By Izunna Okafor, Awka
In line with the age-old dictum that “Intimidation is a mask worn by those who fear your potential”, the people of Amakor village in Nanka, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, have called on the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, to intervene over gross intimidation, anti-peace, and destructive activities being meted out to them by the leadership of the community and some money bags in the community.
The villagers made the call in a press conference in Awka, the Anambra State capital, on Tuesday, during which they accused the Traditional Ruler of Nanka community, Igwe Godwin Ezeilo, and the leadership of Nanka Patriotic Union (NPU), led by Mr. Ifeanyi Ezike, as those spearheading the reprehensible activities and intimidation against Amakor.
In the press conference, which was organized under the auspices of Amakor Njikoka Development Union, the villagers said the issue dated back to as far back as when they were denied their rightful turn of producing the Traditional Prime Minister (Onowu) of Nanka community.
The Assistant Secretary of Amakor Njikoka Development Union, Mr Patrick Okoli, who read the text of the press conference on behalf of the Chairman, Mr. Obinna Ilo, explained that rights, privileges and responsibilities (including traditional institutions such as Igwe and Onowu) were shared and taken in order of seniority amongst the seven villages that make up Nanka town, which are (in order of their senior) Agbiligba, Enugwu, Ifite, Amakor, Umudala, Ubahu, and Etiti.
He narrated that, following the 2015 demise of former traditional ruler of the community, Late Igwe Gilbert Ofomata, who hailed from Enugwu village (the second village in the order of seniority), it became the turn of the third village, Ifite village, to produce the next Igwe, which meant that the then traditional prime minister (Onowu) who hailed from the third village would then become the next Igwe and hand over the Onowu position to someone from the fourth village, which is the Amakor village.
He, however, said that the then Onowu who is now the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Godwin Ezeilo, for some malignant motives, connived with the leadership of Nanka Patriotic Union and some money bags in the community and bypassed the people of Amakor village (the fourth village), and handed over the Onowu position to someone from the fifth village (Umudala), Chief Koffi Obijiofor; thereby manipulating the existing order of sharing the traditional institution which has been existing in the community for hundreds of years.
“Upon seeking to know why, some of these men were bold enough to say that Amakor did not have people influential enough to hold such position,” Mr. Okoli said at the press conference.
He further noted that the people of Amakor village, who felt unsatisfied with such injustice, appealed to the monarch and the leadership of Nanka Patriotic Union through more than ten formal protests/letters, all to no avail; and which made them to pull out of Nanka Patriotic Union on August 1, 2019.
“Amakor village, thereafter, approached Aguata High Court, which, in a well-considered judgment, on 28/9/2021, set aside the process that produced Chief Koffi Obijiofor as the Onowu Nanka, removed him and restrained Igwe Godwin Ezeilo, Koffi Obijiofor and others from recognizing him as the Onowu Nanka,” he said
According to him, their disassociation did not go down well with the monarch, the Nanka Patriotic Union and few influential Nankarians who swore that there will be no peace in Amakor; adding that Chief Obijiofor is still parading himself as the Onowu, against the court order. He said, to further destabilize them the more, the monarch and his cohorts also sponsored a parallel government in Amakor village using few indigenes of the village, with whom they began to further deny them all their rights as a village, while also diverting and selling off all the entitlements and privileges accruing to them from the government.
Giving some instances, he said the people diverted and sold the COVID-19 palliatives meant for Amakor village, and have also recently diverted and sold the Anambra State Government-sponsored palm and coconut seedlings/trees to people whose names were not in the list submitted by the leadership of Amakor village, which was contrary to the state government’s directive.
While noting that the leadership of Amakor village has, for long, been dousing tension, and calming down their people who want to physically resist the injustice and intimidation being to their village; the Assistant Secretary further said that the monarch and his cohorts are still fueling the looming crisis.
He said the monarch and his cohorts had now begun to threaten that they will pull down the N12m security gates which the Amakor people constructed on the three major access roads into their village to help prevent criminals and unknown gunmen from using the village as an escape route and pathway as they had always done, especially when being chased by security operatives.
“We are a very peaceful village that faces grove environmental degradation and have been spending a lot from our source in combating gully erosion. We cannot afford intra village or tonusal crisis, hence this letter and appeal to call Igwe Godwin Ezilo, Mr. Ifeanyi Ezike, Chief Koffi Obijiofor and Nanka Patriotic Union to order,” he said.
In their petition to Anambra State Governor, Prof. Soludo, the villagers appealed him to intervene in the matter, to prevent the looming crisis in the community, to avoid it metamorphossing into a full-blown crisis, especially as the State Government is working hard to instill a lasting peace and security in all the communities in Anambra State.
They called on the Anambra State Government to direct Igwe Ezeilo, Nanka Patriotic Union, and Chief Kofi Obijiofor to obey the order of the court as contained in the judgment delivered on 28/09/2021, stop sponsoring crisis in Amakor in particular and Nanka in general; not to pull down the security gates; to return the COVID-19 Palliatives that they diverted, shared and sold to their cronies; to stop interfering in the internal administration of Amakor village and stop threatening the security. architecture. They also petitioned the government to direct the people to let Amakor be and operate independently, until they return the Onowu Nanka stool to Amakor being the rightful village to produce Onowu.
When contacted, the President-General of Nanka Patriotic Union (NPU), Ifeanyi Ezike said the matter was still in court, and refuted the claim of any court judgement on the matter. He also noted that he and the traditional ruler did not sell or divert Amakor’s share of coconut and palm seedlings.
He said: “Some things have been lingering since I resumed office as the President general on 30th December, last year.
“The people of Amakor were aggrieved over the selection of Onowu of Nanka. They have taken the matter to court the for court to interpret Nanka’s constitution to that effect. I don’t know why they chose to go to press when their matter at the court is still pending, and no judgment has been given to that effect.
“The coconut that was brought to the community was given to the seven villages, and all the Chairmen of the villages were given to go and share to their villages. Amakor’s share was given to the vice Chairman, Mr. Godwin Ilechukwu, but maybe some of them refused to go and collect their own. The claim that they were not given is unfounded.
Concerning the security gates, Mr.
Ezike said the claims by Amakor people were mischievous, adding that the matter is also being handled by handled by a committee.
He said: “The gate they were talking about was mounted in January this year. If I had any intention, I would have removed it before now. They just want to cause trouble in the community and have refused to be pacified.
“We have already formed a committee that is now handling the matter. Nanka is a peaceful town, but few individuals are bent on creating scenario that our community has no peace.”