A community in Anambra state, Awa, in Orumba North Local Government areas has been allegedly set on fire over traditional rulership tussle.
Some faction of the community stormed Government House, Awka, the State Capital to solicit for Governor Obiano’s intervention.
They were protesting against proposed imposition of Mr Israel Ezue as the traditional ruler of the community, without due process in line with their custom and tradition.
They displayed placards with inscriptions “Our dear Governor, Awa is on fire”, Hon Emeka Afforka is behind the trouble”, “We need government intervention, “Barr Vera Queen has sold our Igweship post to Chief Israel Ezue” among others.
It was gathered that after the demise of their last traditional ruler since 2015, the traditional stool of Awa community had remain vacant, giving rise to various litigations.
In his address, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Obiano on Community Liaison, Chukwuemeka Egwuonwu, who also alleged that some people in their community connived with some Anambra government officials to manipulate the process of election, so as to install their own traditional ruler against the wish of the people.
In their letter, “We the concerned citizen of Awa with total commitment to the growth and sustainable peace in our community wish to bring this complaint against the activities and conduct of Chief Israel Ezue, Professor Obiajulu Obikeze, Dr Ray Ofor and other cohorts who are attempting to hijack Awa Development Union and install Chief Israel EzueI as the traditional ruler of Awa, even when they knew that Umunzekwe and Ezeani royal family is the only family ought to produce the traditional ruler of Awa.
“That on the second day of January 2017, the Umunzekwe welfare Association wrote a letter addressed it to Obiajulu Obikeze, the President-General of Awa Development Union, informing the Union that the stool of Igweship of Awa is vacant and in consideration of the fact that by the custom and Constitution of Awa, the Umunzekwe is the Igwe producing units in Awa and urged the Union to exercise patience with the Royal family to produce a worthy son. The said letter dated 2nd January 2017 and signed by Mr Reuben Arinze and Tochukwu Nwachukwu is hereby annexed and marked annexure AA”.
Chief Egwuonwu also alleged that some appointees in the government collected N50 million from a section of the community to achieve their egocentric interest.
Egwuonwu said Awa was a small and peaceful community but wondered why some influential people would want to throw the community into perpetual crisis.
He said the government should intervene and stop the election from going on because it was not a decision of the majority in view of the fact every issue surrounding the emergence of a new traditional ruler had not been addressed.
Also speaking, Chief Paul Nwafor, a former President General of the community said they were told to prepare for an election on Feb. 13 based on a letter from the government which they had not seen a copy.
Nwafor said the community needed a traditional ruler but it must follow due process.
He said it was the duty of the community to elect a traditional ruler and not for the government to impose one of them adding that there was unhealthy political undertone behind the desperate effort to conduct an election for Awa.
When contacted, President General of Awa, Dr Ray Offor, said the protesters had contradicted themselves by claiming they were not aware of the election notice but had gone ahead to protest against it.
Ofor, however, said they were waiting for further directive based on government’s reaction to the protest on whether to proceed with the election.
Responding, a representative from the office of the Commissioner for Local Government and Town Union Affairs, who also doubles as the Public Relation Officer of the Ministry, Mr Henry Nwasike assured that their grievances were well noted.
Nwasike who spoke on behalf of the Commissioner said the government of Obiano would do all that was possible to ensure that there was peace in every community.
He said the government does not conduct traditional ruler election for the community but supervised it whole assuring that their grievances would be communicated to appropriate authorities.