fact that there is a 9-year-old Igweship tussle in the community, they denied ever fingering the Commissioner in the crisis or blaming the Governor Chukwuma Soludo-led administration over the matter. They also said they were shocked when they saw the publication.

Speaking to this reporter, the incumbent PG, Chief Ojukwu, said he never believed such allegation, and wondered what the Commissioner would gain if he sponsors any crisis in the community as alleged.

“How could it be said that the Commissioner would be sponsoring such thing? I don’t believe that at all. That is the house of the Commissioner. So, how could it be said that the Commissioner is putting fire in his house. I don’t think the Commissioner could be sponsoring such thing. How could he do that? I have met him on several locations, and to me, he looks a perfect gentleman. I couldn’t even believe that the Commissioner is sponsoring anything.

“I mean, why would he do that? What will he gain for sponsoring such unrest? He is not even from Alor; so what would he gain from sponsoring such thing, as alleged? I couldn’t even make or buy into such allegation,” he said.

The PG also said that the publication and the allegation therein could be a case of someone using his name to defame, castigate, or smear the image of the Commissioner.

“Our names are everywhere, our pictures are everywhere, both on Facebook, on the internet and other platforms. So someone can just wake up and use them to write all manner of things. You know sometimes, journalism practice is like a pot of soup: someone can out water, the other person will add maggi and crayfish, and another person will add pepper; and before you know it, they have cooked up one thing. So it is not new. You can even grant an interview and a journalist can twist it into another thing and give it a sensational headline. So, in summary, my brother, I never made any such comment against the Commissioner,” he said.

Similarly on his own part, the immediate-past PG of the community, Chief Igbonwa, denied calling for the Commissioner’s head, for any reason. He said he never made any comments against the Commissioner, while also revealing that he even called the Commissioner few days ago to appreciate him for the good steps the State Government has taken so far in resolving the age-old Igweship tussle in the community.

The former PG referred this reporter to the recent publication where he was commending the Governor Soludo’s government for their efforts so far in restoring peace and dousing the tension in the community when a court-dethroned monarch in the community, Mac-Anthony Okonkwo was planning to celebrate new yam festival in the community against the the court judgement.

A part of the report said “Igbonwa has already commended Governor Soludo for the action, adding that the mounting tension in the community has reduced considerably.”

He said that among other reasons, the commendation was because Soludo’s government stopped this year’s proposed celebration of new yam festival by the court-dethroned monarch, Okonkwo. He said that the commendation was also as a result of the response he received on his petition to the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice whom ordered the dethroned monarch to stop parading himself as the traditional ruler of Alor and obey the court judgement on the matter should be obeyed. He said he believed that Commissioner Nwabunwanne must have been contributory to the facilitation and success of the response, as it may not have been given without him being contacted for clarification on the matter, as the Commissioner for the Ministry concerned with the matter.

“How could I call him few days ago to appreciate him and the State Government for all these efforts, and just few days after, I would start accusing him of sponsoring and fuelling crossing in the community?” he wondered.

“So, please, just to keep the record straight, I didn’t say anything against the Commissioner, and neither did I call for his head,” he added.

Although, Mr. Igbonwa owned up to the parts of the reports where he made clarifications about the Igweship tussle in his community, the court judgement on the matter, and the attempts by the dethroned monarch to disobey or manipulate the court judgment; he however said he never blamed or made any comments against Commissioner Nwabunwanne on the issue.

He also revealed that 99% the indigenes of Alor community are not happy over Igweship tussle raging in the once-peaceful community; but said that such would not be a reason for him to speak against the Commissioner and the state government who have made and continue making visible efforts to resolve the age-old crisis.

Mr. Igbonwa, however, urged the State Government to expedite actions to facilitate and ensure quicker resolution of the crisis to forestall further breakdown of law and order.

When contacted, the leaders of other communities that were mentioned in the earlier version of the spurious reports blaming and calling for the Commissioner’s probe and sack, including Ifitedunu, Nawfia, Ideani, Azia, Nteje, Abacha, Oba, and Ojoto, also denied participating in any press conference where such was stated, and also denied making any comments against the Commissioner and the state government.

The community leaders, however, warned anybody using their names and those of their communities to defame or incite skirmish between them and the Commissioner to desist from such.

“I wonder why some people are bent on tarnishing the image of the Commissioner. The young man has been seen as one of the hard-working commissioners in the state. Before now, Caretaker Committee had been everywhere, but since he came in, he has allowed each of the communities to choose their leaders without any interference. So, who are actually the forces behind running the young man and his image down? And what exactly is the motive behind that?” Igwe Steven Onyekwelu Ezeji of Ideani wondered.

When contacted by this reporter, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Nwabunwanne, also described the publication as a deliberate efforts to smear his image. He said that since he assumed office as the Commissioner, the government had restored peace in over a hundred communities in the State, especially through the conduct of peaceful town union and Igweship elections in many communities, where people were allowed to choose their leaders through the option A4, and without any interference from the state government.

The Commissioner, however said that he would remain focused in the discharge of his duty and would never get distracted by the detractors and their machinations to smear his image and that of the state government.

“This government is a government that has agendas with deadline. And, so, I want to be focused. For any reason at all, I don’t want to get distracted by those detractors who are after my image and those peddling all manner of things against me. Soludo’s administration is a focused administration. So, I want to remain focused as well,” he said.

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