From SUNNY A. DAVID
The Traditional Rulers Council of Anambra State has officially responded to the Anambra State government, on the recent suspension of Igwe Damian O. Ezeani of Neni.
In a press release made available to our correspondent through the State Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers in the State, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, the Council in a 14 point letter bemoaned the dimension that was taken by the State government in the suspension of Igwe Damian O Ezeani.
He said he was suspect that the suspension letter was an after thought as it was already trending on social media for over 24 hours prior to their receipt of the letter. “I was embarrassingly inundated with phone calls and messages from traditional rulers and other persons seeking clarification from me as Chairman of ASTRC regarding a situation to which I was not privy. Your letter to Igwe Damian O Ezeani was copied to the Commissioner of Police, and Director DSS, Anambra State, bit not to the Chairman of the ASTRC.”
The revered traditional ruler however stated that the action of the State government has indeed shown, amongst many others acts, how traditional rulers of Anambra State are being treated and the measure of the worth the traditional institution has with the present State government.
Continuing, Igwe Achebe said that it’s unfortunate that the State government can apply this code of conduct without the involvement or reference to ASTRC, a body that worked so hard to ensure that the law stands following the 2013 annual seminar of Anambra State traditional rulers where it was presented and adopted.
The Obi of Onitsha also retraced how he had on 04 October 2023 communicated the Governor on the subsisting code of conduct which served previous administration and the need for it’s review to have adequate efficacy. He however stressed that since then he has not received any feedback from the Commissioner or Mr Governor, and as such he assumed that the same order with the previous administrations would continue to prevail.
He said it was out of place, for the Commissioner to have discussed with him on 7th of January 2024 on the code of conduct for traditional rulers who conferred honorary chieftancy titles in violation of the code, as he said that the Commissioner specifically mentioned Igwe Ojoto, who conferred an honorary chieftancy title on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah on 30th December, 2023 and the self acclaimed traditional ruler of Nawfia, who also conferred honorary chieftancy titles on 40 persons on the January 4th 2024.
The Chairman ASTRC said that “in the conversation, you categorically, did not mention, in any regard whatsoever, Igwe Menu who celebrated his ofala on the 29th of December 2023.”
Igwe Achebe further stressed that, “Nevertheless, it’s is very manifestly presented that no written directives from your Ministry on conferment of Chieftaincy titles existed before 08 January 2024 when Igwe Neni was suspended,” stressing that the referenced letter to a second term Right Honorable Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as “one Senator Ifeanyi Ubah” is most disrespectful, offensive, and unbecoming of one holding a political office as a Commissioner the traditional ruler thundered in his release.
The Obi of Onitsha also stressed that it unfortunate that the Commissioner used such words on the Senator as its noteworthy that a person can only qualify to contest elections after scaling through the highest level of security checks at the Federal level. He however stressed that Senator Ubah can’t be wished away as he hold a Chieftaincy title of his hometown, Nnewi, conferred on him by his Monarch and Grand Patron of the Anambra State traditional Institution, Igwe K.O.N Orizu. Besides, he is also a well known business investor in Anambra and a generous Philanthropist to say the least.
Igwe Achebe therefore maintained that the issue of code of conduct on Igwe Neni and the conferment of Chieftaincy title to Senator Ubah suggests that there may be other issues with either the Igwe or Senator Ubah, as is being stealthy ventilated in this present circumstance.
He however conculded that the way the State government has handled the matter of the honorary chieftancy titles is the apogee of the progressive dehumanization and dismantling of the traditional institution of Anambra by the present administration, and however informed the State government that the institution comprises the finest sons of Anambra State, who achieved sterling academic heights and professional/vocational attainments before been called to serve the people.
The Chairman ASTRC however reminded the State government that at the behest of their Communities they took up the role of traditional rulers and as shining examples for selflessly giving back to their Communities in particular and the society at large, and as custodians of culture and tradition of their people, their livelihood does not depend on selling chieftancy titles of the N175,000 monthly stipend from the State government, but on their own hard earned modest personal resources.
He further stated that, “By their office, age, attainment and standing in society, they deserve far better respect and dignity, than being publicly bullied and unfairly shamed at every opportunity by people in the State government.
“He further reminded them also, that the Federal government and other State government’s hold the traditional institutions in high esteem, and wondered what has gone wrong in Anambra State.”