An Anambra state-based social activist, Comrade Chuks Okeke, has condemned last weekend’s invasion of the palace of the traditional ruler of Awka capital city, His Imperial Majesty, Obi Austin Ndigwe, Eze-Uzu III of Awka, by a ‘battalion’ of security operatives on the orders of the state governor, Prof. Charles Soludo.
Comrade Okeke spoke with newsmen in Awka while reacting to the governor’s directive to the police to stop the New Yam Festival of the Awka monarch, the Eze-Uzu III, and the bloody attack on the convoy of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (Anambra South) at Nkwo market, Enugwu-Ukwu, on Sunday, by dare-devil gunmen, who reportedly killed no fewer than ten persons including six policemen.
According to him, the invasion of the monarch’s palace where invited dignitaries and royal fathers from different states were billed to celebrate the 2022 New Yam festival was an unjustifiable attack on the traditional stool and culture of Awka people, stressing that the reason given by the state government for the “condemnable action” was totally unacceptable.
He said: “What happened in Awka last Saturday was very disturbing as it is generally viewed as an attack and desecration of Igbo culture and tradition, and I want to condemn it in its entirety and to call on Governor Soludo to stay away from communal politics and concentrate on the major challenges including high-level insecurity that have almost crippled the state and his administration.
Chief Austin Ndigwe, the ‘Eze-Uzu III of Awka’
“We are aware that “I am very much aware that all processes were duly observed by the Council of Kingmakers in the selection and crowning of His Imperial Majesty as Obi of Awka and Eze-Uzu III and the process was very transparent.
“It is on record that some aggrieved parties opposed Obi Ndigwe’s enthronement had gone to court seeking to stop him from parading himself as traditional ruler of Awka which the Awka High Court refused to grant as requested. The case is still pending in court.
“We are therefore surprised that the state governor who is a professor, without any court order, decided to use the police to invade somebody’s palace by 5.30 am to prevent the New Yam festival from holding and went ahead to arrest some persons seen within the premises and detained them for five days before the court granted them bail on Wednesday.
“It is surprising to observe that this kind of impunity was carried out Igbo land because, according to Igbo customs, any titled man in entitled to celebrate New Yam festival in his house without seeking any permission either from government or from anybody else, and in this case the traditional ruler of Awka ought not to seek the permission or approval of the state government or anybody for that matter before celebrating his New Yam festival.”
The social activist also condemned the armed attack on the convoy of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah last Saturday killing his personal and security aides, saying had the large number of policemen deployed for such “inconsequential duty” of stopping celebration of traditional new yam festival in Awka been deployed to nipping points in local government areas within Anambra Central senatorial zone, the bloody incident may have been nipped in the bud.
Comrade Okeke, therefore, called on Governor Soludo to stay away from Awka politics and traditional matters, saying administrations before him knew the truth and facts of Awka traditional stool hence they never interfered and wondered why Governor Soludo, should decide to interfere in the affairs of Awka chiefdom.
The Ndigwe’s palace sealed off by security operatives denying his guests access to the festival venue on Saturday
The Advocate reports that the Anambra State Government had last Saturday sealed off the palace of Ndigwe describing him as an impostor but the action caused pandemonium in the area as some persons including his guests sustained injuries when security operatives chased them away.
A statement issued after the incident by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Paul Nwosu said: “It has come to the attention of Anambra State government that one Austin Chukwuezube Ndigwe, alias Uzu Awka, is still parading himself as the authentic traditional ruler of Awka.
“Not only that; he is also taking steps to perform one of the major harvest season’s traditional rites known as New Yam festival of the Awka people, thereby threatening the peace and tranquility of the town. The state government will not tolerate this.”