Anxiety as Abia govt issues staffs of office to 2 Ezes in same autonomous community  

 

From Ogbonnaya Ndukwe, Aba

Seed of discord may have been planted in Ahiaba Autonomous Community, Obingwa Local Government, Abia State, following the recent issuance of staff of office to some new traditional rulers.

The outgoing administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, recognised 34 traditional-rulers designate, either elected or recommended by their various communities.

But the government recognition, which ordinarily should be a thing of joy, has brought apprehension to the community, a 10-minute drive from Aba. The excitement of the people of Ahiaba community was short-lived as government reportedly issued staff of office to two different persons for the same stool.

Presentation of symbol of authority was performed by Deputy Governor Ude Oko Chukwu, representing Ikpeazu.

Daily Sun learnt that a son to the late monarch of the community, Jim Akataobi, who took the title of Ezeoha III, was handed the symbol of authority, by government at the Michael Okpara Auditorium, venue of the event in Umuahia.

But before then, another indigene of the community, Chief Boniface Chukwuemeka Onyenweaku, also called Williams Onyenweaku, was issued with similar staff and at the same occasion. Stakeholders of the community alleged that Onyenweaku’s recognition was questionable because he was not fielded by the community for the stool.

They urged the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, which oversees such matters to review its action to forestall imminent crisis in the community. The indigenes who explained that they would not want their land or community to be split into two autonomous communities argued that there was nowhere a kingdom would have two kings.

They, as a matter of urgency, appealed to the governor, who in fact, is their kinsman from the same area of Obingwa Council Area, to quench the fire, by withdrawing the staff reportedly issued to Onyenweaku in error.

It was reliably gathered that a faction within the community had actually presented Onyenweaku to the authorities at Obingwa Council as their preferred candidate for the stool.

The other claimant to the stool, Eze Akataobi, insisted: “Our community did not select or elect Emeka Onyenweaku. He was not even a chief here (Ahiaba), but claims to have been made a chief elsewhere.

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 “We want Governor Ikpeazu to urgently intervene and come into the matter. Youths in our community on hearing what happened in Umuahia, that day, went on rampage threatening to destroy his family’s belongings. But I restrained them and pleaded to them not to cause mayhem.

“I am desperately pleading with the governor to save us from this problem, by withdrawing the staff from him, so that he will not use it to cause havoc in the area. Our people in the Diaspora who heard the anomaly, have been calling and requesting to mobilise the youths for action.”

An elderly chief in the community, Levi Ekpendu, said the people were surprised at the turn of events: “No quarrels ensued during the Ezeship selections, including the one that produced Eze Akataobi.

“For peace to reign, government should do the needful by recalling the staff allegedly issued to Onyenweaku in error. No one in the land nominated or recognised him as a chief. We want peace to reign in the community.

“We don’t want our land to be split or divided. We are one people with a common cause, since our ancestral days. We or the government may not be able to contain what may come out of this, if not handled urgently, to nip it in the bud, before it escalates.”

A member of the ruling council, Chief Kingsley Ahuruonye, said as law abiding citizens, they were looking up to government for the best solution to the matter: “Government should act before quarrel ensues.

“Our youths went to the purported Eze’s family house, but couldn’t find him. His brothers are with us. They are not supporting him. We are appealing to those pushing him to desist and allow peace to reign.”

Onyenweaku would not speak on the issue on phone. Even a visit to his compound at Umuonyike did not produse result. He was said not to have been home since receiving the staff of office in Umuahia.

Daily Sun gathered that similar imbroglio occurred in some other communities where government “erroneously” issued staff of office to two different persons from the same autonomous community. The action caused confusion in Itungwa/Umuobiakwa area of the same Obingwa and somewhere in Osisioma Council Area among others.

Officials of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and those of the local government council could not speak on the issue because of the on going strike by workers in the state civil service, due to non-payment of salaries.       

However, a source in the ministry who wished not to be named confided in our correspondent, that those issued staff of office as traditional rulers, without known communities and documentary evidence of being duly nominated by their communities and recommended by their local government councils, were in error since there was no official report on such individuals.

The source disclosed that such “traditional rulers” have been advised to return the staff: “But government is not making it public. It is embarrassing in the first place, to duplicate staff off office of a particular stool.”

 


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