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43 old constitution tears Umuoji apart as Igweship tussle lingers


By Okechukwu Onuegbu

The sleepy community of Umuoji in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State has been enmeshed in intra community crisis arising from

the election of her traditional ruler.

The Town union after the burial of their last Igwe, Igwe Cyril Enweze on April 10, 2021, had on May 8, 2021 conducted an election to find a replacement. It was keenly contested by Barr. Simon Mogboh, Chief Kanayo Okoye and Chief Obi Onwuachu.

The election was in line with section 295 of Umuoji constitution which empowers the central executive committee of the town to must conclude everything about the election of new Igwe and announce the Igwe elect within 28days or seven native

weeks after the burial of the late Igwe.

According to President General of Umuoji, Chief Sly Onyima, the trio hail from the same quarter called Dimechem whose turn it is to produce next Igwe.

"Umuoji have four quarters namely Eziora, Ifiteora, Dimechem and Akala. Eziora quarters had produced Igwe Akum Michael Nweze, while Ifiteora quarters produced the immediate past Igwe Cyril Enweze. Umuoji is very peaceful but in every crisis there must be some element of political interest. My job as the president General is to work for peaceful coexistence and the development of our community.

“The crux of the matter was that Umuoji has a constitution made in 1977; that is 43 years ago, on the selection and election of Igwe. We also have our community constitution. It provides that the Igweship of our community must rotate among the four quarters according to seniority. Eziora and Ifiteora had produced, and it is the turn of Dimechem. Dimechem has eight villages such as Agumelom, Idioma, Dimboko, Dianiukwu, Uruaneke, Urumkpu, Umuechem and Umuoma.

“Dimechem people are supposed to present a consensus candidate to the community but couldn't, because of inter-quarter political interest in the town. Three candidates from the quarter indicated interest on the throne. Anambra State government through the office of the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters, and the office of Special Adviser to the governor on chieftaincy matters in collaboration with the community town union agreed that the election should be conducted on May 8, 2021,” he stated.

Onyima maintained that the election was held as scheduled and Chief Anayo Okoye pulled 473 votes, Chief Simon Muogboh (459 votes), while Chief Obi Onwuachu garnered 359 votes.

“But Section 234 of the constitution states that where two candidates qualify but none had 2/3 majority of the votes cast they should go for ratification to produce a winner. The authority to ratify the selection of the lgwe is the Umuoji improvement Union, UIU. So, there is need for a rerun. The government ordered for a re-run to hold on Jun 8, 2021. It was held and Chief Simon Muogbo emerged winner with the highest number of votes cast. The first runner-up in the election of May 8, chief Anayo Okoye and his supporters had boycotted the rerun,” he further stated.

When contacted, Chief Okoye said he did not participate in the re-run because the agreement the community had with the government was that the election should be conducted one day, and secondly, the day of the purported re-run fall exactly on the 28 day within which the constitution says the Igwe elect must be announced.

Okoye added that the issue of re-run was an after-thought because he won with a wider margin, and is patiently waiting for the Anambra State government to issue him with the certificate of recognition as new Igwe of Umuoji.

However, the winner of the re-run election, Chief Simon Muogbo and his supporters, recently protested to the Anambra government house with placards. The spokesman of the group, Barr. Ifeanyi Mbanusi said they were at the government house to show appreciation to governor Willie Obiano, and people of Umuoji for standing firm on the truth and constitution of the town.

Mbanusi, who said they were for peace, implored people to join hand with the ‘Igwe elect’ to bring lasting peace and development in the town.

On her part, the special Adviser to the governor on chieftaincy and town union matters, Barr Vera-Queen Okonkwo, said she had no hand in the election of Igwe Umuoji.

"As the special Adviser, I intentionally stayed out of this election because l am from Dimechem, and my own cousin Chief Obi Onwuachu was among the contestants. What matters to me was peace of the community and development. I am married to Akala. l am not even eligible to vote in that election,” she stated.

“Am not interested on who becomes the Igwe after all they are all my brothers. What boggles my mind was that Umuoji has 23 villages with almost the highest population in ldemili South. l challenge anybody levelling allegations against me to come up with verifiable evidence of my interference in that election either in writing or recorded. I am appealing to my people to rise up for the challenges and embrace peace for the good of our children and children yet unborn,” she stated.

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