By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
Two traditional rulers of Imo State, Eze Samuel Ohiri and Eze Cletus Ilomunanya are now at each others neck over the chairmanship position of the Imo State Traditional Rulers Council.
Southeast Voice in Owerri has been observing what many have painted to be “the royal battle” where Ilomuanya and other monarchs have asked the governor, Emeka Ihedioha, to reinstate him (Ilomuanya) as the chairman of traditional rulers in the state.
However, Ohiri who is currently the chairman of Imo State traditional rulers has said that the demand by Ilomuanya for his removal was unrealistic.
The battle started shortly after Ihedioha was sworn into office as the sixth civilian governor of the state.
Many have attributed the growing tension in the traditional rulers institution in the state to the silence by the governor over the matter.
Some people reasoned that the governor has not publicly called the warring factions together regarding the royal drama.
This is as some of the traditional rulers in the state who spoke to Southeast Voice anonymously have pleaded with the governor to come out boldly and make a statement either supporting Ohiri as the chairman or remove him and replace him with Ilomuanya. Many believe that the governor’s silence could be fueling the issue.
The drama playing out has showcased the duo of Ohiri and Ilomuanya speaking differently for the traditional rulers in Imo as well as on other issues that have to do with Imo politics.
They have also splitted the over six hundred monarchs in the state.
The monarchs supporting the restoration of Ilomuanya in a statement said, “We the traditional rulers in Imo State are saying that His Excellency, Emeka Ihedioha should be supported in his Rebuild Imo Project to restore Imo in the path of sanity.
“His excellency is hereby commended for not only restoring all the traditional rulers who were unlawfully suspended but paying them their dues and allowances.
“We hereby urged His Excellency, Emeka Ihedioha, to dissolve the Imo State council of traditional rulers without any further delay.
“We also urge that the illegally dissolved counsel of traditional rulers headed by Eze Cletus Ilomuanya be restored in the rule of law policy of the rebuild Imo project.
“That traditional rulers condemned the recent adventure of the former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha and demanded that the administration of Rochas Okorocha be probed for his observable action and inaction during his reign in the state.”
But in his response, Eze Samuel Ohiri through his Chief Press Secretary, Gift Nwokoro said, “Governor Emeka Ihedioha-led administration in Imo State has sounded it loud and clear that his government will adhere to the principle of rule of law in governing the state, hence the governor in this regard knows what to do.
“However, the chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM, Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri( Eze Imo) has the mandate of traditional rulers in Imo State, having been elected on January 18th, 2018 for a term of five (5) years. It is funny to know that in a state that has 650 traditional rulers, less than 100 of them are calling for the removal of their elected chairman. Those traditional rulers are in the minority and we are in a democracy.
“This is not the first time the few traditional rulers are making such unrealistic demand from the current government simply because they want to implement the script of an individual who is bent at distracting the state governor.
“We, the council of traditional rulers invite you to give you information. Our meeting is necessited by something that is happening in the state. Sometime last week, we received complaints from the securty agencies about what is happening and that they are trying to manage it but that it is getting out of hand.
“Some of the actions were caused by Senator Rochas Okorocha and the governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha.
“This has been bothering us. We have observed with serious concern these activities and serious issues and it is important that we make some public statements about them.
“With our status, we enjoy unlimited access to both the former governor and the current governor. So, it is not in our manner to come out and criticize them when we have unfettered access to them.
“Now, these issues have come out and we need to address the issues. All we want in the state is peace and not chaos.
“First of all, we have looked at the happenings in the state and we think it is not proper for the current government to be distracted. There was an election and Imo people came out and elected Emeka Ihedioha.
“There can never be two governors in the state and nobody should disturb him.We know that the recovery of government properties did not start today. It started with Senator Rochas Okorocha who set up that committee headed by Placid Ekwueme. It was Rochas that constituted them.
“This idea that some people leave office and they go out with government properties is not acceptable. Also, Emeka Ihedioha should be guided by what they do because tomorrow, they will leave office and they will face the same thing. We appeal to Senator Rochas Okorocha to play by the rules. You are now a sitting Senator.
“We have seen the amount of money running into tens of billions said to have been used to build a Police station by the Okorocha government for the federal government and also the billions of naira used to build the prison for the federal government.
“For God sake, we have this kind of money in this state and pensioners are dying and somebody is saying that he is building all these for the federal government to come and take over?
“Look at the hospitals that Okorocha’s government built and was given out to the federal government. We have these monies in this state and we are looking for money to pay salaries and pensioners?
“In fact, I want to tell the federal government that Imo State does not have such money to give out. We need those things in our state. We have a lot of challenges we can use these monies to solve.
“We expected that since the Okorocha’s government was APC, the federal government should have been the one bringing in those projects in the state ruled by APC.”