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We Have Been Using Constitution Since 1994 — Ekwulobia Debunks Monarch's Claim

By Izunna Okafor

The President General of Ekwulobia Community in Aguata Local Government Area, Engr. Emeka Maduabuchi has cleared the air on what could be best described as 'constitutional crisis', rocking the 4th largest city in the state.

This was in reaction to the recent claims made by the Traditional Ruler of the community, Igwe Emmanuel Onyeneke, who said the community had no constitution backing its operation, administration and structure, until in 2010 when one was finally drafted.

The Traditional Ruler had earlier addressed newsmen in his palace, where he disclosed this, saying "The only constitution Ekwulobia has ever had as a town is the Constitution of Ekwulobia Town, 2010, which was drafted by a 59-member constituent assembly representing all the federating villages, diaspora branches, women, youths and other stakeholders.”

Debunking this as false and insulting to the sensibilities of the good people of Ekwulobia, Engr. Maduabuchi who addressed newsmen to a press conference said it was laughable of the monarch to say that all the elites and well-educated people of Ekwulobia have allowed themselves to be governed without constitution since the creation of the town, until 2010 as the monarch claimed, challenging him to tell the world which constitution was used to elect and swear him in as the Traditional Ruler of the community in 2008.

Going memory lane, he said: "Ekwulobia Town is being governed by The 1994 Reviewed Constitution of Ekwulobia Peoples Assembly (EPA), containing both the political and traditional provisions for her governance. This constitution was used for Igwe Onyeneke's election in 2008; his presentation to the Aguata Local Govt Council, Anambra State Government and his coronation were all in line with the provisions of this constitution.

"In 2009, he continued, "a case was made to Ekwulobia General Assembly on the need to undertake a comprehensive review of the constitution. A 59-man Constituent Assembly was consequently inaugurated by the President General of Ekwulobia Peoples Assembly Dr. Mike Ukwuoma Eze, to undertake the review.

"On completion of the review, the signing into law of the constitution named The 2010 Constitution of Ekwulobia Town was fraught with irregularities, as Igwe Onyeneke hijacked the process and refused that the constitution be presented to Ekwulobia General Assembly for adoption.

"This act forced the President General of EPA and some concerned individuals to seek redress in court and challenged him on his plans to sign the constitution into law, without complying with the provision of the 1994 constitution that the 2010 constitution sought to replace. During the pendency of the suit and after the constitution was signed into law, it was discovered that Igwe Onyeneke had even comprehensively doctored the contents of the 2010 constitution submitted to him by the Constituent Assembly, to give himself absolute powers. These mutilations were unknown to the signatories to the constitution including the Chairman of the 59-man Constituent Assembly, a Professor of repute"

He added:
"Not even a plea from the Professor to Igwe Onyeneke to back pedal given that the work submitted to him has been doctored massively, could make him (Igwe Onyeneke) to retrace his steps. Vide a consent agreement between the plaintiffs and defendants in a suit praying to set aside the 2010 constitution, Aguata High Court Ekwulobia, on 3rd June 2013 set aside the 2010 constitution in a consent judgment. Igwe Onyeneke appealed the judgment to the Court of Appeal Enugu and on 11th June 2015, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of the Aguata High Court Ekwulobia"

Away from the constitutional crisis, Engr. Mmaduabuchi further disclosed that the Traditional Ruler has dabbled into other things that have created situations of unrest and kerfuffle in Ekwulobia community, maintaining that the people of the community have been under siege, as the monarch seeks control of all administrative structures at all costs, by whatever means, not minding the injury to democratic observances and norms.

He disclosed that shops numbering over 1700 built at the New Eke Ekwulobia Market by the state government for Ekwulobia people have been sold out by agents masquerading as Anambra State govt, at the instance of Igwe Onyeneke, without consideration for Ekwulobia people; being a land built on piece of lands donated by poor villagers. According to him, their efforts as a community to streamline issues on the market with the state government have been frustrated by Igwe Onyeneke who he said, is more content in securing a piece of land at the market and building his own Plaza of shops.

He said "Ekwulobia market women no longer have a place to sell their local produce, they have to pay money to the agents of Igwe Onyeneke before they can sell their produce. Recently the information reaching us from Igwe Onyeneke's palace is that the new Eke Ekwulobia Market now belongs to Anambra state government, even as monies for buying the shops are being paid into an individuals private account"

Calling on the state govt to institute an investigation into the deals happening in the market, the helmsman further called on the market leaders to immediately stop selling off the shops, while also warning people to desist from buying shops any further in the market, to avoid regrets or loosing their money.

On Ekwulobia Motor Park Shops, he said the community's efforts to take delivery of 159 shops, the ownership of which was awarded them by court in 2002, have been frustrated by Igwe Onyeneke, who, according to him, is now in concert with the tenants in the shops.

Engr. Maduabuchi further alleged that in unconcordant with the 2007 Law of Anambra which guides the formation of community security Anambra State; Igwe Onyeneke has continued to run the security apparatus in Ekwulobia like his private army, saying "He hires and fires vigilante people as he deems fit and sends his security men after his perceived opposition"

He said the monarch constituted a parallel town union executives by himself other than those popularly elected by the people, and has, since his coronation in 2008 conferred over 150 chieftaincy titles to some underserving people in Ekwulobia, thereby proliferating and commercializing conferment of chieftaincy title in the community for his personal benefit and for building his army of chiefs.

Thanking Gov. Obiano for the N20m Community Choose Your Project Initiative which he said the community benefited from, Engr. Maduabuchi however lamented that the first phase of the money was used by the Traditional Ruler and his stooges to erect a small building inside the Aguata Sports Stadium, thus making it a belonging of the entire Aguata, rather than exclusively for Ekwulobia community for which the money was meant, as every other community received their own money, and used it on something that will benefit the people of the community.

According to him, the second phase of the money was also used to erect another small building at the site of Ekwulobia Civic Center, but partly with materials previously stock-piled at the site by the town union, estimated at N8m.

Lamenting that the all the peace initiatives that have been undertaken in the past and so far to restore peace to the community unfortunately ended at the doorstep of the Traditional Ruler; Engr. Maduabuchi who said the people of the community would never succumb to absolute monarchy, urged the state government to urgently intervene in the issues marring the community, by ensuring that the monarch refunds the Ekwulobia Peoples Assembly the N8m material cost he took from their stock pile, jettisons and do away with the doctored 2010 constitution, and operates within the purview of his jurisdiction as Traditional Ruler, so that lasting peace will once again return to the community.

In their separate contributions, some former Presidents General of the community —Prof. Mike Ukwuoma Eze, and Dr. Paulinus Mbamalu — as well as the the Legal Adviser of Ekwulobia Peoples Assembly (EPA), Barr. Okwuchukwu Okeke, and a concerned citizen of the community, Comrade Samuel Igbokwe regretted that the the peaceful community of Ekwulobia has been rocked by such crisis and situation of unrest, which they confessed, have slowed down the development wheel of the community, and hence called on the state government to urgently intervene in the situation and do justice to the matters raised.