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Abia govt washes her hands off Arochukwu Ezeship tussle

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Abia govt washes her hands off Arochukwu Ezeship tussle

From Peter Okore, Umuahia

As the controversy over the selection of prospective Eze-Aro for the Arochukwu Ancient Kingdom of Abia state assumes new dimensions of legal battle following the arrest and arraignment of one Mazi Godwin Kanu Idei at an Umuahia Magistrate Court, the Abia state Government has made it clear that it has no hands in the selection of who becomes the Eze –Aro.

Rather, “government is only insisting on the reign of peace, rule of law and tranquility” in all the communities of the state.

The state commissioners for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prince Uzor Nwachukwu, who dropped this clarification during an interaction with journalists in Umuahia dismissed the insinuation making the rounds that Governor Alex Otti has a preferred candidate in the Eze-Aro enthronement tussle in Arochukwu LGA of the State, saying ,”His Excellency, the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti does not have any interest in the process, who emerges or becomes the Eze Aro”.

His words: ”Governor Alex Otti is only trying to ensure that the people obey the laws they ( Arochukwu Kingdom) instituted by themselves. The key interest of the Governor is to ensure peace and tranquility as well as ensuring that the processes of the Kingdom are followed.

“What the government is trying to do is to ensure peaceful and harmonious existence in every community according to the laid down rules and laws. These rules and the procedures of who emerges as Eze Aro, were enacted by the people, not the government and they submitted same to government as part of their laws that govern their community. The government is not trying to mandate them to do something different from their own set-rules”.

The Commissioner recalled the personal commitments of Governor Otti to the peaceful settlement of the matter and noted that at a point, the governor invited the two contestants and advised them to sit-together and resolve the issues. They met and were unable to resolve their differences. Instead, they went back and fixed different dates for their coronations . Government merely declared “both of you cannot go that way.”

According to the commissioner, “if the Governor has any interest, he would have told his preferred candidate to go ahead to hold coronation”. Prince Nwachukwu further explained that following the situation, he wrote a letter to the Police and the two individuals involved were forced to reconsider their positions, regretting that , “even at that, one of them still went ahead and had his coronation done in the secret.

” Historically, for an Eze Aro to emerge , a contestant must come from any of the families that produce a king. Ironically, there are two families in contention in this instance. Once the king- makers screen those who have presented themselves, whoever they choose, is presented to the ‘Eze Ibom Isii’ to be crowned, Eze-Aro. The duty of the Eze Ibom Isii is to do the crowning ,his duty is not to choose.

“But, in this case, the selection committee finished its duty by selecting one candidate, who was not the choice of the Eze Ibom Isii to crown.

” So at the time that the Eze Ibom Isii chose the candidate as against the people whose traditional authority was to produce a candidate, they raised alarm and wrote a petition to the Government.”

As the commissioner put it, “It was at that point when the petition was written that the government told the Eze Ibom Isii to suspend what he was doing and go back to the process and follow the procedure as established by the tradition of his people. He flouted this directive . It was when the Eze Ibom Isii failed to rescind his decision that he was suspended by government according to the law. Based on his refusal to rescind his decision and to settle allegations that were being created in Arochukwu, Abia state government appointed an Administrative panel of inquiry to look into the matter. The panel has since concluded its assignment and submitted its report to the government. Government’s White Paper on that Report will be issued soon”.

According to sources, Mazi Kanu Idei was said to have been “duly crowned the king of Arochukwu Kingdom” by the Ibom Isii kings-makers last November but his kingship is being challenged by Pastor Eberechukwu Orji, whose supporters regard as the Eze Aro designate.

However, while the purported crowning of Mazi Kanu Idei is yet to be recognized by the Abia State government, the police on Friday, January 5, 2024 arrested and clamped him into detention for allegedly parading himself as Eze Aro IX.

Following the development, Kanu Idei was arraigned in an Umuahia Magistrate Court.. Accoding to prosecution Kanu Idei was arraigned on three count charges bothering on impersonation, false representation and engaging in conducts likely to cause breach of peace in Arochukwu kingdom.

In the charge No. U/03C/2024: Commissioner of Police Vs Mazi Godwin Kanu Idei, read before Chief Magistrate Onwutuebe Madu, the prosecutor, C.C Nwaobilor, Esq outlined the offences allegedly committed by the monarch.

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In the first count, Mazi Idei was alleged to have on January 1, 2024 at Oror village in Arochukwu “conspired with others now at large to commit felony to wit: personation and conduct likely to cause breach of peace”.

The alleged offence, according to the prosecutor, is punishable under Section 516A(a) of the Criminal Code, Cap 80, Vol 3 Laws of Abia State of Nigeria 2005.

In count two, the defendant was accused of breaching Section 484 of the Criminal Code of Abia by “falsely representing himself as Eze Arochukwu Kingdom with intent to defraud members of the public”.

The third count has to do with Mazi Kanu Idei’s new year message titled “New year speech by Eze Aro, Mazi Godwin Kanu Idei and appreciation to all Umu Aro Okeigbo and Arochukwu Kingdom Worldwide”.

According to the charge, the online publication made by Mazi Kanu Idei where he presented himself as the Eze Aro IX of Arochukwu Kingdom was likely to incite the people of Arochukwu Kingdom into breakdown of law and order”.

This alleged offence was deemed to be punishable under Section 249(d) of the aforementioned Abia State Criminal Code.

After the charges were read, Mazi Kanu Idei was granted bail on self recognition on the sum of N100,000 with two sureties on like sum, while Chief Magistrate Madu adjourned the case to February 2, 2024.

Speaking with journalists after the court proceedings, the defence counsel, Jude Nwaokoro, said that the bail granted his client was a signified “democracy in action”.

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