BATTLE OF DENOMINATIONS
The fate of two royal fathers, in Enugu State, Igwe Hyacinth Odo of Ezeodo and Igwe Nathaniel of Agbona Omudaga communities in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area, Enugu State, is hanging on the balance following a recent call on the state governor by their subjects to dethrone them.
Consequently, the state government has directed its agency on Conflict Resolution and Inter-Party Affairs, to hold a public hearing on the matter with a view to determining the authenticity of the allegations leveled against the traditional rulers by their subjects.
The subjects had alleged that the two royal fathers had severally and jointly ruled them with iron-fist, being insensitive to their plight and aspirations just as they had allegedly engaged in official corruption, embezzlement of community fund, criminal activities in the community, as well as using masquerades and the police to intimidate and harass them. But the royal fathers say the Catholic Church is after their head because they are Anglicans.
Other allegations leveled against them were gross human rights violation, official misconduct, selective justice, and inability to discharge their duties as traditional rulers in accordance with their oath of office.
However, when contacted, the royal fathers blamed the Catholic Church for their travails, saying the allegations raised against them were because they refused to cross over to the Catholic faith.
The protesting subjects who thronged the arena of a peace talk arranged by the government carried placards some of which read: 'Governor Chime save us from the tyranny of Igwe Odo and Nathaniel. We don't want Igwe Odo and Nathaniel. We have no confidence in Igwe Odo and Nathaniel.'
After oral presentations of their cases by their selected leaders the people handed over to the government team petitions which were also made available to Daily Sun.
One of the petitions encapsulating the general grievances of the people dated May 24, was signed by community leaders representing the various segments of the community among them are Rev. Fr. M. Idogwu, former parish priest; his successor, Rev. Fr. James Eze; Mr Gabriel Eze, representative of community elders; Mrs Abugu Stella, for the women; Mr Onah Romanus, for the young men; Louis Jonhnbosco, for the male youths and Chinenye Odo for the female youth.
The petitions further alleged that the two traditional rulers could not give account of about N 9 millon provided for the community's LEEMP water project and that a sumo-pump given to the community under the PTF water project also disappeared where it was kept adjacent Igwe Odo's house under suspicious circumstances to the detriment of the people now have to walk to neighbouring communities to fetch water.
They also alleged that for about six years the town had come under siege by armed bandits who not only cart away their money and valuable property, but also rape their wives and daughters.
The petitioners also alleged that while the community was passing through this ordeal, the two traditional rulers appeared helpless. They said that the people only knew peace when the youths of the town under the aegis of Uda Youths Alliance took up the gauntlet against the hoodlums and subdued them.
The petitioners claimed that the youths enjoyed the support of the traditional rulers until the son of one of the traditional rulers was allegedly caught for armed robbery by the youths.
The refusal of the youths to conceal the crime ignited the anger of the royal father who allegedly started to work against the youths.
In an interview, the immediate past Catholic priest in the area, Rev. Fr. M. Idogwu told Daily Sun that he was a victim of the traditional rulers' tyrannical rule and cited an instance when he and a senior seminarian were mercilessly walloped by masquerades allegedly sent by the traditional rulers.
The clergy said the traditional rulers were un-amenable to peace, regretting that attempts made by the Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Rev Dr Francis Okobo and the chairman, Igbo-eze North LGA Hon. Chijioke Ugwu to bring peace to Uda, were frustrated by the royal fathers.
'I observe that Igwe Hyacinth Odo is stubborn, arrogant, autocratic, insensitive, adamant and not ready to take advice. Without fear or favour, I am bound in my conscience to say that if the two Igwes are allowed to continue in office, Uda will be in perpetual darkness,' Fr. Idogwu argued.
In their defence, the traditional rulers in separate interviews with Daily Sun debunked all the allegations leveled against them and blamed the Catholic Church for their plight.
They claimed that the Catholic authorities in Nsukka are not happy that two of them are Anglicans. 'In fact, they have told us that if we want to retain our positions, we should abandon our present denomination and join the Catholic Church', the royal fathers told Daily Sun.