By Vincent Ujumadu
THE people of Ochuche Umuodu in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State have threatened to drag Governor Willie Obiano to court, over “imposition of an unpopular person as the traditional ruler of the community.”
Although the tussle for the Igwe’s stool had been on for some time, the state government, on July 4, recognised Chief Vincent Ijoma as the traditional ruler of the community.
According to the people, the government’s action was against their popular choice of Dr Stephen Akpati, a medical practitioner.
Yesterday, hundreds of men and women from the community stormed the Government House in Awka with placards, chanting war songs, and accused the governor of trying to destroy their cultural heritage.
Some of their placards read: “Ochuche Umuodu needs peace;” “Government cannot impose an Igwe on us;” “Democracy is right to choose;” “Ochuche Umuodu says no to government impunity;” ‘Obiano give us our rightful king;” “Settlers cannot be king;” among others.
In a petition by 24 chiefs from the community, including their preferred Igwe, which was submitted to the state government, the people said: “Ochuche Umuodu community is greatly saddened by the unilateral and precipitous decision and action of Anambra State government to recognise Mr Vincent Ijomah as the Igwe of Ochuche Umuodu, on July 4, despite our collective protestations and representations to the government and through Igwe Roland Odegbo panel set up to look into the matter.
“As law-abiding citizens, we shall seek redress, following due process and in the court of law. In a democracy, the will of the people should prevail and cannot be subjugated to the will of the minority and even to the will of elected officials, who use executive fiat to orchestrate wrong and illegal decisions.
“By this petition, Your Excellency, we wish to aver that you have been grossly ill-advised on this matter by a cabal.”
Special Assistant to Governor Obiano on Local Government Affairs, Mr Gerald Akaeze, who addressed the people on behalf of the state government, promised that the governor would look into their protest.
He urged them to continue to maintain peace in their community while waiting for the state government’s reaction to the matter.