By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The traditional ruler of Nawfia community Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, Igwe Ogochukwu Daniel Obelle, has dismissed as untrue, the insinuations that there is a parallel monarch in the town, in the person of one Mr. Chijioke Nwankwo, who also parades himself as same.
Igwe Obelle cleared the air while briefing newsmen at his palace, Nawfia, on Friday to herald his new yam festival. The monarch, during the briefing, made it emphatic that he is the only authentic and government-recognized traditional ruler in the community, given that he was constitutionally elected by the people and has his certificate of recognition with him.
He revealed that his election as the Nawfia monarch held in February 2022, after which he was issued certificate of recognition by former Governor Willie Obiano that same year.
According to him, Nawfia is a constitutional monarchy, meaning that one cannot become a monarch in the community without following the due constitutional process and provisions. Among other conditions, he said anybody who must be the monarch of the community must be married, fairly educated, and not a drug addict; adding that he met all the condition and was popularly elected by the people after he polled over 60 percent of the total votes cast in the election.
The monarch, however, said he was surprised that after his election and coronation, an ousted regent of the community, Mr. Nwankwo, who was appointed out of sympathy to hold the position of regency after his father and late Igwe of the community, FFBC Nwankwo, was brutally murdered in 2001; started claiming he is the traditional ruler of the community.
“Every Nawfia person knows that since 2001 when Nwankwo was appointed as the regent of Nawfia, he was never declared or crowned the traditional ruler of the community. His appointment as a regent was done out of sympathy, because of his father’s assassination, so as to help find out what happened to his father, our former king.
“He was appointed as a regent, which was meant to last for only five years, and which had already expired long ago. His regency had expired since 2006, but he kept parading himself.
“If Chijioke Nwankwo claims to be an Igwe, tell him to produce his certificate as Igwe. In the archive of government in Awka, there is no other existing certificate for Nawfia monarch, except mine. So Chijioke Nwankwo cannot be claiming to be Igwe. Who crowned him? And where is his certificate?” he questioned.
Igwe Obelle, a diplomat, clarified that the bestowment of regency on Nwankwo was in granting of a request by the then cabinet Chairman, Mr. Moses Obi. He said it was the man, who died few weeks ago at the age of 97, that persuaded that Nwankwo be made a regent after his father’s death. He, however, said the cabinet does not have power to crown monarch in Nawfia, hence Nwankwo’s regency cannot be mistaken for monarchy under any condition.
“He was not duly elected by the people. He also stated by himself in 2015 that he was not a monarch,” he said.
He noted that Nwankwo had tried to remove him as Nawfia monarch sometime in June 2022 through a High Court sitting in Awka, but only ended up securing a court ruling that set aside his certificate of recognition. He however said he had long appealed the ruling at the Appeal Court, where he sought two reliefs from the Appellant Court — (1) to allow the appeal and (2) to set aside the ruling of the High Court — and which he said were both granted by the Appeal Court since September 27, 2022.
Igwe Obelle also presented the journalists with some copies of documents relevant to the matter, including a copy of his certificate of recognition signed and issued to him by former Governor Willie Obiano, copies of notice of appeal from the Appeal Court containing the decisions of the Court, copies of his letter to the Anambra State Police Command and the Director of the Department of State Service (DSS) in Anambra about the decision of the Court of Appeal on the matter and about the threat to his life by Nwankwo; as well as copies of the public notice recently issued by Nwankwo referring to himself as Igwe Nawfia after celebrating new yam festival as same; among other documents.
“The Appeal court granted our due reliefs — to allow us appeal, and to set aside the ruling of the High Court. Our prayers were fully granted by the Appeal Court. So, why is the miscreant still trying to cause trouble in Nawfia? Is the Appeal Court no longer a higher court to the High Court from which he secured the rulling? Or can an Appeal Court be subservient to a lower court?” he wondered.
Aside not being constitutionally elected, Igwe Obelle explained that Nwankwo did not even meet other criteria for being a king in the community, as according to him, he (Nwankwo) is still not yet married even at his almost 70 years (against the constitutional requirements), is a school dropout, a forger, and a drug addict who goes around messing up with people of low morality at Abakaliki Street in Awka.
Citing sections 14 and 15 of the Nawfia Constitution, Igwe Obelle also clarified that Nawfia monarchy system is not hereditary to any family, but rotational among the various quarters in the community, and which he historically said was the turn of his quarter, as Nwankwo’s late father had taken the turn of their quarter before his demise in 2001, while his son had additionally served as a regent of the community for years.
“So, looking at all these, you can see that the man is only trying to cause trouble in Nawfia; but we have declared war against him now. We were following him softly before because he hadn’t declared himself Igwe Nawfia; but because of the notice he issued on Thursday, referring to himself as the traditional ruler of Nawfia, he has taken it to another level; and we will also take it to another level with him,” he said.
While noting that he has a good working relationship with the President General of the town, the Transition Committee Chairman for Njikoka Local Government Area, and other relevant stakeholders from the community and the local government areas, including the heads of security agencies in the State; Igwe Obelle said this was a crystal proof that he has the mandate of the people.
He recalled that Nwankwo could not point to a single thing he achieved as a regent throughout his years of regency; but however cited some of the positive changes the community has witnessed in less than two years after his coronation as Nawfia monarch. He also said that the community had become more peaceful and united since he became the traditional ruler in 2022, adding that the election of the election of the President General of the community which produced Chief Daniel Okoye Okongwu as Nawfia PG was peacefully and successfully held; while the women of the community also recently held an election (which produced Mrs. Uju Nwoye as their Leader) for the first since after the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War.
The monarch further recounted some of his peace-keeping missions and appeasement efforts in the community since and before he became the monarch, including over some “atrocities” committed by Mr. Nwankwo, whom he said locked up many youths and elderly people in prison for many years over his allegations that they were responsible for his father’s death.
“I am the only traditional ruler in Nawfia. There is no other monarch existing anywhere in the town. Any other person who claims to be existing as Nawfia monarch is existing in the air. And Nawfia people know their monarch, period!” he concluded.
Present during the press briefing were the wife of the monarch, Mrs. Florence Obelle; the Chief of Staff to the monarch, Chief Uchenna Aghamba; the Cabinet Secretary, Chief Obiora Nwankwo, among other members of the cabinet, as well as other stakeholders and religious leaders.
The monarch thereafter, ushered the guests into the new yam festival proper. The festival, which began with prayers, also featured the ritual cutting of yam and Ịrọ̀ Ofe Mmụọ performed by Igwe Obelle, after which the guests were treated to sumptuous meal, raging from roasted yam with well-garnished local yam sauce, among other local delicacies, all served under the melodious tunes of the Ikoro/Uhie cultural dance.