…As 3 monarchs apologise
Awka—THE controversy trailing the conferment of chieftaincy titles on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah by some traditional rulers in Anambra State has taken a new dimension, with the Obi of Onitsha and chairman of Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, accusing Governor Chukwuma Soludo of not showing respect to Anambra monarchs.
One of the traditional rulers who conferred a chieftaincy title on Ubah, Igwe Damian Ezeani, was suspended by the state government, but he has since apologised and withdrew the title on Ubah.
Two other monarchs, Igwe Ebelendu from Agulezechukwu in Aguata and Igwe Mbamalu from Ojoto in Idemili South, have also apologised to the governor for conferring titles on Ubah.
In a strongly-worded reaction addressed to the state Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Town Union Matters, Collins Nwabunwanne, Igwe Achebe urged Governor Soludo to exercise the powers he has with due sensitivity and humaneness.
He said the commissioner’s statement that a minority of traditional rulers have demonstrated a penchant for trading chieftaincy titles for money, thereby bringing the traditional institution to ridicule and disrepute, was insulting.
The monarch said: “You publicly visited the sins of an unrecognised self-acclaimed traditional ruler on the entire state traditional institution, to which he does not belong.
“Without providing evidence for your sweeping statement about trading chieftaincy titles for money, you also, wittingly or not, indicted the entire traditional institution of the state.”
Press Secretary to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, Christian Aburime had in a statement, said the monarchs have respectively apologised to the Anambra State government and withdrawn and cancelled the chieftaincy titles conferred on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah because it contravenes the State Traditional Rulers’ law.
Aburime’s statement read in part: “This action by the three traditional rulers was in direct contravention of the State Traditional Rulers’ code, which outlines the rules and regulations regarding the granting and revocation of chieftaincy titles.
“Consequently, the titles of Ikemba Ojoto, Odenjiinji Neni and Dike Eji Eje Ogu earlier bestowed on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah have been withdrawn and cancelled by the three Igwes.
“This was contained in their respective letters of apology to the state government, which also confirmed the withdrawal and cancellation of the chieftaincy titles which they variously described as nullity.”
According to Igwe Achebe, the press release by the governor to a global audience had put the traditional institution into disrepute, adding that a direct circular letter to all traditional rulers as the parties of interest would have sufficed.
Achebe’s reaction read: “The tone and language of your letter were, by any measure, a public riot act and pontification to the same majority of traditional rulers that you extolled as acting with dignity and integrity.
The letter lacked respect and sensitivity in addressing the traditional rulers of Anambra State who, by any standard, are held in very high esteem in the comity of the traditional institutions of Nigeria and beyond.
“Your letter also stated that lgwe Damian Ezeani, as the traditional ruler of Neni, conferred such a phantom chieftaincy title on one Senator Ifeanyi Ubah in violation of the Code of Conduct and without clearance from the Ministry.
“The Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, ASTRC, cannot yet take a view on the violation of the Code of Conduct until it receives a report from the ad-hoc committee it set up to meet with lgwe Neni. Nevertheless, it is very manifestly presented above that no written directives on the conferment of chieftaincy titles existed before January 8, 2024 when lgwe Neni was suspended.
“Your reference to a second-term Right Honourable Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as ‘one Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’ is most disrespectful, offensive and unbecoming of one holding a political office as commissioner.
“It is noteworthy that a person can only qualify to contest elections after scaling through the highest level of security checks at the federal level. Furthermore, Distinguished Senator Ubah holds a chieftaincy title of his hometown, Nnewi, conferred on him by his monarch and Grand Patron of the Anambra State Traditional Institution, His Majesty, lgwe Kenneth O. Orizu. He is also a well-known business investor in Anambra State and a generous philanthropist.
“Thus, assuming that lgwe Neni did not strictly comply with the Code of Conduct, would the foregoing factors not be sufficiently extenuating to warrant a far less sanction on him as was meted to some other traditional rulers that also failed to comply?
“The severity of suspension and threat of withdrawal of Certificate of Recognition suggests that there may be other issues with either lgwe Neni or Distinguished Senator Ubah, which are being stealthily ventilated in this circumstance.
“I would like to state very clearly that your handling of this matter of conferment of honorary chieftaincy titles is the apogee of the progressive dehumanization and dismantling of the traditional institution of Anambra State by the present administration.”