By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state has dismissed the notion by cross section of Ogbunka people in Orumba South local government area that his government has recognized Chief JohnMark Anyaoha as the traditional ruler of Ogbunka against the chioce of the Community.
Obiano reassured Ogbunka people that his government just intervened to restore order, peace and unity, pleading with all parties to remain calm as Government will resolve the Igweship tussle impartially.
Obiano who spoke through the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy & Community Affairs, Hon Greg Ikechukwu Obi while addressing the community members called on factions in Ogbunka Igweship tussle to remain calm, while his government works out modalities to resolve the crisis and return peace to the community.
Hon Greg Obi while addressing the people of Ogbunka dismissed the claim that the state government has recognized any of the candidates as the new traditional ruler but instead assured that the state government is working on modalities to decide who becomes the rightful traditional ruler of the community.
In the words of the Commissioner, Hon Greg Obi: “It is communities that select their traditional ruler after which there is a procedure for recognition of who becomes the traditional ruler.
“From your complaints, it looked as if the government went to Ogbunka and enthroned one person to become the traditional ruler. It is not true and we don’t do such things. Government has not recognized anybody as the traditional ruler of the community.
“From your complaints it looked like there are two contestants but I will tell you that in some communities there are three or more people angling for a traditional stool. When all of them bring petitions to the government, what we do is to study it and even send to the police and DSS to study too. The essence is to discover whether it is in line with the procedure and constitution of the town before the governor will know the right person to recognize as the traditional ruler.
“You must not listen to outside rumours as government has not recognized anybody as traditional ruler of Ogbunka. We will take time to study everything that came from ogbunka after which we decide who to recognize as the rightful traditional ruler of Ogbunka.
“We have received your letter and will put it among the files of Ogbunka for further study. I plead on people of the community to remain calm and wait on the government’.
Recall that the hitherto peaceful town of Ogbunka was engulfed in crisis earlier this year following the emergence of two traditional rulers who emerged in separate elections.
Dr Forster Ezenwa Ihejiofor was allegedly crowned monarch by the Community while Chief Johnmark Anyaoha was allegedly crowned monarch by a handful.
While it was alleged that Chief Johnmark Anyoha was crowned surreptitiously with the aid of government officials, and cabals in corridors of power ; others said it was done at night by a fraction of people stoking crisis in the community; however, his rivalry, Dr. Forster Ihejiofor who was said to be the preferred candidate by the stakeholders of the town was crowned in the open and he performed all the rites needed by the Ogbunka people.
Some accused the member representing Anambra East and West in the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Chinedu Obidigwe of leading a cabal sponsoring Chief JohnMark Anyaoha to be the Igwe of Ogbunka, but our correspondence to Hon Obidigwe is yet to be reacted to. Meanwhile, the Ogbunka Youth Association has opened up on the Igweship crisis in their Community, warning those stoking trouble to desist or meet with the wrath of the youths evens as they declared support for Igwe Dr Forster Ihejiofor, Anyaoha, against his rival.
In a communique issued at the end of their general emergency meeting held at Ogbunka Civic Centre on Friday 15th January, 2021, the youths declared, “It has become imperative at this point, that we clearly state the facts for all and sundry to know, and also make our position clearly known on issues concerning the traditional throne of Ogbunka ancient Kingdom.”
Signed by youth leaders of the villages in Ogbunka includingAwuka Youth Leader, Okoli Chinedu; Isiokpu Youth Leader, Umeh Nnaemeka; Agbala Youth Leader, Anula Micheal; Umunobe Youth Leader, Anyacho Ignatius and Akwuoba Youth Leader, Ezeabikwa Chidozie, the youths disclosed that Ogbunka has been without a traditional ruler for the past 12 years, after the demise of the late Igwe Esiobu, which then necessitated the entire town to come up with a new and generally accepted ruler, via an election process.
The youths continued: “To our greatest surprise and shock, on the 2nd of December 2020, one Mr JohnMark Anyaoha, boycotted all laid down procedures and structures in Ogbunka, secretly gathered a few old men and purportedly crowned himself “king”! He immediately rushed to Awka to deceive and hoodwink the authorities into legalizing the travesty of his emergence.”
“Ogbunka only woke up to hear about this abomination and in a general outcry, both the young and old, men and women, home and abroad, were so outraged at the arrogance and spite on Ogbunka by Mr Johnmark, that we quickly marched to Awka to alert the government of this illegality, and strongly dissociate our self from Johnmark Anyaoha.
The youth went further to state that on 5th of December 2020, the traditional leaders of the entire five villages of Ogbunka, the Amala, Titled chiefs, Red cap Chiefs and Kingmakers of Ogbunka, gathered in a general ceremony in the presence of Ogbunka Development Union and the general public, to elect the true King of Ogbunka, HRH Igwe Ohazurume Chief Dr Forster Ihejiofor, Nka 1 of Ogbunka.
“The ‘offor’ or symbol of authority was also publicly handed to our new Igwe,” the statement added.
In addition, on the 7th of January 2021, the heads of all traditional authority in Ogbunka ancient Kingdom, the individual heads of all five villages in Ogbunka and holders of the village symbols of authority, also gathered to present HRH Igwe Dr Forster Ihejiofor, with a formal letter of recognition, as the Igwe of Ogbunka Kingdom.
“Today, we the general body of Ogbunka Youth Association, also publicly declare HRH Igwe Dr Forster Ihejiofor, as the duly elected and constitutionally recognized Igwe of Ogbunka kingdom,” the youths said.
Ogbunka youths however expressed dismay that after the popular choice of Igwe Dr Forster Ihejiofor by Ogbunka people, another person in the name of Mr JohnMark Anyaoha, is presenting himself as Igwe of Ogbunka Kingdom “Our problem is that Mr JohnMark Anyaoha crowned himself “King. That is NEVER done in Igboland! It is an abomination, a travesty, “Nso ala,” the communiqué read.
It also disclosed that Mr JohnMark Anyaoha has stubbornly refused to accept the general decision of Ogbunka home and abroad, Ogbunka Development Union, titled chiefs, red cap chiefs and kingmakers from all five villages.
“He has continued to sow seeds of discord and foment trouble amongst our people with blatant lies, intimidation, blackmail, manipulation and other vices, while still parading himself as a “self-crowned king”. It is ironical to note that Mr JohnMark Anyaoha calls himself “Igwe-elect”. The question everyone should ask him is: Elected by who? The statement read.
The youths of Ogbunka therefore among other agreements resolved that they won’t fold their arms and allow their Community to go up in flames, thus they are appealing to the state government to recognize Dr Ihejiofor as their traditional ruler or conduct fresh election for all parties.