The Isuaniocha community in Awka North Council Area of Anambra state yesterday staged a peaceful protest at the Government House Awka, rejecting their traditional ruler-issued certificate of recognition by Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Monday.
The protesters numbering over one thousand expressed anger over what they termed imposition of Igwe Mkpuorah Ngini as their traditional ruler, and chanted solidarity songs, waving inscriptions like, “Igweship election was conducted under crisis and confusion”, “We reject Mkpuorah Ngini”, “We have suffered prolonged period of crises sponsored by the Commissioner for Homeland Affairs”, “Isuaniocha need peace – not war”, “Chikodi Anara and Igbakigba leave Isuaniocha alone”
The Caretaker/President General of Isuaniocha, Mr Friedrich Chukwuma Egwunwa, lamenting their ordeal, said that the problem started in 2018 when some persons including present Commissioner for Home land Affairs, Mr Chikodi Anara, allegedly connived and sold vast portion of land belonging to Isuaniocha Community Secondamry School.
Egwunwa who presented their protest letter to the government, through the Special Adviser to the Governor on local government and Community Affairs, .Mr Fidelis Nnazor, said that their activities led to the crises and subsequent threats which forced major stakeholders of the community to run for their safety to neighbouring towns since six years ago while the cabals and their cohorts ran the town affairs with impunity and no respect to elders.
He recalled that the state government had earlier stated that there would be no election in communities that have crises and Isuaniocha is one of such, but wondered why the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Tony Nwabunwanne went ahead to conduct a shabby election where they coarced few individuals to come and stand as the electorate.
“Those who sold our land have been doing everything possible to subdue every evidence,… that is why they connived to present someone to the governor as our Igwe. We don’t accept such imposition, … all we want now is ample peace.
“We appealed to Governor Soludo to urgently address the numerous challenges confronting the community in the last six years”, he said, cautioning that the certificate of recognition issued to the traditional ruler be withdrawn for peace to reign in Isuaniocha town
An elder in the community, Mr Moses Emebo stated that efforts on the path of returning peace to the town through resolutions, consultations and deliberations had gone a long way, when suddenly, they heard that government-issued certificate of recognition to someone the community never voted for or nominated to rule them.
Emebo said, “All the people want is peace, that is why we are here on a peaceful protest. “We want the governor to revoke the certificate and take steps to restore internal peace in the community before the issue of Igwe is laid on the table for the elders and stakeholders to discuss the way forward.
Also narrating their agony, Mrs Chinyere Nweke, an indigene and former governorship aspirant in 2021, regretted that the situation in the community had led to loss of lives while exposing so many of them to danger of attacks.
Addressing the protesters later, the Special Adviser to the Governor on local government and Community Affairs, .Mr Fidelis Nnazor, assured them that government will look into their grievances and protest letter and then take necessary action within one week.
“Government will set up a committee immediately to look into the Isuaniocha matter with a view to resolving it and bring peace back to the town to enable the Soludo administration carry-on his developmental projects in all parts of the state without any hindrance”, Nnazor promised.
However, in his reaction, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Tony Nwabunwanne, said the government did the needful by organizing option A4 election for Isuaniocha to choose their Igwe.
“They requested for government assistance to help elect their Igwe and an election was conducted. One of the contestants polled 329 and the other got 375 votes. HRH Igwe Mkpuorah Ngini was elected and he remains the traditional ruler of Isuaniocha.
“Government is not going back on its decision on the Igwe already recognized and issued certificate. Those protesting are few paid people who don’t want progress in the community.
“Anambra government does not and will never impose a traditional ruler on any community. As far as the government is concerned, we have conducted an election for Isuaniocha. They have land disputes”, Nwabunwanne concluded.