I consider it quite pertinent and apt to bare my mind this time on the show of shame between two brothers from the same geopolitical zones. On one side is a politician with the seal of government fiat and the other is a traditional ruler with the backing of his people of Obinugwu and the authority of law. The former currently occupies a tenured political office while the letter sits on a somewhat permanent traditional stool. Both of them hail from Orlu zone and were friends before they were separated by the politics of 2011 Imo Governorship election.
His Excellency Owelle Rochas Anayochukwu Okorocha and HRH Eze Cletus Ikechukwu Illomuanya are currently locked up in an unnecessary battle with the Governor waving and punching with the swagger sticks of his executive authority while Eze Illomuanya is defending his face with the help of the judiciary and the law.
Shortly after swearing him in six years ago as Governor, precisely on June 6th 2011, in his maiden broadcast, Governor Okorocha announced with a military tune the sacking of Eze Cletus Illomunaya as the Chairman of both Imo and South East Council of traditional rulers. Don’t also forget that it was in that same radio broadcast that the ten thousand job beneficiaries were summarily dismissed from job by the Governor.
Expectedly dissatisfied with this action, the Obi of Obinugwu, HRM Eze C.I Illomuanya cried foul and quickly headed to the court for redress. The matter lingered from high Court to Supreme Court and at each time, Eze Illomuanya had always won the legal battle. This means that the actions of the Governor with respect to the sack of Eze Illomuanya was upturned , disagreed and declared null and void and equally of no effect whatsoever by the judiciary standing on the pedestal of the ground norm- the constitution.
Again, exactly three years later precisely on the 6th of June 2014, the Governor announced the withdrawal of the certificate of recognition from Eze Illomuanya. The Governor subsequently appointed one man as the Obi of Obinugwu allegedly deposing Eze Illomuanya. Equally, the dogged Traditional ruler did not waste time in instituting a fresh matter at the state High Court Owerri challenging that action of the Governor. And just last week Wednesday, Hon Justice T.EC Chilaka of Imo state High Court in an unanimous judgment ruled against that action of the Governor and once again declared it illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and one that offends the constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended and also Law No 6 of 2006 which is the law of autonomous communities and Chieftaincy affairs.
First, one of the first points that must be noted here is that Eze Illomunaya has won this matter with the Governor nine times in different courts and at different times under different judges including Imo state high Courts and the Governor has not won any. Secondly, in all these judicial pronouncements, the Governor has blatantly refused to implement all the judicial orders and disrespected the letter written by the honorary Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice to the effect that Eze Illomuanya should be reinstated back with all his full entitlements paid. At each occasion, the Governor would interpret his own judgment and continue with his position.
Now, it pricks the conscience of any believer in rule of law and discerning mind how a public officer who swore to protect the law should be disrespecting the same law and standing it on its head just to satisfy a political intention and apparently settle scores even when it is obvious that such settlement of scores with executive powers can only last at the end of mid night of May 29th, 2019. So why not make peace instead of postponing the war. Why not jaw, jaw instead of war, war.
Strictly speaking, a traditional ruler is primarily a product of his people who nominated, supported and elected him and not an officer under the state control. The law again did not envisage a situation where a political appointee like a Governor would just wake up and announce the removal or sack of a traditional ruler. It does not work. Whatever be the issue, let the Governor understands that Eze Illomuanya is an indisputable traditional ruler of O binugwu, at least by the dictates of the judicial pronouncements and he cannot use executive fiat to override the constitution unless we are in a Banana republic. Also, he should know that he who fights and run away will always live to fight another day. Let him know that Eze Illomuanya is his brother and let him also know that he is setting up a bad precedence in the state with this Illomunaya matter. The law is a regulator of everybody in a society and we all must respect it whether it suits us or not else we degenerate to a level where life will be brutish and those in authority will be seen to be above the law. God forbid!
The alleged threat by the Governor to banish Eze Illomunaya is to say the least reprehensible and bestial as it is condemnable and barbaric. There is this Igbo maxim that ‘he who kills the person that he will bury has not achieved any good thing’ The Governor may do it to certain Traditional rulers and have his way but obviously not with a man with the standing, clout and personage like Eze Illomunaya. You cannot lose a matter a record 9 times in Court and you are still fighting even as a Governor. Please let peace reign between these two Orlu sons and let the Governor drop his ego because power is ephemeral. Nothing lasts forever.
It is at this point that I shall momentarily pen down my pen. Until next week when we meet again, please be reminded once again that we are Apostles on the altar of Truth. Truth remains our oxygen and we draw our strength from it. And therefore, it is only the same Truth that will continue to set us free. Truthfully Yours, Nwamkpa Modestus