By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The Anambra State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne, has declared that the traditional stool of Nawfia Community in Njikoka Local Government Area of the State is currently not occupied by anyone.
This is coming even at the heat of the Igweship tussle rocking the community, where two persons —Chijioke Nwankwo and Ogochukwu Daniel Obelle parade themselves as the traditional ruler of the community.
While Nwankwo had recently and secretly celebrated his 2023 new yam festival without the knowledge of the state government, Obelle has scheduled his own to hold sooner, also without the authorization of the state government.
The former, Nwankwo has also recently issued a note of warning to members of the community, emphasizing that no one should take part in the event, as the community had already celebrated its new yam festival, hence heightening the already rising tension in the community.
However, when contacted by this reporter, Izunna Okafor; Commissioner Nwabunwanne emphatically stated that neither Obelle nor Nwankwo is currently occupying the traditional stool of Nawfia.
The Commissioner, who went memory lane on the Nawfia Igweship tussle, revealed that the issue began during the past administration in the state, after the immediate-past administration suspended the then Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo. He narrated that thereafter, a new traditional ruler, in the person of Daniel Obelle was elected and issued a certificate of recognition as the new monarch of the town, while Nwankwo’s suspension had not been lifted.
According to him, the matter was then taken to the court which gave a rulling that has not been overturned till date.
He said the High Court sitting in Awka, in its ruling, ordered the second traditional ruler, Obelle, to stop parading himself as the traditional ruler of the community.
He, however, said the court did not rule that the first monarch, Nwankwo’s certificate of recognition that was withdrawn from him when he was suspended should be given back to him; but rather ordered that status quo ante be maintained.
“There is a court rulling that Dan Obelle should stop parading himself as the traditional ruler of Nawfia.
“Meanwhile, the court did not, however rule that Nwankwo’s certificate should be returned to him. Instead, the court ordered a return to the status quo. And, by implication therefore, the two should stop parading themselves as traditional rulers of Nawfia,” he said.
When asked what the state government is doing to permanently resolve the over eight-year-old matter, Commissioner Nwabunwanne explained that the state government cannot do anything at the moment since the matter is still in the court. He stressed that they government stands with the with the rulling and position of the court, and cannot afford to be seen as preempting the court or flaunting the court order.
“The matter is before the court, and we cannot act until the court pronounces its judgement. In other words, both of them must stop parading themselves as traditional rulers, pending the outcome of the court judgment.
“And that was why I said that Nawfia has no traditional ruler for now, because, as long as that court rulling is concerned and as long as it has not been overturned, the Nawfia traditional stool is empty now, and will remain like that till court says otherwise,” he maintained.
Commenting on the recent protest by the indigenes and residents of Isuaniocha community of Awka North Local Government Area of the State over matters relating to Igweship tussle and alleged selling of some portions of land belonging to the Isuaniocha Community Secondary School by few persons; the Commissioner said the state government had already begun taking steps towards bringing a lasting solution to the crises rocking the community.
“The Governor has directed that we set up a committee to look into their matters and find a lasting solution to each problem.
“Although there had been white paper gazetted on matter before by the previous administration. Probably the resolution contained therein didn’t go down well with the people. However, government is a continuity; and that is why we want to set up another panel, to look at what the previous administration did and what we can do to restore a lasting peace in the community,” Commissioner Nwabunwanne concluded.