…Warn trouble makers
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
As the bid to produce a new Eze Aro continues to generate controversy, the Okennachi kindred, in charge of selecting the king has opened up on how Prince Eberechukwu Oji emerged as the Eze Aro designate.
The Okennachi kindred which is the traditional kingmakers in Arochukwu ancient kingdom, dismissed one of the contestants, Prince Goddy Idei, laying claims to the crown as an impostor.
Recall that two ezeship candidates from the royal family, Prince Eberechukwu Oji, and Prince Goddy Idei, showed interest in the royal stool.
They were said to have pledged to respect the outcome of the screening process but Prince Idei was said to have rejected the outcome of the process.
Addressing a press conference at Alpha Plus Hotels Amuvi Arochukwu, the leadership of Okennachi kindred urged members of the public not to believe the propaganda peddled by some “misguided individuals.”
Present at the press conference were President General of Okennachi Kindred, Mazi Udo Chijioke; Chairman of the Committee that mid-wifed the selection of the Eze Aro designate, Mazi Emma Kanu Ivi; and Mazi Nkem Okoro.
Others were Mazi Chima Dike, representing the kindred in Diaspora; Okoro Eni Nwaka, Princewill Okoro, Mazi Thomas Okoroji, Mazi Kanu Onwumere, among others.
Mazi Chijioke insisted that Prince Oji’s emergence emerged followed due process.
Warning of dire consequences of disrespecting the revered Aro royal throne, the PG advised members of the public not to buy into the misrepresentations by some elements.
“Both pledged to support whoever emerged winner and consummated the covenant with a traditional libation conducted at “Ukwu Ovo” Arochukwu’s ancestral holy place by the eldest of the royal family, Prince Oji Kanu Oji,” he said.
Mazi Chijioke decried the blackmail being peddled against the kindred over their role in the emergence of the Eze Aro designate, insisting that the kindred was objective.
“It has been a slew of rehashed falsehood, accusations, calumny and damaging misrepresentations propagated against the Okennachi Kindred for the emergence of Prince Eberechukwu Oji, as Eze Aro-Designate,” he said.
Recounting how it all happened, he said: “What happened is that Umu Aro were worried about the non-presentation of a new Eze Aro, more than two years after His Majesty Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro, the late Eze Aro, left the throne of his forefathers to take a well-deserved eternal rest after 25 eventful and transformational years.
“So on November 23, 2022, the Nzuko Arochukwu (Umbrella Town Union) leadership wrote a letter to Okennachi leadership on the matter. On 27th December 2022, the body of Nzuko Arochukwu National Patrons led By Prof. Okoro Ijoma followed suit with a visit to the Okennachi leadership. The Okennachi Kindred was seen as incompetent because of their seeming inability to produce an Eze Aro in time.
“It is important to emphasise that Umu Aro demanded a younger person as successor, especially when they considered that Mazi Oji Kanu Oji, the Okwara Ezi (Head of the Royal family) and the most qualified in line of succession is over 91 years old.
“Faced with this situation, Okennachi Kindred commissioned a group of eminent persons with the mandate to interact with the Princes to broker peace and create the atmosphere to help the Princes come up with a solution on how to give Aro an Eze.
“The effort finally paid off and the older princes agreed that those over 70 years would not participate. We also got the most senior to bless and relinquish his claim to the throne. However, there was still no consensus on who should be Eze Aro as divisions persisted between and amongst the families.
“Following the inability of the royal family to agree on a consensus candidate after almost three years, the Okennachi Kindred developed a framework to select an Eze Aro and on the 22 of September 2023, the report was presented to the Princes/Representatives of the three royal family units.
“The royal families approved the template to be used for the selection and were full of gratitude to the Okennachi Kindred for their intervention. However, it should be noted that even at the meeting the Royal Family Units were encouraged to produce a consensus candidate from among themselves before considering the option of selection by the kindred committee.
“The meeting resolved to pursue the selection option only if the three royal families failed to agree on one consensus candidate. A deadline of 5th October 2023 to submit names of their best candidates was set if they didn’t agree on one candidate.
“Before the 5th October 2023 deadline, Okennachi Kindred had received nominations in writing for the throne of Eze Aro. The panel received the following nominations: From Asi Eko Oke – Prince Obioha Ogbonnaya Okoro; From Kanu Okoro Oke – Prince Godwin Idei; and Oji Okoro Oke – Prince Oke Kanu Oji & Prince Eberechukwu Oji. The two nominees from the Oji Okoro family were requested to reconcile and present one candidate leading to Prince Oke Oji stepping down for Prince Eberechukwu Oji to be the preferred candidate of the Oji Okoro family unit.
“After the submission of nominations, the President General of Okennachi Kindred had to constitute a panel of seven Okennachi kindred sons observing the three traditional units constituting the kindred to evaluate the candidates. With two candidates left, on the night of 17th October 2023, the panel advised the duo of Princes Goddy Idei and Eberechukwu Oji to meet privately and agree on one candidate with a proviso that they would only be evaluated if they failed to reach a consensus.
“On 18 October 2023 when the proceedings resumed, the candidates were asked by the panel the outcome of their consultation. They both confirmed they could not agree on one candidate. They then both agreed to submit themselves to be evaluated.
“They both voluntarily offered themselves to participate in the selection process by the committee. Both candidates took turns and promised to support each other, which may emerge as the winner. The entire people present were jubilant at the pervading sense of peace and unity.
“Everybody, the candidates inclusive, proceeded to Ukwu Ovo Aro ( Aro Ancestral holy place) where Mazi Prince Oji Kanu Oji, the oldest Prince and Head of the Royal family poured libation for peace and made a covenant for both. It was all smiles and camaraderie. The libation ceremony at Ukwu Ovor was captured in pictures and video.
“Thereafter, each candidate was given a chance to market himself and answer questions. During these presentations, 2 persons were allowed to be present for each candidate. The 2 persons were also allowed to make statements in support of their candidate. Mazi Philip Kanu Okoro and Mazi Okoro Idei spoke on behalf of Prince Goddy Idei. Mazi Oji Kanu Oji and Mazi Kanu Okoro Kanu Oji were for Prince Eberechukwu Oji.
“After the presentation of their profiles and taking questions from the two candidates, the seven-member selection panel did their evaluation and returned a verdict of 5 to 2 in favour of Eberechukwu Oji. In other words, Prince Eberechukwu Oji is the person the Okennachi kindred selected as the Eze Aro Designate.
“Before the commencement of the selection proceedings on the 18th of October, 2023, Okennachi Kindred received communication from Eze Ibom Isii, Mazi Kanu nwa Kanu and Eze Ezeagwu N’Okwaragwu dictating to Okennachi who should become Eze Aro and who should not – a responsibility totally outside their competence. Their main point was the bogus theory that Onye nna ya did ndu anaghi achi Eze (he whose father is still alive cannot be crowned king). The duo ordered Okennachi Kindred to select Prince Goddy Idei and went ahead to threaten that any candidate short of him would not be recognised by them.
“The action of the duo of Eze Ibom Isii and Eze Ezeagwu N’Okwaragwu was entirely meddlesome and a breach of the independence of the federating kindreds in Arochukwu. Besides, the action was also in violation of the 2 January 2015 vow entered and signed by Aro traditional rulers and Nzuko Arochukwu Patrons and validated by consent judgement of 26 October 2015 by Justice S.A. Nwakanma of Abia State High Court, Umuahia that “…That NO Kindred Eze should interfere with internal village administration and selection of Eze Ogo.”
The PG said the theory that a prince whose father is still alive cannot be crowned king of Aro, citing instances of past scenarios.
“The Panel considered this communication and resolved to proceed arguing that the great Aro ancestral Nnachi was alive when his son, Oke, became Eze Aro. Also, it was agreed that Mazi Prince Oji Kanu Oji, being the oldest and head of the family, had waived his right as Okwara Ezi and that confers traditional rights on the beneficiary.
“Prince Eberechukwu Oji in line with the Arochukwu tradition of crowning an Eze, having fulfilled being accepted by Nde Oke at Oror, presented and accepted at Utughugwu with the traditional rites performed, presented to and accepted by Bianko and Amaja ( that is having been accepted by the three units of Okennachi kindred) Prince Eberechukwu Oji immediately stands as Eze Aro Designate. This is Aro tradition.
“It was therefore in shock and utter disbelief that Okennachi Kindred learned that Prince Goddy Idei who failed at the selection process ran to Eze Ibom Isii on the 20th of October to put what he called Okpu Arunsi on his head and called him Eze Aro.
“This is unheard of in Aro Tradition. It is not only an abomination, this is pure gangsterism, a total illegality and a nullity. The Eze Aro stool is not for gangsters. Goddy Idei is an impostor since it was not him that Okennachi Kindred selected to be Eze Aro.
“Goddy Idei has political backers who are determined to set the Aro Kingdom on fire. They are not only providing funds, they are mounting vicious campaigns of lies and propaganda to deceive the world. Truth is under assault in Aro kingdom.”
The kingmakers absolved Gov. Alex Otti of any interference in the process that produced the Eze Aro designate.
Okennachi kindred said that the Governor intervened to avert mayhem adding that his intervention followed a petition by the kingmakers.
“To avoid a clash and blood bath in the Aro kingdom, we sent a petition to Nzuko Aro and the Abia State Government. The Governor invited and held three private meetings with the duo to resolve the matter and when it failed an Investigative Panel of Inquiry was set up to look into the issue and resolve the matter. Eze Ibom Isii was suspended for interfering in the traditional affairs of another kindred and invited to defend his actions at a panel set up by the Government but he refused to honour the invitations.”
“In the meantime, the candidates were ordered to stay action with their planned coronation activities pending the report of the Abia State panel on Eze Aro. As we speak, Prince Goddy Idei continued to parade himself illegally as Eze Aro leading to his being charged in court for contempt and impersonation.”
On the way forward, the kingmakers, said that Price Oji had already emerged as the Eze Aro designate, adding that they are only awaiting the release of Government White Paper on the recommendations of the Justice Akoma-led Panel of Inquiry that looked into the matter before his formal coronation.
“It’s Okennachi that produces Eze Aro, and we have produced Prince Orji as the Eze designate. The man purportedly crowned is not wearing the royal Eze Aro crown. He only knows what he is wearing”.
The kindred had earlier in a communique, vowed to “take actions as appropriate to insulate the Eze Aro throne from partisan interests and considerations which do not augur well for the stability and wholesome development of Arochukwu Kingdom.”
They averred that “Eze Ibom Isii’s action in crowning an impostor is a traditional interference in Okennachi Kindred affairs, a breach of the Aro kingdom forebears’ covenant, an abomination that must be remediated through necessary atonement and cleansing.”