By Dayo Johnson, Akure
Crisis is brewing in Akure, the Ondo State capital, as the Igbo have rejected the alleged imposition of a leader on them by the traditional ruler, Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi.
Kicking against the imposition of Titus Umenweke, the Igbo in the state said: “The imposition of someone who contested and lost election can cause a rift and destroy the relationship between the Igbo and Yoruba in Ondo State”.
Their rejection was contained in a statement by the Onowu of Ndigbo (Ondo State) and Secretary, Association of Ndieze in Diaspora Ohanaeze Ndigbo Ondo State Chapter, High Chief (Sir) Cyril Anyaku and Chief Ikechukwu Anoliefo.
“This is a time bomb that will do no one good”, they warned.
Aladelusi had announced Umenweke as the leader of the Igbo in Ondo after outlawing the title five years ago.
The Igbo people’s statement reads: “The entire Ndigbo in Ondo State rejects the imposition of Leader/Asiwaju of Ndigbo in Akure by his Imperial Majesty Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi.
“To all intent and purposes, the Deji is not an Igbo and has no right to impose a leader on us. If he wants to give Mr Titus Umenweke any chieftaincy title, he can do that without causing a crisis among Ndigbo living in Ondo State.
“This same Umenweke contested with Eze Gregory Iloherika, the current Ndigbo leader and lost and, since 2011, he has not attended any Igbo meeting in Ondo State. “For over 100 years, we have witnessed more than seven Dejis, none in the history of our relationship attempted, not to talk of imposing a leader on us.
“Our constitution provides an election for the leadership of Eze Ndigbo and the constitutional provisions were followed to the letter in the election of Iloherika.
“Eze Gregory Iloherika enjoys the support of the entire Igbo in Ondo State and he should be allowed to be.
“It is therefore strange and unacceptable that Deji would impose a leader on us.
“We are of the belief that there are many tribes and associations within the state and Akure in particular.
“We are not unaware that they have leaders duly elected by themselves, ours should not be an exemption.
“According to the rules guiding Ohaneze Ndigbo, the installation and removal could only be carried out by the people as stated in relevant Section of the rules and regulations guiding the Ohaneze (Igbo community) in Ondo State.
“It is on record that a letter was written by Ondo State government on the 21st of December, 2018 titled, ‘Re-Imminent Resurgence of Crisis over the planned Installation of Asiwaju (Leader) of Igbo in Ondo State, and addressed to the Deji, directed that Kabiyesi should rescind the apparently unhistorical decision to install Asiwaju of Igbo in Ondo State and also withdraw the letter of appointment being paraded by Titus Unwenmeke as having been allegedly issued to him by the Kabiyesi.
“In view of this, knowing full well that there are other Obas and tribes who have been in good relationship with the Igbo in Ondo State, Deji’s own should not be an exception.
“In view of all these, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo enjoins all the Igbo in different communities in Ondo State to cooperate with all the indigenes in order to bring peace in spite of the security challenges in the country”.
Reacting, the Chief Press Secretary to the monarch, Michael Adeyeye, said “there is nothing strange in the appointment to Chief Titus Umenweke as the Asiwaju of the Igbo community just like the appointment of Seriki Hausawa, Ibira community among many others who, despite their appointment, remains the subject of the Deji of Akure Kingdom.
“The general public and the entire Igbo community should consider this outburst as mere wishful thinking and comic relief. “For the avoidance of doubt, Chief Titus Umenweke remains the Asiwaju of the Igbo community as there are sharp and clear differences between associations and traditional Institutions.
“It is on record that the issue of the self – acclaimed title of Nze Ndigbo was not only abolished in the Akure Kingdom but also the entire state and almost in all Yorubaland.
“Such title is considered an aberration and an affront to the culture of the Yoruba and their traditional institution”.
Vanguard News Nigeria