ANXIETY OVER MONARCH'S DETHRONEMENT
The controversy generated by the purported dethronement of a traditional ruler in Ohafia Local Government area of Abia State is showing no signs of abating.
The state government had announced the deposition of Eze (Dr.) Agwu Nwankwo Kalu, the Aloke of Agbaja Nkporo Autonomous Community, after acceding to the recommendations of a committee that probed the spate of clashes in the community. The disciplinary committee recommended Kalu's dethronement, saying the monarch was the cause of the persistent communal crisis.
But to the Eze, his godson, Mr. Ndukwe Orji Agu, is behind his current travails in the hands of the state government. The traditional ruler regrets that a man that he lifted from grass is now plotting to take over his throne.
Ndukwe Agu, however, says he has been duly nominated by the entire community to ascend to the throne following Eze Kalu's sack. He said delegations were sent to him and he eventually accepted the offer after wide consultations.
But the troubled monarch would not hear of that. To him, the alleged crisis in the community is the creation of a highly placed government functionary who manufactured the situation to get even with the traditional ruler who wields much influence among his subjects.
He said his adversaries within and outside his community believes that as long as he remains on the throne, they may never have their evil ways. 'That was why they formed an alliance with my godson to unseat me,' he laments.
The Eze said he probably offended Agu when he asked the younger man who was President-General of the community, to render accounts of his stewardship to the community.
His words: 'It is shocking to read that the government acted through the report of a disciplinary committee on community unrest. It's even more shocking that the governor signed for my purported dethronement following that report. I want to say that there was no committee. If it ever existed, it was in the imagination of my enemies who have made up their minds to undo an innocent citizen.
'I don't believe that the governor was told the truth for him to sign a document that is pure lies, withdrawing the rights of an innocent person. This is the handiwork of those who see the love that my people shower on me as a threat to their aim of invading my community for their cheap political goals.
'If this is the governor I know, the same person they talk about that hates injustice, it means that they fed him with lies in this matter, because nobody has ever heard from me. No committee came to my community to seek the opinion of the people; nobody was asked questions about the community. They stayed in their offices and wrote the report, but God is very much alive in this matter.'
He said Ndukwe Orji Agu caused his woes. 'The community asked him to render the account of all the money he made as the President-General of the community for more than two years and I supported them. Instead of working with a treasurer and financial secretary, he manipulated figures and said that he had rendered account without the signatures of the people he was supposed to work with. No President-General renders account alone in any meeting.
'Because of this, he has written unfounded petitions to different offices. Before this time, we had no problem. He was my godson who lived in my house for about 10 years. It was through my effort that he became a counsellor that represented Ndiagbo ward between 2003 and 2007. As a counsellor, he lived in my house and I married for him. He even named his first son after me according to our customs. He even had two children before leaving my house.'
But in his reaction, Ndukwe Orji Agu said he rendered account accurately in December 2010 and the account was adopted. He said he did not have a treasurer because Eze Kalu did not allow the man elected treasurer, one Okoro Iwo, to do his job. 'That was why the community money was abandoned with me,' he said.
'He is still my master. My disagreement with him is a matter of principle. Unfortunately and painfully too, I was compelled to mount his throne when others refused and they asked me to go ahead. Delegations were sent to me and after a wide consultation, I was adopted as the person that will replace him as the next Eze,' Orji Agu said.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of State CID, Mr. Joseph Micloth said the major cause of problem within the community was the issue of rendering account from the sales of palm fruit and estates.
'We have been to the community and the major problem there is accountability. There may be political angles to it, but that is not our mandate. We have been able to bring the two groups together and asked them to live in peace as one people, so whatever they are doing outside that is not our business. It is possible that they are politicizing the entire thing, ours is to keep peace,' Micloth said.
Eze Agwu explained that the community leases out its palm estate every year. 'It is our source of revenue,' he said. 'In 2009, we realized one million, eight hundred thousand naira and above and he spent the money without the knowledge of the treasurer and financial secretary. In 2010, the community realized more money from the estate, but he also spent the money alone and the people thought he was making returns to me.
'I called his attention, warning that he should not be running the community affairs without the treasurer and financial Secretary. The constitution said money realized should be taken to the bank. But for two years, he did not bank any money and that year, he was yet to issue receipts to those he leased out palm estate to in 2011. He felt that I had exposed him by telling the people that I did not know anything about his activities and he started using the instruments of government against me because he was closer to them.
'He lied to some highly placed government officials that I was against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They wrote petitions that I brought a trailer load of thugs, each carrying a pump action gun, bombs and dynamites. The police came and searched my house without finding anything incriminating.
'He also foiled our annual meetings, alleging that I would use it to tell my subjects not to vote for PDP. I made wider consultations and called off the meeting in order to free myself from the allegations. I went on air to announce our strong support for the party in power and also sent text message to the Government House of our resolution to voting for PDP enmasse.'
When the reporter visited the Agbaja Nkporo Autonomous Community, those who spoke said they were tired of the current crisis in the community.
Chief Kalu Okoro Orji, 68, called on Governor Theodore Orji to help restore peace in their community. 'We don't want any other autonomous community here, neither do we want another Eze. We are happy with our Eze.'
Also, in a letter they wrote to the governor, officials of the Agbaja Nkporo Development Union objected to the creation of an autonomous community from Agbaja Nkporo. The letter partly reads: 'The exercise would amount to balkanizing one people held together by market, tradition, customs, streams, a central development union and common ancestral shrines.
'We are objecting to the creation of any new autonomous community as it is propelled by selfish reasons of its proponents to settle scores with the leadership of our community that has called him to render account of his stewardship for over two years.'
They called on the governor to verify the actual wishes of the vast majority of the people, advising him to appoint an Administrative Board of Inquiry to look into and advise him. they said they would be willing to subject themselves to a plebiscite to enable the governor know whether the new autonomous community is desired by the people.