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Crisis looms in Anambra community over Igweship title as clans head for court

An Onitsha based lawyer, Mr. Emeka Aghanonu and the immediate past President General, Utuh Development Union, Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, has dragged the leadership of the town union to an Nnewi High Court over what they alleged as a breach of the community constitution.

When the matter came up Monday before Justice O. M. Anyaechebelu of Nnewi High Court [I], the Plaintiff told the court that the matter before him was predicated upon the fragrant abuse of office and breach of the town’s constitution by the incumbent President of the town in the process of selection of their traditional ruler.

In a 33 paragraph affidavit in support of his originating summons brought pursuant to order 3 rule 6 of the Anambra, among other things, for a declaration, that nomination of members of selection committee of the new Igwe/Obi of Utuh by officers of the union and chairmen of various villages is inconsistent with the provision of Utuh Development Union constitution and therefore null and void.

That it is the right of Central Representative Assembly or Annual General Assembly in any of their various meeting to nominate two members each from the three quarters of the town namely, Enugwu, Amakom and Ebenator, as the members of selection committee of a new Igwe/Obi of Utuh and not officers of the union or the village chairmen, or any other person or group among others.

In his reply, the defense counsel and the Legal Adviser of Utuh Development Union, Sir. Charles Elodi told the court that he has a preliminary objection, but the plaintiff denied report of service.

The presiding judge at this juncture, directed them to go and complete their report of service, saying that all motion and interlocutory injunctions or motions should be taken together and adjourned the matter till 13 July, 2016 for continuation.

In an interview shortly after the court proceedings, the defence counsel, Elodi told journalists that the crux of the matter was that their traditional ruler died in 2014 and had been buried.

He said after the burial there arose the need to set a committee for the selection of a new traditional ruler based on the constitution and other processes for the selection.

“Because of this, there was a need for the amendment of the constitution to be in tune with the popular demand and to remove certain objectionable obstacles that are obsolete and as well clauses that will be an impediment to the selection and installation of the new traditional ruler.

“Suffice it to say also, that the process followed was contained in section 38 of the constitution which provides for amendment when the need arises. But while the process was going on, the plaintiff, Mr. Emeka Aghanonu filed a counter motion challenging the amendment which was enclosed by many after it was put to vote and over 99% voted in favour” he said.

According to him, the plaintiff is contending that certain sections of the constitution have been breached and certain people who are not valid members of representatives Assembly voted.

On his part, the immediate past President -General of the town and the third plaintiff in the pending suit, Mr. Jimmie Asoegwu alleged that he was nominated to Igwe in council from his Ebenator Village. “The whole thing is that when people refuse to respect the rule of law, what you find is impunity.

“The incumbent President, Fabian Onwughalu, called other nominees of the development union and appointed them as members of New Igwe selection committee.

“During the process, they boycotted all the provisions of the constitution that said that the sons of the late Igwe should nominate one person among themselves and send to the town union in writing.

“The committee is expected to screen the person and rectify, but instead they wrote to their late Igwe’s uncle to nominate one person and forward to the town union, but unfortunately the person the uncle nominated died after two days, so they were in a dilemma.

“They also went and amended seven paragraphs of the constitution to fit into what they wanted to do, this time by nominating one of the late Igwe’s son.

“But you cannot amend the constitution when the issue is in the front burner otherwise you are changing the goal post at the middle of the game.

“I am in full support of Emeka Aghanonu asking the court to interpret the process of amendment since the president has discarded all constitutional provisions. It is also important to know that since then the situation has created chaos and anarchy in the town,” Asoegwu alleged.

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