Anambra Chieftaincy Tussle: “You Are Compromised” – Igwe Elect To Govt Panel
…No we are not- insists Menakaya, Chairman of Govt Panel
From Christian Chime, Onitsha
There was confusion at the Anambra Government House, yesterday when one of the candidates in the Ojoto chieftaincy tussle, who had earlier been elected and presented as the community’s monarch, Chief Dennis Okafor stormed out of the panel’s set up by Gov Willie Obiano to look into the selection process of their next traditional ruler.
Okafor accused the government of attempting to usurp their Chieftaincy constitution and interfering in the internal affairs of the community.
Among the four candidates who indicated interest in the vacant stool, two later dropped, leaving behind Okafor and Chief Gerald Mbamalu.
Okafor told journalists who were at the Government House premises, venue of the panel’s sitting yesterday, that his Umuofor kindred of the Enugo Ojoto village had successfully selected him and presented him to the Ojoto Akanasato community as Igwe elect.
He was therefore sad that those who lost out now instigated instability in the community under the guise of which the state government was now being railroaded into. Matters got worse when government instead of looking into the issue in dispute now chose to start screening of candidates afresh thereby technically supervising the selection of the traditional ruler for the town.
He faulted this move saying: “selection of candidates for chieftaincy of a community is usually strictly preserve of the citizens of that community and they have sole right to do that. “Government does not choose ruler for a community. It is the community that chooses who rules them”, he argued.
He also accused some of the panel members of compromise for which reason he wrote to Governor Willie Obiano. But he lamented that for some reason, his letter was not acted upon because it may not have been brought to the attention of the governor.
He said: “I have passed through all the processes and fulfilled all obligations and recommendations in line with the constitution of Ojoto and the State Chieftaincy Act 2007 as amended under the supervision of the Ojoto town union otherwise called Ojoto Akanasato Union (OAU).
“Everything regarding my selection as the Igwe Elect of Ojoto is well documented and made available to the State Government, the Police and the Department of State Security (DSS).
He also accused the panel of bringing in strange people who were not authorized by the town’s constitution to participate in screening of candidates.
However, the chairman of the panel and former Minister of Health, Dr. Tim Menakaya dismissed the allegation of compromise against any member of his panel, describing it as very distinguished men and women.
In an interview, shortly after the sitting, Menakaya said: “I will deny that every member of the panel was compromised. But we refused to stand truth on its head. All we have tried to do is to follow to the last letter the words of the constitution of Igwe Ojoto. Every single soul on the panel is man of integrity. I don’t know the reason for anybody to be angry”.
A visibly satisfied Chief Mbamalu said that all the rules stipulated in the process of selection of Igwe Ojoto was followed by the panel which went thoroughly through the constitution line after line, and decided that the only way out was to follow the constitution and conduct a repeat process.
He said the constitution spelt out method and criteria for selecting a traditional ruler for the community.
“The reason we asked government to do the screening is because we cannot be sure of what happens if we decide to go back home with the problem.
“The committee invited all the people eligible to vote-the village chairmen, the okpalas and so on as well as the contestants to witness the screening.
“But it is unfortunate that Okafor insisted that the method was not right. He kept saying that he cannot be part of it because the constitution was not followed. He stormed out of the screening exercise and so automatically he has given up, he has surrendered”
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