For some time, I have really been ruminating over the rumblings in the Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers orchestrated primarily by Governor Rochas Okorocha’s refusal to obey rule of law and do the needful as ordered by the Courts and the Federal Government. The governor’s blunt obduracy to reinstate HRM Eze (Dr) Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya as Chairman of Imo State Council of Ndieze has if nothing else, portrayed Imo State as a replica of George Orwells Animal Farm and the governor himself, as “Lord of the Manor Farm”. This picture is incontestably sordid.
Anybody who has been privileged to read the book in question, including my friend, FCC Jones Onwuasoanya, would understand what I’m driving at. Some people may have taken it upon themselves to continuously misadvise the governor purely out of petty sycophancy. However, the bulk ends on the governor’s desk and he takes the glory or blame of whatever action he takes irrespective of who must have advised him behind the façade to do it.
What actually appalls me is how Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri of Obi Orodo Autonomous Community in Mbaitoli Local Government Area and FCC Jones, found it worthy to jump into the fray without first considering the implications of their action. They chose to act as the governor’s foot soldiers (may be to please him) and voluntarily took up arms against Eze Ilomuanya, who has done nothing wrong other than to seek for Justice and equity.
The ludicrous thing about their action is that it was borne out of ignorance, stupidity and devoid of empiricism. They were tactless. They forgot that what they were dabbling into are issues of law, most of which have already been resolved by the courts in favour of Eze Ilomuanya. They forgot that no one man is greater than the courts and the Federal Government. Or perhaps, they wanted to apply the infamous principles adopted by Napoleon and Snowball in Animal Farm because they were convinced that Imo State under my governor, Rochas Okorocha, has indeed become an Animal Farm as captured by George Orwell.
FCC Jones first announced his inglorious entrance into the arena when he threw salvos at former Governor Ikedi Ohakim for daring to write another open letter to Governor Okorocha. Jones, who ate sumptuously from Ohakim’s kitchen found it convenient to upbraid his erstwhile benefactor just to please his new prey (Governor Okorocha). What a world!.
In his reckless reaction, Jones ignorantly attacked Eze Ilomuanya and advised him to stop troubling Imo State, that after all, Eze Ilomuanya was not born a King. He went further to raise issues far above his knowledge and comprehension concerning Obinugwu Ezeship stool and the attempted foisting of a 75 years old stranger, Mazi Stanley Nwangwu, on Obinugwu Community but which the people till date, have rejected vehemently.
As I was contemplating if Jones drunk when he picked his pen to insult Ohakim and Eze Ilomuanya, Eze Ohiri, like a trigger happy cop, fired another senseless missile at Eze Ilomuanya. Ohiri threatened to sanction any journalist who henceforth addressed Eze Ilomuanya as an “Eze”. According to him, Eze Ilomuanya “his son” is no longer a monarch. Chai, mkpari ga adi!.
But for Okorocha, who is Ohiri and FCC Jones to stand before Ohakim and Eze Ilomuanya and open their filthy mouths, not to talk of vomiting thrash from them? As the Igbos say “a child sent to steal by his father, boldly breaks the door with his legs”.
Before, I reply these two misguided fellows, (Ohiri and Jones) I want to advise Okorocha to be way of FCC Jones Onwuasoanya. Jones is an acclaimed “fair weather friend”. If the going is good, Jones is your friend, but if things change the other way, Jones abandons you immediately. I won’t be surprised if tomorrow, Jones leaves Okorocha and joins Senator Ifeanyi Ararume and fires back at Okorocha. The governor must not allow Jones into his bedroom or even kitchen. Jones is only fit to stay at the visitor’s room if the governor’s back must be protected.
FCC Jones Onwuasoanya is the modern day “Brutus”. Let the governor not pay Jones for three months and he will see Jones reaction.
I will start with Ohiri’s bemused outburst recently. After reading from the newspapers reports credited to Ohiri who became a traditional ruler few years ago in circumstances I will devote another article to highlight, I wondered whether he is now suffering from amnesia or senility. I quickly ruled out the latter because it is an ailment associated with old age. Ohiri by sheer guessing, may be in his early fifties hence senility is ruled out. The possible ailment could therefore, be amnesia. Or was he even pretending to be suffering from amnesia when he granted that nonsensical press conference?
Whichever, the fact remains that Ohiri goofed. This is the governor’s fight, why bring himself on the firing line? He was too aggressive and frontal. Diplomacy would have been a better option for him.
We ask Ohiri what happened to Suit No: HOW/525/2013 which he filed in Owerri High Court seeking the Court to declare him Chairman of Imo State Council of Ndi-Eze and stop Eze Ilomuanya from parading / claiming to be the Chairman? On May 26, 2014, the Court not only dismissed Ohiri’s suit as been ‘vexatious, frivolous and detestable”, but also ordered Ohiri to pay N20,000 to Eze Ilomuanya for challenging his Chairmanship of Ndi-Eze in Imo State. Please see Page 2 paragraghs 3 and 4 of the judgment Order endorsed by one I. O Mirikwe Esq (Assistant Chief Registrar I) and Presiding Judge, N.B Ukoha. Ohiri paid the money when the Court moved to order seizure of his staff of office and other properties.
How can Ohiri be talking of Eze Ilomuanya not been a traditional ruler because of a baseless and unlawful beer parlour radio announcement, Prof Anthony Anwukah made on IBC radio on June 6, 2014? This was in clear contravention of the Court of Appeal judgment of July 5, 2013, the Imo State of Nigeria Traditional Rulers and Autonomous Communities Law No. 6 of 2006 and the judgment of Hon. Justice Paschal Nnadi (now Chief Judge of Imo State) of March 20, 2013 as well as the constitution and Bye-Laws of Obinugwu Community. I have never seen where illegality begat legality.
Before I proceed further to dissect the laws and judgments mentioned above, it is imperative to advise FCC Jones to pay maximum attention to what follows next because they also address the issues he myopically raised against Eze Ilomuanya in his needless replay to his former benefactor, former Governor Ohakim’s letter to Okorocha.
Initially, I had wanted to separate Ohiri from Jones but that has obviously proved intricate because both are birds of identical plumage. They reason warply, love crumbs and can do anything shenanigan to please their master in so far as the pay is right.
I refer Ohiri and Jones to pages 22 and 23 of the Court of Appeal Judgment of Friday, July 5, 2013 which declared unlawful, the governor’s breach of Imo State of Nigeria Traditional Rulers and Autonomous Communities Law No. 6 of 2006 and the sacking of Eze Ilomuanya and his Council. Note, the Court of Appeal three justices were unanimous in their judgment. One of the reliefs granted was that the Governor by himself, servants, agents or howsoever was restrained from doing anything that will truncate the tenure of office of Eze Ilomuanya until the expiration of his five years tenure of office (underlining mine).
This is simple grammar unless Ohiri and Jones now want the public to question the validity of the certificates they are parading or how they even managed to pass English Language at O’ Level WAEC.
The underlined words – “anything and truncate” tell the story lucidly. If you anything whatsoever to dethrone Eze Ilomuanya or truncate his tenure in any manner, as the governor did on June 6, 2014 while the Court of Appeal judgment subsists, such an action holds no water in law. Useless and unlawful decisions are not meant to be obeyed. This was exactly what Okorocha did and Ohiri and Jones are blindly applauding him. But the Federal Government through the office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, knows better and has said “NO” to this illegality and unlawful conduct.
Again, Governor Okorocha claimed to have relied on a non-existent Imo State House of Assembly Resolution of December 14, 2011, as basis for withdrawal of Eze Ilomuanya’s Certificate of Recognition. This is absurd!.
This Kangaroo Resolution falsely accused Eze Ilomuanya of being an ex-convict. First, they said one Clement Obodo from Obinugwu Community brought the petition to that effect. Same day, Obinugwu people numbering over 2000 stormed the Imo Assembly with a Disclaimer petition addressed to the Speaker with a Special Resolution of the Community dated August 18, 2011 attached thereto. These petition and Resolution were signed by the then President General of Obinugwu Development Union (O.D.U) Engr. V.C Igiri, General Secretary, Sir Fred Okeke and late Traditional Prime Minister, Prof. Romanus Unaegbu. Clement Obodo was discovered to be a fake name as nobody like that exists in Obinugwu.
Shamelessly, the aggressors swiftly recanted and now said the petition was signed by one Ikechukwu Obi, another fictitious name and no longer Clement Obodo. Within one hour same day, the House adopted the worthless petition and resolved that Eze Ilomuanya was indeed an ex-convict in Calabar Judicial Division. Wonderful! This kind of abracadabra is still happening till date in Imo State. They should ask Imo APC Chairman, Chief Hilary Eke what he passed through in Kuje Prisons over his publication and what led to his apology to Eze Ilomuanya on the same matter.
However, on March 20, 2013, Justice Paschal Nnadi (now Chief Judge, Imo State) threw the House Resolution into the garbage bin. He not only declared the useless Resolution of the House “null and void and of no effect whatsoever” but also expressed shock at the “break neck speed” the House concluded the investigation in one day. Ohiri and Jones should read the 20 pages judgment to enrich their knowledge.
The Honourable Judge was even lenient to have waived the N1 billion damages Eze Ilomuanya slammed on the House members as Claim. In their cunning wisdom, the members ran away and never appealed the judgment just Ohiri also vamoosed after judgment in Suit No HOW/525/2013. Smart guys indeed!
Now, to Anwukah’s beer parlour announcement of June 6, 2014, I refer Ohiri and Jones (the Joneser) to “the Constitution and Bye-Laws of Obinugwu Autonomous Community” 1996, which is still extant till date. Obinugwu was granted Autonomous status on January 31, 1996 (see Page 1). Membership of the Community was spelt out herein. I shall come to this later in respect of the impostor, Stanley Nwangwu from Ndiuche-Okoro Arondizuogu in Ideato North L.G.A, whom Governor Okorocha wanted to foist on Obinugwu people but which failed woefully.
Articles 1(1.4), 4.5(1v) and 4.6 of Obinugwu Constitution and Bye-Laws prescribe the membership of Obinugwu Community, qualification and process of selecting “The Obi” respectively. None of this criterion was met by the governor or his alien stooge, Nwangwu, whom he abominably wanted to impose on the people of Obinugwu to push them into a collision course with their ancestors. God forbid!
Particularly Article 1(1.4) on Page 1, states thus on membership: “without prejudice to any other section of this constitution, any person
- Whose father is an indigene of the Community or
- Married to an Obinugwu son – shall be regarded as a member of the Community. For the avoidance of doubt, an indigene shall mean somebody whose fore-father can be traced to the origin of Obinugwu”
Obviously, the origin of Stanley Simeon Nwangwu, Okorocha’s lackey, does not in any way near this constitutional provision. Obinugwu is just his maternal home. Unless Ohiri and Jones can no longer decipher between A and B, else they should go and apologize to Eze Ilomuanya before it’s too late.
In a refutal titled: “Disclaimer Notice: Obinukabi Village Declares Mazi Stanley Simeon Nwangwu, a persona-non grata” dated September 28, 2014, the people of Obinukabi village in Obinugwu Community disowned Nwangwu for falsely claiming to be from their village in publications he made in Daily Sun Newspaper of September 13, 2014 (page 15) and City Star newspaper of September 24 – 27, 2014 (Page 8).
In the disclaimer, notice published in several newspapers, the Obinukapi village stated that Stanley Nwangwu is related to them through his mother, late Mrs. Onuigwe Obiekwe. For emphasis, paragraph 4 of the disclaimer notice signed by Chief Charles Amah (village Chief), Mr. Julius Ogbenna (Village Chairman), Mr. Okechukwu Okafor (Secretary) and several other Elders, states: “Mazi Stanley Nwangwu is NEVER a bona-fide indigene of Obinukabi Village in Obinugwu Autonomous Community, Orlu L.G.A, Imo State. He is only related to us as NWADIALA through our sister, late Mrs. Onuigwe Obiekwe who was married to late Mr. Okafor Ogbamgba from the family of Okoro-Aniche in Ndiuche of Arondizuogu, Ideato North L.G.A, Imo State”. Other succeeding paragraphs are equally very illuminating.
Besides, an Orlu High Court in 1985, made it clear that Okorocha’s kinsman, Stanley Nwangwu is not from Obinugwu in Suit No: HOR/79/84. The Court presided by Hon. Justice J. Ogu Ugoagwu had ruled on an application by Nwangwu to be joined as Intervener/Applicant in a case between two Obinugwu Chiefs viz Chief Daniel Unaegbu (Plaintiff/Respondent) and Chief Francis Adiruo (Defendant/Respondent).
The Court dismissed Nwangwu’s application for joinder in the Suit on grounds that he was not an indigene of Obinugwu. The Court held inter alia that “the Intervener (Stanley Nwangwu) is not a true and strict indigene of Obinugwu Ihitte Owerre, that Nwangwu Okafor, father of the Intervener was a native of Arondizuogu brought over by his mother, Onuigwe to Obinugwu Ihitte Owerre where he grew up, married and begat the Intervener (Stanley Nwangwu). . . in the final result, this motion for joinder of the Intervener, Stanley Nwangwu as a Co-defendant in this suit is hereby dismissed”. (see pages 11 and 12 of the Ruling dated May 3, 1985).
Comments are free but facts are sacred. Truth may be suppressed for a while but it eventually triumphs. I hope Ohiri and EFCC Jones (sorry, FCC Jones) are still reading this educative epistle free of charge. No rational person hoards knowledge.
Law No. 6 of 2006
This Law never empowered the governor to act brazenly and unlawfully as he did. The governor is not a lawyer but the Attorney General of the Federation is and has told the governor emphatically that he is wrong and should reverse himself but the governor feels otherwise.
Section 12(1) of this law provides that an inquiry be set up to investigate allegation of grave misconduct against a recognized Eze. Where such inquiry is initiated by the governor, the House must ratify such. Sections 13(1) and 14(1) as well as Section 36(1) of the 1999 constitution is clear on this too. Section 14(1) has sub-sections which are conditions precedent before the governor can exercise power granted him on Section 14(1), but they mischievously failed to tell the world these sub-sections.
Section 7 states that recognition of an Eze is by an instrument (underlining mine). Thus, any withdrawal of Certificate of Recognition shall also be an instrument and not radio announcement please see case of Minister of Internal Affairs Vs Edmund Okoro and others (2004) 1NWLR PT. 853 P. 158 where it was held that “while instrument or legislation has a force of law, a telephone conversation is a related message and falls short of any legal interpretation”. Therefore, neither the Press Release signed by Anwukah nor the radio and T.V announcements by him suffices or complies with Law No. 6 of 2006 or any other extant law. See Kuusu Vs Udom (1990) 1 NWLR PT. 127 P. 421
Furthermore, section 106(a) (ii) of the Evidence Act forbids what Okorocha purportedly did which Ohiri and Jones are ignorantly clapping at. In the eyes of the law, the governor merely spoke to be clapped for and that’s where it ends, Q.E.D.
Ohiri and Jones must realize that in a civilized world, there is a limit to executive rascality and lawlessness. The House of Assembly Resolution Okorocha claimed to have relied upon is dead, having been quashed by the Court. The Law No. 6 of 2006 was also placed on its head ditto for Court of Appeal judgment and others. Deductively, Okorocha’s action tantamount to building a house on nothing. It has already fallen like a pack of cards.
Honestly, the whole charade is nauseating. It pains me more how FCC Jones sold himself to the dictates of stomach infrastructure without weighing other more reasonable options. Jones used to be a rambunctious writer liked by many. But today, he has plummeted in integrity as evidenced in the path he has just embraced and how people upbraid him. May thunder fire this Recession ravaging our economy.
As for Eze Ohiri, I still respect him as a traditional ruler and fellow Ecolian (Emmanuel College Alumnus). But he should watch his tongue and learn to speak with bridled caution. Playing to the gallery always is a destructive virtue, unbecoming of a royal father.
I also advise him to withdraw his empty threat to journalists against addressing Eze Ilomunaya as “Eze”. Of course, they are mocking him and have equally dared him to carry out his threat. He can never win Press War. Let him try and see what happens.
To me, any write-up or essay should be able to communicate effectively and also educate the readership. Any write-up which fails in this obligation incontrovertibly falls within the realm of what William Shakespeare described as “tail of an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing”.
What transpired in Nkwerre at last Friday, April 21, 2017, burial ceremony involving the Nwosu-Iheme’s family, between Governor Okorocha and Eze Ilomuanya, ought to be very thought provoking for Ohiri and FCC Jones. At the event in discourse, the governor embraced Eze Ilomuanya and called him “my brother”. He further addressed him as “Eze Ilomuanya” and handed kolanut to him for blessing as Eze to the amazement of all present. Ohiri and Jones should use their brains if at all they can still reason rationally beyond pettiness.
On a final note, I am anxiously waiting for Ohiri and Jones reaction to this. They should prove me wrong. I will gladly oblige them further counter response. According to late literary ICON, Prof. Chinua Achebe, “An old woman is never old when it comes to the dance she knows very well”.