By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The Anambra State Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne, has described as inciting and untrue, the reports making the rounds and alleging that he and Governor Chukwuma Soludo ‘knocked’, ‘faulted’ and ‘condemned’ the immediate-past Governor Willie Obiano and the actions he took against the 12 traditional rulers in the state who visited former President Muhammadu Buhari without authorization.
It would be recalled that some media reports with different intriguing captions, such as “Soludo’s commissioner knocks Obiano for dethroning 12 monarchs”, “Obiano wrong to depose Anambra monarchs who visited Buhari – Govt”, “Obiano wrong to depose monarchs who visited Buhari during his tenure – Soludo’s Commissioner”, and so on, started trending over the weekend. The publications quoted the Commissioner as saying that the Obiano Administration “got it all wrong” and took actions that were “illegal, unconstitutional, and against the fundamental rights of the monarchs” by suspending them for embarking on the said unauthorized Abuja trip with billionaire business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze.
The publications also quoted the Soludo’s Commissioner as saying that “Many things were done wrongly in the past government in that respect, and that is what we are trying to correct. These things must be got right. Certain impunity should not be allowed to continue.”
However, in an interview with this reporter, Izunna Okafor; the Commissioner who said he was perturbed to see such publications, said the journalists misconstrued his comments and cooked-up such sensational publications, for reasons best known to them.
“We know it’s typical of many journalists to misconstrue one’s comments or statements. I would never make such unfounded statement,” he said.
Commissioner Nwabunwanne elaborated more on the Igweship tussle in Nawfia Community, on which the journalists quoted him as condemning Obiano’s Government for electing and recognizing a new traditional ruler, in the person of Igwe Daniel Obelle, while the authentic monarch ruler, Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo, was still serving his suspension then as one of the 12 traditional rulers who embarked on the Abuja trip. The Commissioner, who said the matter was still in the court, also frowned at how the publications also wrongly quoted him as saying that he would make a pronouncement on the matter ahead of the court’s ruling.
He said: “Some journalists came to my office and sought my opinion on the Nawfia Igweship tussle, especially as both of them are about to celebrate their new yam festival at the same time.
“What I simply said was that ‘both of them cannot parade themselves as traditional rulers, pending the outcome of the court judgment.’
“I further stated that after the suspension of the first traditional ruler, there was also a ruling from the High Court, stopping the second traditional ruler who was issued the certificate, from parading himself as the traditional ruler of the community; and we cannot be seen as flaunting that court order.
“Sincerely, I was wrongly quoted. My response was that ‘the matter is before the court, and we cannot act until the court pronounces its judgement.’”
Continuing, he said, “Thereafter, I was asked why the equally-suspended traditional ruler of Abacha, Igwe Engr G.B.C. Mbakwe, had not received his certificate despite the court judgment to reinstate him. In my response, I said, ‘The legal team is looking into it.’
“They went on to point out that the Abacha judgment said government cannot stop their fundamental rights, and that the suspension was for one year; but certificates were withheld prior to the time.
“In my response, I said ‘Yes, we noticed all these, but because the matter is still in court, we can’t do much.’
“They also asked if there were any laws as at that time, stopping the traditional rulers from traveling. To this, I responded ‘Not to my knowledge.’”
The Commissioner, however wondered why the journalists chose to misquote him despite and after giving them direct and vivid responses to their enquiries. He also wondered what the journalists intended to gain or achieve by dragging Governor Soludo’s name and that of his predecessor, Obiano, into the matter, through the various headlines they gave to the publications.
While advising that things always be done the right way, devoid of sensationalism; Hon. Nwabunwanne also cautioned the journalists to desist from making inciting publications capable of causing skirmish, misleading the public, or overheating the polity, among other implications that may result from such quackery and ill-conceived journalism practice.