Trouble is again brewing for the embattled Chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Obi of Obi – Orodo community, HRH Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri, as some traditional rulers in the STATE have distanced themselves from his “reckless outbust” and are even wondering why he would throw caution to the winds in a matter as serious as the one under consideration, demanding for his immediate sack as Chairman.
They are also asking Governor Hope Uzodinma not to view the personal opinion of Eze Ohiri as the stand of Imo traditional rulers on the issues,describing his outbursts as “unbecoming, reckless and inciting utterances” calculated to bring Governor Uzodinma’s administration and the Imo State House of Assembly to public ridicule.
Eze Ohiri was reported in both the print and social media of harshly criticizing the House of Assembly and the State government for amending Law No. 15 of 2016, the Imo State of Nigeria Traditional Rulers, Autonomous Communities and Allied Matters Law, through which he came into office for his second tenure as Chairman. The amendment abolished the leadership of the Council of Traditional Rulers from emerging through an electoral process. The new law rather reverted the power to appoint the leadership of the Council on the Governor. This development however, is being opposed vehemently by Ohiri.
Reacting to Ohiri’s opposition and criticism of the government and Imo lawmakers’ action during an interactive session with newsmen in Owerri, Imo State Concerned Traditional Rulers Forum,speaking through HRH,Eze (Barr) Anayochukwu Durueburuo, (the Obi of Okwudor, Njaba LGA) condemned Ohiri’s opposition, noting that “Eze Ohiri who has now come tops in criticizing the actions of the Government is the same man who assisted Owelle Rochas Okorocha in his hay days as Governor of Imo State,in sanctioning, suspending or dethroning any traditional ruler who criticized any action or inaction of his government.Ndi Eze were gagged under the government that Eze Ohiri served,and no one but a few of us dared say their minds for fear of being labeled, suspended or dethroned. God is kind that these vituperations by him were not made at that unholy time,as the same would have been termed abuse of his position as Chairman.”
They queried the locus Eze Ohiri has to dictate for Governor Uzodinma and the state legislature when his position on the issues he canvassed is at variance with the stand of his colleagues, and especially when he (Ohiri) was part of the devastating bastardization of,and whittling down of the prestige of Imo traditional institution.
According to Eze Durueburuo, the action of the House is in conformity with the agitation of the majority of Ndi Eze in Imo State for a reversion to the Imo State Traditional Rulers and Autonomous Communities Law,2006(Law No. 6 of 2006)(as amended), which former Governor Rochas Okorocha,through Ohiri’s advice,amended to insert the obnoxious and caricature electoral clause which ousted the governor’s prerogative in appointing whosoever he considers competent to appoint into the leadership of the Council.
“This amendment” he said, “ridiculed the traditional institution in Imo State, and made a mockery of the traditional rulers in the State,as it exposed the intendment of those behind it, who merely orchestrated the emergence of those purportedly elected. It would have been the best of things if the law was actually,and I repeat,actually made to allow Ndi Eze elect our leadership ourselves.But that wasn’t the intention. It was like the old man who claims that he does not eat rats but is sharing rat meat amongst children with his teeth.”That is not the type of democratic election of Council officials which traditional rulers are angling for.”
” Why should monarchs even indulge in clear political activities in the partisan sense? We are not partisan politicians, and any attempt to enmesh us in it should be resisted and condemned in every material particular.Even the Sultan of Sokoto, Ooni of Ife, Oba of Benin, Emir of Kano, Gbong Gwom Jos and indeed, all other leaders of Traditional Rulers’ Councils in Nigeria were appointed by their respective governors. The idea of pushing us into a make- believe democratic election of Chairman and Deputy only,was Okorocha’s contraption to hoodwink our members.We all witnessed what happened in the so-called election,but like least to talk about it,as further attempt at robustly discussing it and re-enacting such infamous exercise, will have the tendency to erase the remnant of the aura associated with this most sacrosanct institution.”
“By the way,” he continued,” the practice of the State Governor appointing the chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers is as old as Imo State. Upon the creation of Imo State in 1976,Eze,Dr. Akanu Ibiam became the first Chairman.He was appointed by the governor. When Abia State was created in 1991,Eze,Dr. Onu Egwunwoke became appointed Chairman to take over from Akanu Ibiam who relocated to Abia State. Upon the death of Onu Egwunwoke,Eze G. I Osu of Umulolo Okigwe became appointed Chairman by the then Governor Achike Udenwa who also appointed Eze, Dr. C.I Ilomuanya at the end of Eze Osu’s tenure. Dr. Ikedi Ohakim was not denied the powers to appoint at his own time as Governor.By the same yardstick,Eze Ohiri was appointed by Governor Okorocha in 2011,albeit in the most awkward form and in utter disobedience of Orders of Court for him to reinstate Ilomuanya.So what is anybody talking about? Rather than our killing ourselves in attempting to elect our officers, which election turns,and will always turn out to be a farce, by the reason that government will sponsor some anointed persons, as was experienced in the only exercise so far, we prefer that the Governor keeps appointing until a time when our elections will really be democratic. I believe there should be such a time. We desire the same, but not in the manner we saw it.”
The traditional rulers wandered why Ohiri wants to whittle down the powers of the Governor of Imo State because of his selfish reasons? “His sarcastic comments against the government and the House of Assembly are most unfortunate and must, with the greatest respect,be condemned, ” Eze Durueburuo said.
He further stated that Eze Ohiri ab initio illegally occupied the Chairmanship seat of the Council against several court judgements/Orders,including that of the Court of Appeal. He recalled that the tenure of the lawful Chairman, HRM, Eze (Dr) Cletus Ilomuanya, CON, was unlawfully terminated by Okorocha, purely on grounds of vendetta,which dissolution was reversed by the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri which ordered Ilomuanya’s reinstatement. The monarchs therefore, implored Governor Uzodinma who, they noted, vigorously condemned the former governor’s unlawful action then, to reinstate Eze Ilomuanya,to complete his tenure,in the interest of rule of law and fairness, now he (Uzodinma) is the Governor.
Imo monarchs, Eze Durueburuo posited, strongly commend the Governor and the Imo State House of Assembly for such laudable amendment,including the repeal of the Imo State Community Government Administration Law,because they reflect their wishes, adding that Eze Ohiri is on his own in the opposition, and does not enjoy the support and confidence of the monarchs.
Asked about Eze Ohiri’s reference to his still having three unexpired years of service as Chairman, Eze Durueburuo smiled wryly and said…… “Hahahaha, I really wonder if my dear friend,Eze Ohiri can be heard to justifiably make that argument, by reason of the fact that before he was appointed in the year,2011,by then Governor Rochas Okorocha,Eze Ilomuanya’s Council which was elected pursuant to the provisions of the Traditional Rulers and Autonomous Communities Law No. 6 of 2006,was unlawfully dissolved, having only served for about two years or so. Eze Ohiri benefited from that illegality of the unfortunate and unreasonable dissolution, and should not complain when visited with the dissolution of his Council. So he is estopped from arguing that the system through which he rode to power has now become wrong,simply because he fears being visited in his own coins. What goes up,also comes down,you know.”
Eze,Barr. Durueburuo also stated that the next headache which the traditional rulers in the state must treat as a disease, is the attachment of the title of “Eze Imo” to the Chairman of the State Council. “This,” he said, “whittles down the other traditional rulers in the State,as if they are under one community called Imo, with one Eze Imo atop them, which is not the case. Another problem of the appellation is what the current occupant of that position will answer on leaving the office of the Chairman.Will he still continue to answer “Eze Imo”, or diminish whenever he stops answering the name, as there can never be two “Ndi Eze Imo” at the same time? Or can we have Eze Imo 1,Eze Imo 2,and so on? There are appellations which are like the iron and clay at the feet of the image of Nebuchadnezzar,which may cleave, but not incorporate. Such is “Eze Imo.” You can imagine one day when the Chairmen of all State Councils assume such titles. One will then have Igwe Anambra,Eze or Igwe Enugu, Eze Abia and, eeeeeeee hahahahaha. Ridiculous indeed.”
Also speaking to newsmen, other members of the Imo State Concerned Traditional Rulers’ Forum,such as HRH Eze D.O Izim(Oparankwo of Umunkwo,Isiala Mbano LGA), HRH Eze Engr.Ben Ik Nwaneri (Eze Ubi 1 of Owubinubi, Ikeduru) and HRH Eze V.O Ahamefule (Duruoha of Oboro Amurie,Isu LGA),among others,fully aligned themselves with the stand taken by Eze Durueburuo on all the issues raised.