As the controversy rages in Ojoto community, Idemmili South council area, Anambra state, the President General (PG) of the Town Union, Dr Edwin Umeghalu, has given a detailed insight on the reported tussle surrounding the selection of a new traditional ruler of the community following the exit of Igwe Augustine Obidiwe who joined the ancestors last year.
According to Umeghalu , two people were entangled by the tussle: Chief Gerald Mbamalu and Chief Denis Adindu Okafor. While Mabalu appear to enjoy the support of the Regency in Council which include the likes of Senator Annie Okonkwo, President People’s Club of Nigeria Chef Joe Ilonze and other heavyweight personalities in Ojoto, Okafor has the full backing of the town union.
Shortly after the announcement of Okafor as Igwe elect by the town union, the Regent in Council led by Mbamalu dismissed the report saying that the Council is not aware of it and thus Ojoto has no Igwe elect. Mbamalu also said that the Anambra State government is also not aware of anybody as Igwe elect of Ojoto.
Senator Annie Okonkwo said that whatever anyone may have done in the guise of selection and presentation of anyone as the Igwe-designate of Ojoto would not stand adding that the process must be openly conducted and announced to the admiration of all.
State government through the Special Adviser to the Governor of Chieftaincy Matters Hon. Ikechukwu Onyeabo admitted that government is not aware of the selection of Okafor as Igwe elect of Ojoto. The government distanced itself from the imbroglio it generated.
However given an insight of the situation in Ojoto, Umeghalu said that Okafor was duly selected as Igwe according to the rules and guidelines of the constitution of the town adding that it is the duty of the town union to select the ruler and not the duty of Regent in Council.
According to him, the constitution of Ojoto clearly states that the igweship stool should be rotational among Ojoto Uno and Ojoto Obofia so it is the turn of Ojoto Obofia because Obidiwe is from Ojoto Uno.
Umeghalu explained “Again the constitution also states that the most senior village in Ojoto obofia will produce the ruler and in that case the pendulum swung to Enugo which is the most senior in Ojoto Obofia.
“Furthermore, in Enugo the most senior kindred which is Umuofor will have to produce the candidate, that is the process according to our constitution and of which and exactly how Okafor emerged as the Igwe elect
The PG also said that it is not the duty of the State government to select a ruler for a Community as according to him, the Anambra State Chieftaincy Laws guiding the selection or election of a traditional ruler 2007 article 07 clearly states that a town is bound to select or elect a traditional ruler according to the rules and regulations of the custom and tradition of the said town.
He said that the community will present the Igwe elect to the local government and subsequently demand for the State recognition and certification from the Governor, adding “so the State don’t have to be aware that Ojoto town union is selecting a ruler but to be sincere we respectfully informed them to come and observe”
Also speaking an age long member of Igwe in Council Ichie Nwafor Samuel Ezeimo said that the selection of igwe Ojoto is purely under the guidelines of the constitution commending the town union for mustering the courage to toe the right part by following the constitution.
Okafor said that he retired from business prematurely to come and work for the development and progress of Ojoto most especially to ensure that the norms and values of the custom and tradition of the town are not ruined by the antics of rich men who after their selfish interest ahead of the overall interest of the town.
The Igwe elect who assured the total support of Ojoto to the reelection bid of governor Willie Obiano added “This is a divine call and to make sure that I didn’t ignore it, I retired from business before the appropriate time, the appropriate time for retirement is 60 but am not up to 60, so I am here to serve and I’m assuring the good people of Ojoto that I will carry everybody along, all the Ichies and everybody are welcome.
“More so I will protect the norms and values of our custom and tradition to the fullest best, am a catholic and as far a I know the catholic respects and promotes the tradition and custom of the people. Finally I assure that things must get right under me.