Wednesday, 18 April 2018

War in Pete Edochie's community as Igwe Odegbo holds factional ofala

Chucks Collins

Anambra state government. They bore placards and coffin with inscriptions condemning the Ofala for coming amidst sad occurrences in the community.

The protesters, carried a large white coffin and placards with inscriptions saying, "Odegbo is not our Igwe", "Obiano respect the wishes of Nteje people. Odegbo is not our monarch", "Odegbo this is illegal, you are in court", and so on.

They along the highway overlooking Odegbo's residence which was bubbling with activities without molesting anyone even as armed security agents watched from the sidelines, people were seen in groups discussing the drama. But as they turned back, some irate youths, apparently sympathetic of Odegbo tried to stop them and it became a free-for-all at that point. Some cars of distinguished personalities from out of the state who came for the ofala and chieftaincy honour to some citizens were smashed, while others were injured in the ensuing melee.

Guests jumped into their vehicles and ran for dear lives, same as some natives who took to their heels abandoning their homes for fear of further assault and escalation of the crisis.

Odegbo in a reaction blamed a named multi-billionaire businessman from the community as the brain behind the disturbances including all the legal combat.

He also admitted the pending suit which he initiated at the Supreme Court but was quick to observe that the Ofala did not in any way affect the case. According to him, more than half of all monarchs in the state were currently facing legal actions. The state government approved my Ofala because they  were convinced am not doing anything unlawful.

"Yes some people are challenging me and we are in courts. The substantive suit is still pending at the Otuocha High Court. My main opponent is a very rich man in Nteje, Chief Mike Nwakalor. We want him to use his wealth to develop and uplift the community.

"I was the President General of Nteje for years, went to United States of America and on my return many years after, I was elevated as the Igwe", Odegbo pointed out. He described Ofala as period when Igwe and his subjects meet face to face to celebrate.

When contacted, Anaduaka blamed the situation on non-respect for rule of law by Odegbo. He pointed out that Nteje and Anambra state have written laws on traditional institution that was carefully followed in his selection. But Odegbo went to court and lost.

After the verdict didn't favour him, he went to Court of Appeal and lost again. "Right now he is in the Supreme Court, where we were asked to maintain the status quo. But he ignored it and now went ahead with this ofala which clearly infuriated the citizens thereby leading to fracas and total breakdown of law and order", Anaduaka stated.

Further checks revealed that even the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice had in writing directed the Inspector General of Police to prevail on Odegbo to shelve the ofala, but to no avail.

It was gathered that the Anambra Police command had hard time prevailing on Odegbo to stop the event but that he allegedly used the contacts of the state government to organize the "illegal event", Anaduaka admitted. He however urged citizens to remain law abiding and calm.

Some citizens who were injured have threatened to go to court to have Odegbo committed for illegal gathering.

In his reaction, a member of the royal cabinet and ex-member of the Anambra state House of Assembly, who was also a former chairman of the Oyi Local Government Area, Chief Edwin Aghadinuno lamented that despite telltale signs that all is not well within the community, Odegbo still went ahead with the controversial ofala.

According to him it was Odegbo who lost at the lower courts and had gone to the Supreme Court, but could not wait for the verdict before jumping ahead to celebrate ofala. "This is lawlessness and abuse of court process.

"Again, not long ago five natives were hacked to death over this matter, nothing was done or even said by Odegbo or even the state government. Then few days a woman was mercilessly raped and slaughtered on her farm in Amadiaba village by Fulani herdsmen without anyone saying or doing anything about it. How then can he talk of celebration in this atmosphere; celebrating what?, he asked rhetorically.



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