Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
The crisis rocking Itim Autonomous Community, Afikpo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State over traditional stool, has deepened.
This was as many prominent leaders of the community petitioned Governor Francis Nwifuru over alleged imposition of new king on the community by the Chairman of the local government, Uchenna Ibiam.
The community has been divided into two over the Chieftaincy Tussle with a faction loyal to the traditional Prime Minister/Regent of the community, Chief Oko Emmanuel Chukwuma and the other to the Spokesperson for the community, Chief Augustine Ekwe Eluu, popularly known as Okabue, in the area.
The Eluu faction has however produced Chief Joseph Mbe Chukwu as the new king of the community and has presented him to the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Uchenna Igwe, for recognition.
But the Traditional Prime Minister ‘s faction had rejected Chukwu’s emergence and presentation to the state government.
It accused the Local Government Chairman, Uchenna Ibiam of imposing Chukwu on the community against the wishes of the people.
Ibiam however could not react to the allegation despite several calls placed to him by our Correspondent.
The group in petition Governor Francis Nwifuru signed by prominent leaders of the Itim community said the autonomous community rejected Chukwu as the new King of Itim.
It was signed by Joseph Oge the Vice Chairman of Traditional Council of Elders of the community, Oko Nnachi, it’s Assistant Secretary, Innocent Mbe, Livinus Ibiam, Chief Moses Aka, Chukwu Okpani, Egwu Oko and many other leaders of the community.
The petition reads: “Please be assured of the total unflinching support and solidarity of the people of Itim Autonomous Community, Afikpo to your quintessential and eclectic administration style.
“Your Excellency, we wish to convey to you the position of the people of Itim Autonomous Community, Afikpo, operating under the aegis of the Traditional Council of Elders of Itim Autonomous Community, Afikpo, which encapsulates the Ekpuke Essa Traditional Council of Elders of Itim, Ekpuke Eto Traditional Council of Elders of Itim, the Ezeogo Cabinet, the Traditional Prime Minister of Itim Autonomous Community and the Onikara Council of Elders of Itim.
“That we totally, vehemently and absolutely reject, in the most deprecating and strongest terms, with utmost chagrin and consternation, the Commando- like hijacking and usurpation of the process for the conduct of the Selection/Election of the Ezeogo Traditional Ruler of Itim Autonomous Community of Afikpo by the Executive Chairman of Afikpo Local Government Council – Hon. Uchenna Nnajiofor Ibiam- to the exclusion of the above named Leaders.
“It is the duty of Ekpuke Essa Traditional Council of Elders of Itim, Ekpuke Eto Traditional Council of Elders of Itim, the Ezeogo Cabinet, the Traditional Prime Minister of Itim Autonomous Community and the Onikara Council of Elders of Itim to identify and select/elect the Ezeogo of Itim Autonomous Community, Afikpo.
“We are most constrained to state unequivocally that the arrogant, disdainful, distasteful and disrespectful manner exhibited by the Executive Chairman of Afikpo Local Government Area, coupled with the overwhelming violent presence of armed personnel of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, sister Security Agencies, armed political thugs and hoodlums organized and orchestrated by the Executive Chairman, Afikpo Local Government Area – Hon. Uchenna Nnajiofor Ibiam – to overwhelm and overawe everybody present at Ogo Mgbom on Saturday, 9th September, 2023, as though Itim Autonomous Community was in an amphitheatre state of war.
“As a result, the entire process for the selection/election of the Ezeogo of Itim was characterised by intimidation, fear, livid and morbid threats and a state of anomie which seriously marred the due process.
“Above all, the Executive Chairman of Afikpo Local Government Area, Hon. Uchenna Nnajiofor Ibiam, threw caution to the wind in spite of several spirited efforts geared towards calling him to order to enable the people of Itim who are statutorily empowered to adopt the requisite procedure as stipulated by Itim Autonomous Community Constitution/Bye Law of Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and other extant Laws of Ebonyi State with regard to the Selection/Election of the Ezeogo of Itim Traditional Ruler of Itim Autonomous Community, Afikpo, Ebonyi State.
“Consequently, the Ekpuke Essa Traditional Council of Elders of Itim and Ekpuke Eto Traditional Council of Elders of Itim met in a Joint Session held at Mgbom Town Hall, Mgbom Village, Afikpo on the 13th Day of September, 2023, where we have resolved to outrightly and totally reject the illegal and unlawful conduct of the Ezeogo of Itim Selection/Election scheduled on Saturday 9th day of September, 2023 at Ogo Mgbom, hijacked, usurped and conducted by the Executive Chairman of Afikpo Local Government Area, Hon. Uchenna Nnajiofor Ibiam
“We passionately appeal to you to use your good offices to call the Executive Chairman of Afikpo Local Government Area, Hon. Uchenna Nnajiofor Ibiam, to order by granting and allowing the people of Itim Autonomous Community to freely identify and select/elect their own Ezeogo Traditional Ruler in accordance with the Itim Autonomous Constitution/Bye Law Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and in consonance with the Traditional Rulers and Autonomous Communities Law, 2009 and the Selection, Recognition and Installation Of A Traditional Ruler and Constitution, Selection and Election of Town Union Executives In Various Communities And Ancillary Unions Or Units In The State In Ebonyi State Executive Order, 2021.
“Be rest-assured that the candidate who would emerge as the Ezeogo-Elect in accordance with the custom, tradition, Itim Autonomous Community Constitution/Bye Law and other extant Laws of Ebonyi State would be very loyal to your Government.
“We shall keep supporting the giant strides being recorded by your Administration,” he said.