THE RETURN OF GARRISON COMMAND POLITICS IN ANAMBRA
In 2003 as earlier stated in a part of this report, a self styled political godfather arose in Anambra state. With the active collaboration of his brother who was then a powerful force to reckon with in Aso Rock, they drew an organogram of rulership and partitioned Anambra as it suited their avaricious desires. They got a willing tool from Alor who wanted to be Senator then but was quickly drafted to be governor, a puppet and ceremonial one at that. To cement their agreement to avoid any form of reneging, they visited the dreaded Okija shrine at the dead of the night and administered an oath on the soon to be crowned puppet governor amidst recorded videos before finally drafting a resignation letter already signed without date which will be tendered with date any day the puppet governor tried to be mischievous.
Everything went on according to plan and they rigged election in a most brazen form and eventually installed the governor whom they thought will be their robot.
But the Igbos says that it is not giving the monkey water that matters but collecting the cup after. The supposed robot governor on assumption of office began to hold tight and before one could say Eselu, he began to consolidate and refused to play ball as agreed damning both the shrine and the physical consequences. The resultant effect was that on July 10, 2004, the god father with his lieutenants used a certain AIG now late, Raphael Ige to mastermind the abduction of the illegal governor and also tendered the governor's resignation letter to the whole world. When their supposed robot resurfaced later, he exposed so many secrets binding them together and began to whip sentiments which eventually drew public sympathy for him and his godfathers realized that they have lost out. In frustration for losing out and to create an atmosphere of chaos which will lead to the declaration of a State of Emergency in Anambra and give room for them to stage a comeback and be fully in charge, on November 10, 2004, they unleashed the worst mayhem in the state burning various government establishments while the police watched helplessly as the orgy lasted.
Ten years down the line, no single person has been apprehended nor questioned over the incident while the master-minders are still today major players in the political arena with some holding political party structures while some now wants to be Senators of the Federal Republic. Oh what a climate of impunity. That was the era of Garrison Politics in Anambra.
Unfortunately, recently, another form of Garrison politics played out in the state though with different colorations and intent. This time, the action was meted out on a woman, the only female council chairman in the state whom the present power owners doesn't like her face but worst of all, her greatest offence was that it is assumed that her loyalty lies with the former governor , Obi who is from the same town with her.
Lady Ann Chukwuneke, the Chairman, Onitsha South Local Government Area, was humiliated out of office in a most brazen and wicked manner that still reverberates across the land unless redressed.
Chukwuneke was sworn in like her colleagues after the Jan. 11 2014 election. Accusations of highhandedness leveled against her by some of the councilors and her visit to traders near the Onitsha Main market on October 16, 2014 which later turned bloody as she was attacked by the traders who alleged that she ordered them to be paying N50, 000 per shop as revenue to the council were two issues that those who wanted her out capitalized on to deal with her.
Acting out a script handed down to them allegedly by the state government, 7 out of the 17 Councilors amidst tight security led by SP Tope Fasugba of the operations Department, Police headquarters, Awka first sat in the legislative chambers and announced that they have removed the House Leader, Fred Ezenwa and the Council Chairman, Lady Chukwuneke who was not in town then and was never served any impeachment notice.
Lady Chukwuneke told reporters that she made frantic efforts to see Gov. Obiano but she was rebuffed including her being snubbed by the Governor on Nov 1 feast of All Saints at All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha where she went to see the governor after all efforts in the past.
When Lady Chukwuneke returned to her duty post and following solidarity by hundreds of widows who organized a protest march for her, Chukwuneke said that she was summoned again by Gov. Obiano and told to pack her bags and leave that she has been impeached.
After the meeting with the governor, the government then realized the need to use a semblance of legality in achieving its desired target and then set up a seven man judicial panel headed by Mr. Linus Nweke to investigate the allegations leveled against the woman (After the woman has been told by the governor that she has been impeached)
On 20 November, 2014, Lady Chukwuneke in suit N0 FHC/AWK/CS243/I4 between her and 25 other respondents had obtained a court injunction at the Federal High Court, Awka restraining the impeachment process and as well restraining any other person from parading him or herself as the new Chairman of the council.
But in a manner reminiscent of the garrison politics era, the councilors acting out the handed script on Friday 21st November 2014 went ahead to perfect their illegality and voted for the immediate swearing in of the Madam Chukwuneke's erstwhile deputy, Alex Egbuna Achebe as the substantive Chairman of the council.
After accomplishing their inordinate mission, the councilors according to report, all left in an official white Mitsubishi bus belonging to the legislative council with a team of stern looking policemen to an unknown destination- Mission accomplished.
This is highly condemned by the CLO and with actions like this, Anambra is on the path to retrogression and allowing this kind of illegality to stand is another invitation to rule by brute force and gangsterism. We urge Lady Chukwuneke to be resilient and pursue her case to a logical conclusion. We know it may seem practically impossible to succeed in this because even the legal system draws its strength from the executive today leading to cases of doing the bidding of the one who pays the piper but despite her own personal shortcomings as a council chair, Lady Chukwuneke is a winner in the court of public opinion. It is also regrettable that the woman, a 60 year old widow could be treated like this without even considering that her continued stay as a council chairman would have given the state a semblance of gender sensitivity among the local council chairmen. We also commend the now former Secretary of the Local Government, Hon. Sylvanus Mgbechukwu who did not hesitate to resign his position when the forces of illegality descended on their office unlike some others who may decide to change loyalty and seek the favor of those about to take over power.
***Excerpts from the 25 paged Human Rights Day Report 2014 of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) Anambra State Branch.
Written by Comrade Aloysius Attah.
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