By Justice Nwafor
No fewer than 100 dissatisfied and enraged members of Umuonyeukwu autonomous community in Ikeduru local government area of Imo state stormed Ministry of Community Government Council (CGC) and Traditional Affairs on
Tuesday, 23rd January 2018, demanding for the immediate dethronement of the community’s traditional ruler, HRH Eze Ifeanyichukwu Egeolu.
The protesters are accusing the traditional ruler of mismanaging Governor Rochas Okorocha’s grant of five hundred thousand Naira for the rehabilitation of the community’s rural roads during last Yuletide season.
They displayed placards at the Ministry’s headquarters along Aba road, with inscriptions such as: “Youths are crying, remove Eze Ifeanyi Egeolu for us; All we are saying, Eze Egeolu must go; For peace and unity, Eze must go; Please sir, remove the Eze otherwise something bad will happen; He takes his subjects to Police”, among others.
The protesters accused Eze Egeolu of allegedly demanding for money from members of the community to issue them attestation letters and illegally sacked his cabinet members including the community’s traditional Prime Minister who advised him to retrace his steps and embrace peace.
Meanwhile, the sacked traditional Prime Minister, who was also the spokesman of the protesters, Chief Joseph Dibianta Iheanacho presented a petition addressed to the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs titled “Re: Umuonyeukwu autonomous community, Ikeduru LGA, Imo state; Appeal for Intervention on the Crisis rocking the community — Abuse of Office by HRH Eze Ifeanyichukwu Egeolu”.
Presenting the petition signed by representatives of five villages of the community Nze Reginald Uzukwu ((Umuchudindu), Chief Everest Ohuegbu (Ndiama), Israel Chukwuma (member of Eze’s cabinet for Duruaku/Duruebo), Nze Banabas Nwanekwu (Durunwereji) and Samuel Onumajuru (for Oganihuduruihe) — Chief Iheanacho reiterated that Eze Egeolu should be dethroned, alleging that he (Eze Egeolu) has gone contrary to the Constitution of the community by engaging in acts that suggest he allegedly conferred chieftaincy titles without requisite clearance from the authentic cabinet and town Union members as enshrined in the Constitution.
He also alleged that the embattled Eze locked up the community hall and borehole water system, banned public prayer sessions by Christian groups in the community, sacked over 80% of his cabinet members and the traditional Prime Minister without due process, collected revenue from the government which he single handedly administered without account or Constitution of cabinet members. He gave an instance as the collection of the five hundred thousand Naira grant for the community’s road rehabilitation project, which he said, Eze Egeolu spent without proper account.
Chief Iheanacho further accused Eze Egeolu of working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), disclosing that he has never called for CGC meeting since the inception of the present administration in Imo state, harping that the traditional ruler has turned the community into an arena of disharmony, quarrels, blackmail, and mischievous acts.
He, therefore, pleaded that the state government should intervene in the Crisis to restore peace in the area.
Corroborating chief Iheanacho’s account to Trumpeta, one of the members of the community who was at the venue of the protest revealed that Eze Egeolu has turned the once peaceful community into a shadow of its old self, averring that the members of the community are tired of the Eze and want him dethroned for peace to return to the community.
He, however, warned that if the government fails to act swiftly, he sees a situation where there would be serious breakdown of law and order in the community.
Responding, the commissioner for CGC and traditional affairs, Chief Louis Duru thanked the protesters for taking their grievances to the appropriate authority, urging them to go back in peace as the government would wade into the matter without delay.
Efforts to get the reaction of the embattled Eze on the allegations leveled against him were futile, as calls to his mobile number was not answered as at the time of filing in this report.