Ezeship tussle tears Ejemekwuru Community apart

PG denied attempt to impose choice candidate, election postponed till further notice

By Stanley Okehie

For the people of Ejemekwuru autonomous community – a community of 18 villages in Oguta Council Area, Imo State, all is not well.

The once peaceful and oil-rich region is currently boiling over their inability to elect a new monarch, two years after the death of HRH Eze Ngozi Val Nwoke.

Nigerian Newsguide can authoritatively report that the well-publicized election to replace the late monarch, could not hold on Saturday, February 6, 2021.

The three candidates contesting the Ezeship stool are Nze Everest Chima, Nze Obinna Hypolite Duru and Dominic Opara, all who are said to be eminently qualified to occupy the coveted seat.

Some indigenes of the community had accused the President General, Mr. Kyrian Igwebuike popularly known as Ebubeke, of placing his personal interest above that of the community by introducing laws that are alien to the people of Ejemekwuru, which resulted to the cancellation of the election last Saturday after waiting for several hours.

“Our PG, Kyrian insisted that registration cards be used for our Ezeship election as against the provisions of our constitution”, Mr. Richmond Okey Duru, past Secretary General of Ejemekwuru Town Union told Nigerian Newsguide in an interview.
According to Duru who had held several positions in the association, Chapter 2, Section 5D of the Ezeship Constitution of Ejemekwuru 2002, states that “Every adult indigene of Ejemekwuru shall have a right to vote but where there is a tie, the Ezeship selection committee shall call for fresh election within seven (7 days) of the election with a tie.”

Duru, however expressed disappointment over the role of the PG in the botched election.

His words; “Kyrian Igwebuike carried the ballot materials to his house when we rejected the use of cards, and in the evening, he announced Nze Obinna Hypolite Duru winner of the election that never took place over the radio and they are preparing to go for presentation to the TC Chairman of Oguta on Monday, 8th February, this is illegal and condemnable, Duru said.

“In our previous elections, we usually queue behind the Ezeship candidates, the use of card is new to us. We reject it and call on the state government to wade into this matter”, Engr. Stanley Tochukwu, another indigene of the area told Newsmen.

Ezeship Selection Committee Chairman, ASP Hyacinth Nkem had three days to the election tendered his resignation, following disagreements with the PG and few members of his committee on the side of the PG.
“As a Police Officer, he said you cannot give him a job and come back to dictate for him how to go about it”, Ngozi Osigwe – an indigene of Ejemekwuru quoted ASP Nkem to have said while addressing the villagers hours before the election was called off.

Continuing, Osigwe said “this implies that the PG was telling him what to do, obviously to use the cards which he printed to rig the election in favour of his favourite candidate, Nze Obinna Hypolite Duru. He tendered his resignation three days earlier and was begged to return to conduct this election. He is not happy with them, that’s why he didn’t even appear in their uniform.”

The Traditional Prime Minister of Ejemekwuru, Nze Nwa Chinemere, the Ekwuruoma II of Ejemekwuru, who is also described as Eje, faulted the use of cards for the ezeship election, describing it as ‘foreign’ to the people of Ejemekwuru.
While insisting that the most transparent process of electing their Eze is when people queue behind their choice candidates as it was done in the past, Eje appealed for calm until a new date for the election is announced.

Nze Everest Chima, one of the ezeship candidates adjudged to have the support of the majority, expressed sadness over the outcome and wondered why the PG insisted that cards be used for the election against the provisions of the Ezeship constitution.

“He brought us here after collecting N500,000 from each of us as a non-refundable fee for the election, only to keep us under this sun from till now, he hasn’t come up with any reasonable thing we can go home with. His appointed electoral committee chairman resigned on Wednesday on the grounds that he can’t force him to do what is not proper for the community, you see, almost all of them are resigning, his treasurer resigned too. Only those in collaboration of running the community in several ways of monetary income are the ones remaining.

He added, “The two Ezes that died, nobody voted with cards. Why should the use of cards come into this one, because he wants to bring in foreigners and give them cards, he decided to print cards when the constitution did not say so. How can one go to pay N1200 in order to cast vote, is it proper? That’s why he printed 1700 cards and gave to one aspirant, the people said no, that’s why election did not hold. The printer who printed the cards said he printed 2,500, but 800 were shared to 16 villages, the rest of 1700, where are they? They went ahead and printed more, in order to flood here with strangers and visitors, but it didn’t work out for them”, Nze Everest lamented.

On why the election was canceled, the Head of DSS, Oguta LGA, who failed to mention his name, said the atmosphere was not conducive, citing security reasons. He said the electoral committee could not resolve their differences and his intervention on the matter yielded no positive result.
Efforts made to speak with the PG, Kyrian and the other two Ezeship candidates proved abortive.
While the PG’s mobile phone was said to be switched off, the other two contestants could not be reached for comments.

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