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Again! Ejemekwuru boils over Ezeship tussle

Indigenes insist on constitutional provisions to elect new monarch

President General under pressure to install choice candidate after taking N4million bribe

By Stanley Okehie

Election for a replacement monarch for Ejemekwuru autonomous community in Oguta Local Government Council took a different dimension weekend when soldiers threatened to shoot indigenes of the area.
Nigerian Newsguide gathered that what could have resulted to a blood bath on Saturday was averted following the timely intervention of top military heads in Abuja, which saw a detachment of soldiers deployed for the exercise, return to Barracks.

Even an order from the Imo State House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Local Government and Rural Development, Autonomous Communities and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Kennedy Ibeh, for a stay of action on Saturday’s election, could not stop a cabal said to be headed by the President General of the community, Kyrian Igwebuike from carrying out their plot.
Youths of Ejemekwuru who trooped to the field to dislodge canopies erected for the election after the fierce-looking soldiers had left, were however surprise to discover that some of the ballot boxes for the election had thousands of thumb printed ballot papers for a particular candidate contesting the ezeship stool.

The Interim Management Committee Chairman of Oguta, Hon. Emma Mazi is said to be working in cahoots with the PG to foist an unpopular candidate, Nze Obinna Hypolite Duru, on the people of Ejemekwuru, with the support of soldiers.
Concerned citizens of the community had vehemently foiled all attempts to rig the election in favour of Nze Duru, including obtaining a paper from the State House of Assembly to discontinue with preparations for last Saturday’s election until all material issues raised in their petition are resolved.

A copy of the letter dated 25th February, addressed to the President General and availed to Nigerian Newsguide reads in part:
“You are by this letter urged to immediately discontinue till further notice, all actions on the attempted election or selection of a replacement Eze for the Ejemekwuru Autonomous Community.
“The Imo State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Rural Development, Autonomous Communities and Chieftaincy Affairs is ceased of a petition by Concerned Citizens of Ejemekwuru Autonomous Community dated 25th February, 2021, where serious allegation of acts capable of causing mayhem in Ejemekwuru Autonomous Community as well as demeaning the dignity of the Imo State House of Assembly were raised. Most vexatious is the allegation of a calculated attempt to disenfranchise members of the community; such a bogus breech of the clear provisions of the Nigerian Constitution in this 21st Century.
“The stay of action on the proposed election shall inure pending the resolution of all material issues of fact raised in the petition.”

Speaking to Newsmen on Saturday, after youths of the community foiled attempts by the President General and Co, for the second time, to conduct an election in violation of the orders of the State House of Assembly, a major contestant in the race, Nze Everest Chima alleged that the president general, Kyrian Igwebuike was under pressure to deliver his choice candidate, Nze Obinna Hypolite Duru.

Nze Everest said the PG took a bribe of N4million from Duru’s son to install his father as the traditional ruler of Ejemekwuru, attributing same to the reason why the PG had been devising every means to rig the election in favour of Nze Duru to justify the bribe he collected.

“The son of the contestant called him (the PG) earlier, and asked how much it would cost to install his father as the Eze of Ejemekwuru, the PG said N4million. He collected the money and shared some with members of his committee”, Nze Everest said, while condemning the IMC Chairman’s role in the ezeship election saga.
Another contestant, Nze Dominic Opara blamed the Town Union Executive headed by the PG for the ezeship crisis in Ejemekwuru.

According to him, “the town union misinterpreted a section of the ezeship constitution, which stated that every indigene, 18 years and above, is free to vote. But they insisted that before one can vote, he must pay money to obtain a card, that was how the problem started.”
He continued, “they tried to organize a kangaroo election on the 6th of February, our people resisted them. The problem is the town union who decided to sponsor a particular candidate. Even some members of the ezeship selection committee have been going round, campaigning for the same candidate.”

Okey Duru, former Secretary General and former member of Ejemekwuru Town Union Constitution Drafting Committee raised concerns over the IMC chairman’s involvement in Saturday’s failed election. He said the Chairman took the community by surprise and unilaterally fixed an election when he promised to schedule a meeting of all stakeholders involved in the election to agree on a particular date.
He also expressed worry over the use of soldiers to intimidate and harass people of his community and wondered why the Chairman and PG should call a bluff of the House of Assembly orders suspending the election for the community, even after receiving letters conveying such order.

Another indigene of the area, Engr. Stanley Tochukwu said none indigenes were paid N2000 and given cards to vote for Nze Duru, regretting why the PG and his group should descend to such level to impose a candidate on the people of Ejemekwuru.
He also condemned the action of the soldiers who readied themselves for a fight with the people of the area before their withdrawal following interventions by some prominent members of the community.
He called on the state government to wade into the matter before it claims lives of innocent citizens.

When contacted, the PG, Kyrian Igwebuike dismissed the allegation of N4million bribe as false and an attempt to discredit his person.
He said the membership card was introduced as a policy in good fate and not to witch hunt anybody or disenfranchise any member of the community.

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