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Published On: Wed, Mar 22nd, 2017

Tension in Rivers as Gov Wike plans review of traditional rulership

By EMEKA EJERE

A culture of fear now pervades the ranks of traditional rulers and royal fathers across the 23 local government areas of Rivers State following moves by the state government to investigate alleged cases of denigration and politicization of the erstwhile revered traditional stools.

 

The state government believes Rivers, a state with high regard for traditional rulership has in recent times metamorphosed into rivers of shenanigans for some power-hungry individuals who not only use their positions for self-adulation but also use same to advance personal wishes and desires other than community interests.

 

This misnomer allegedly arose to a crescendo during the last political dispensation when scramble for chieftaincy stools and creation of new chiefdoms became a recurring decimal.

 

Alleged irregularities that marked such exercises had since left the concerned communities in disharmony, bitterness and divisions, making government to be spending useful times in dispute resolutions.

 

In a bid to restore fairness and probity, Governor Nyesom Wike Monday inaugurated the State Administrative Panel of Inquiry to review the classification of Traditional Chieftaincy in the state.

 

The governor charged the panel to review and make recommendations on the grading/classification of existing and new traditional stools in the state in relation to the system of chieftaincy existing within various clans and localities.

 

Governor Wike had in December last year elevated two traditional rulers in the state to first class and another one to second class chieftaincy. The elevation was contained in a government special announcement signed by the Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Emmanuel Aguma.

 

A statement issued by Mr Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the governor said the governor “in exercise of his powers under the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Law, No. 4 of 2015 , elevated the following chieftaincy stools and recognised the following traditional rulers.

 

“The traditional chieftaincy stool of Amayanabo of Ogu in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of Rivers State is elevated to a First Class Chieftaincy Stool and His Royal Majesty, King Nicholas Dickson Ibiebele Nimenibo (Loko IX) is recognised as Amayanabo of Ogu.

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“The Traditional Chieftaincy Stool of Awoh of Ndoni, in Ndoni, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State is elevated to a First Class Chieftaincy Stool.

 

“The traditional chieftaincy stool of Eze Oha Okoro/Nyenwe Eli of Rumuokoro Clan, in Rumuokoro, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State is classified as a Second Class Chieftaincy Stool and His Royal Highness, Eze Allwell Okwudiwa Owhonda (JP) is recognised as Oha Okoro/Nyenwe Eli of Rumuokoro Clan.”

 

Inaugurating  the  Administrative Panel of Inquiry at the Government House, Port Harcourt , Governor Wike urged the panel to be courageous  in the discharge of their  function, as the repositioning  of the chieftaincy classification  is necessary  for  the  stability  of the state.

 

He regretted that the traditional institution of the state was compromised by illegal politicization and asked the panel to withstand the pressure that is associated with their assignment.

 

Governor Wike further charged the Panel  to ascertain and identify the traditional stools operative in each area of the state, ascertain and identify the area or communities over which each chieftaincy  exercises  authority, ascertain and identify the method of selection of incumbents to each chieftaincy in its area of operation and any chieftaincy stools that were wrongly excluded from recognition, classification and grading.

 

The terms of reference for the Panel Include: “Review applications for traditional Chieftaincy stools from material available in various memoranda including Government and Intelligence reports mentioned in such memoranda.

 

“Make appropriate recommendations on chieftaincy stools that were wrongly recognised, classified or graded including but not limited to withdrawal of recognition, reclassification  and/or declassification of such chieftaincy stools”.

 

The governor added that the Panel should make appropriate recommendations on how vacant chieftaincy stools may be filled.

 

He announced that the Panel has 45 days to submit its report. He directed the panel to hold her public hearings at the Dr Obi Wali Cultural Centre  to accommodate all interest  groups.

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Responding, Chairman of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry, Sir Sam Egbeassured  the governor  that the panel will carry out its duties without  fear or favour.

 

He said that the panel will use the assignment  as its contribution  to  the  development of the state.

 

Other members of the pan­el are: Sir Samuel Ibemeru Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Com­munity Affairs (Sec­retary), Dr Samuel Wenedo (member), Dr Benibo George, Dr Godspower Jackson Iri­kana and Henry Amadi Esq, Principal State Counsel, Ministry of Justice and counsel to the Panel of Inquiry.

 

Meanwhile traditional rulers who benefitted from the unwholesome practices are jittery over a possibility of unfavourable outcome of the panel’s investigations.

 

But those who feel they have no skeleton in their cupboard are not losing sleep as

 

Speaking to our correspondent in his palace, Paramount Ruler of Nonwa Kebra Kingdom of Ogoniland, King Emmanuel Nyedan, set the setting up of the Administrative panel is a step in the right direction “provided members of the panel will equity and fair-play their watch word.”

 

Our correspondent also paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Ruler of Nonwa Wedume, King S.P Nkoue, who express support the governor’s move to “sanitize the traditional institution in the state.”

 

“I have nothing to fear about. Only those who have soiled their hands are jittery.”

 

The chairman of Ogoni Council of Traditional Rulers, King G.N.K Gininwa, could not be reached as at the time of filing this report as he was said to have travelled to Abuja on an official trip.

 

But his Personal Assistant, Chief Fredrick Gininwa told Business Hallmark that there was no cause for alarm.

 

However, a traditional ruler who pleaded anonymity, said all Governor Wike is doing is fight perceived political opponents, expressing doubt in the ability of the panel to conduct a free and fair exercise.

 

 

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