By Vincent Ujumadu – Awka
One of the 12 suspended Anambra traditional rulers and Igwe of Alor in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, MacAnthony Elibe Okonkwo, has apologized to the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, and the state’s Traditional Rulers’ Council for violating certain rules guiding the operation of traditional institution in the state.
Okonkwo was among the 12 traditional rulers suspended for one year by the state government for travelling to Abuja with the billionaire oil magnate, Prince Arthur Eze, to see President Muhammadu Buhari without permission from the state government.
Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Greg Obi, had in a circular he signed, said that the monarchs were suspended because they travelled outside the state without approval by the government.
But at a press briefing in his palace, the Alor monarch admitted his wrongdoing and tendered an “unreserved apology” to the state government, the Traditional Rulers’ Council, members of his cabinet and his subjects.
“It was a serious slip on my part not to have informed the government about the trip to Abuja before embarking on it. I, therefore, tender an unreserved apology”, the monarch said.
On the trending video where he was seen alongside some of his embattled colleagues counting some money, Igwe Okonkwo dispelled the rumour that he was induced with money and gifts before agreeing to accompany Prince Eze to see President Buhari.
He said that the money he was seen counting was meant for his driver and other aides for their upkeep and wondered how somebody of his status who had made money before becoming a king would be accused of taking bribe.
The Monarch said: “How can they call it bribe? What kind of bribe is that? That is a total fallacy? I was counting out money for my driver and other aides for fuel and their welfare.
“I have never taken any bribe in my life from anybody. But if I wish to do, you have to pack Ghana-Must-Go bags of dollars up to 10 or 20, if I receive them, then you will be talking about bribe.
“Secondly, Ndi Igwe do not have constitutional right to remove the governor or do anything to him. We are not lawmakers who have such constitutional rights.
“Are you talking about a man who has shared up to 150 Keke NAPEP in his community of taking bribe? Are you talking about a man who gives out up to five SUV Jeeps to his subjects every year?
“Are you talking of a man that builds houses for the poor? Are you talking about a man that 72 students enjoy his scholarship in Alor community? Alor people can testify to that.
“Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, I spent several million to procure food items and other materials which I distributed to my subjects as palliatives. The video and pictures are on my Facebook wall. So, what kind of bribe are they talking about?”
He appealed to the state government and his colleagues to pardon his wrongdoing even as he called on the Traditional Rulers’ Council to wade into the feud between Governor Obiano and Prince Arthur Eze with a view to brokering peace between them.