By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The recently-dethroned Traditional Ruler of Umuona community in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, H.R.H. Igwe Humphrey Ejesieme, has finally opened up, and tendered unreserved apologies to the State Government and everybody he might have offended, with regards to the circumstances leading to his dethronement.
It would be recalled that Anambra State Government, on Tuesday, announced the dethronement of Igwe Ejesieme, through a statement signed and issued by the State Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne, in which he also announced the withdrawal of the monarch’s Certificate of Recognition.
The dethronement, according to the Commissioner, was as a result of the monarch’s non-performing of his duties as a royal father, as well as his involvement in fuelling the lingering leadership crisis in the community, which, he said, had lasted for years.
“It has therefore become evident that your position as the traditional ruler of Umuona will continue to jeopardize the peace, security and development of the community.
“Consequently, I hereby convey to you that the Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soluco CFR, has withdrawn your Certificate of Recognition as the Traditional Ruler of Umuona in the interest of peace and order in the community in line with section 10 (b) of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers (Amendment) Law, 2020,” the Commissioner wrote in the letter addressed to the monarch.
Commissioner Nwabunwanne further noted that the community would have a new Traditional Ruler in no distant time.
However, this reporter, Izunna Okafor, authoritatively gathered that, barely few days after the dethronement, Igwe Ejesieme went on his knees to apologize to everyone who might have been offended by him, his leadership style, or his involvement in the said lingering leadership crisis rocking the community.
It was gathered that the monarch apologized to Anambra State Government, Governor Chukwuma Soludo, Commissioner Nwabunwanne, the people of Umuona community, the Aguata Traditional Rulers Council, as well as the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, among others.
Igwe Ejesieme, in the public apology, recalled that his dethronement was mainly because of his support to the Caretaker Committee in the community, led by Mr. Okechukwu Akaneme, as against the government-recognized leadership of Mr. Kenneth Okoli as the President-General of Umuona Progressive Union (U.P.U.).
The rift between the monarch and the government-recognized PG (Mr. Okoli) began sometime in 2020 after he (the PG) was elected on a date the monarch said the election and other public gatherings should not hold in compliance the former Governor Willie Obiano’s safety guidelines for COVID-19 pandemic then.
Aside the emergence of Mr. Okoli as the PG through the election, which, though, held under the supervision of the State Government’s delegation; the rift aggravated when, during the community’s Annual General Assembly (A.G.A.) in December 28, 2022, the monarch and some other members and stakeholders of the community, constituted a Caretaker Committee led by Mr. Akaneme, to take over the leadership of the community. This happened immediately when the incumbent PG, Mr. Okoli and some members of his executives angrily left the meeting because he said the monarch came to the meeting without notifying him.
However, since then, what could be better described as the cat-and-mouse relationship between Igwe Ejesieme and the PG, Mr. Okoli, worsened, following the monarch’s creation of the parallel government, which he said the community unanimously endorsed in pursuance of a section the community’s constitution that says there shouldn’t be any vacuum in the leadership of the community.
The monarch had, since then, refused to dissolve the Caretaker Committee, despite having been summoned and pleaded several times by the State Government and the Traditional Rulers Councils, to dissolve the Akaneme-led Committee and allow the PG (Mr. Okoli, whose tenure will end this December) to continue to pilot the affairs of the community.
However, tendering his apology few days after his dethronement, the monarch also announced the immediate dissolution of the Caretaker Committee.
While telling Akaneme and his Caretaker Committee members to step aside, the traditional ruler also called on the people of the community to transfer their loyalty to Okoli, the President-General. He further noted that all his actions and comments on the lingering leadership crisis were made out of anger, even as he pledged not to make further social media comments on the issue or flex muscle with the government.
Igwe Ejesieme also pledged to restore a lasting peace in Umuona if he is restored as the traditional ruler of the community.
However, in his response when contacted by this reporter, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Nwabunwanne insisted that there was no going back on the government’s decision on the dethronement.
According to him, the dethronement of Igwe Ejesieme still subsists. He further recalled that the monarch had earlier been pleaded with several times to do that which he had just recently done — dissolving the Caretaker Committee — but he declined to heed to the pleas.
It was also gathered that the PG, Okoli had also earlier apologized to the monarch for his actions that day at the meeting where he rose and left in anger, and urged him to dissolve the Caretaker Committee, but he still refused.
“This was what we kept begging him to do since, but he refused. I know how many times I summoned him on this matter. Even at some occasions, I sent his fellow traditional rulers and the Aguata Traditional Rulers Council to go and beg him, which they did. But he turned them down. And now, he is coming to…
“Sincerely, there’s no going back on the government’s decision. We are not accepting his apologies. And his dethronement still subsists. That is our stand,” the Commissioner said.