The chanting of “Igweee” heralded the arrive of Igwe Chukwudubem Iweka, the traditional ruler of Obosi community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
As he made his way into the ancient traditional parliament (Obi), built in 1908, the council of elders (Ndichie) all dressed in white ceremonial regalia stood up and the exchange of pleasantries followed.
Among them were the Iyoms, the traditional women wing of the Royal Cabinet known as Agadi Obosi who had also come to join in the all-important meeting.
A few minutes later, Iyom Nkiru Ugochukwu, the leader of the women folk, addressed the Igwe in Council expressing their unhappiness over the sacrilege allegedly committed by three cabinet chiefs who she accused of bringing home, the bodies of two young men allegedly shot by security operatives during the re-run election for Idemili North and South Federal Constituency.
“Igwe and Ndichie, we the women of Obosi wish to register our unhappiness over the sacrilege committed by the three titled men.
“We know that Ndichie, and the Igwe are forbidden from seeing corpses but these three titled men supervised this evil.
“The culprits must be punished in accordance with the traditions of our land and until they do the traditional cleansing of the land they cease to be part of what we are doing as members of the cabinet,” she charged.
Later, the Odu of Obosi corroborated the submissions of the women folk, insisting that the trio must be punished in accordance with the customs and traditions of Obosi land.
“What happened on that day is unheard of in Obosi land and the worse of it all is that these people know the grave implications of what they did. I cannot be part of this show of shame and evil on our land. It is my candid advice that we do the needful and ensure that they are made to pay for it,” he told the gathering.
Shortly afterward, the meeting presented a resolution, signed by Prince Bennett Muozie, and which handed down the suspension of the three title holders-Chief Osita Chidoka, former Minister of Aviation; the Ike of Obosi, Chief Hyacinth Udemba and Chief Linus Ngbakaogu.
“After due consultations and deliberations with all the relevant ancient traditional bodies of Obosi, the Igwe in council hereby announce the indefinite suspension from the Igwes Royal Cabinet of the above mentioned Ndichie: Obosi-Chief Osita Chidoka, Chief Linus Ngbakaogu and Chief Hyacinth Udemba for their act of sacrilege and the abomination they committed against the revered age old customs of the people and ancient Obosi Kingdom,” the statement said.
But another faction of the council denied that there was ever a meeting where the action was decided.
The Onowu of Obosi (Prime Minister), Chief Anthony Ezenwabude, said that there was never a meeting held in respect of the resolution, adding that since the killing of the two young men, the Igwe-in-Council had not met on the matter let alone taken any position on the issue in contention.
“Since after the incident that claimed the lives of our two young men, the Igwe-in-Council has not had any meeting where the matter was discussed before making any resolution on the matter. That is why I am against what the Igwe and some members of the cabinet did by suspending the three members of the cabinet. In fact I am not in support of the resolution,” he said.
The suspension also opened a can of worms about the validity of lgwe Chidubem Iweka’s throne as according to one of the affected Ndichie title holders, Chief Linus Ngbakaogu, the throne is still in dispute and there are several litigations in the court challenging his emergence as the Igwe of Obosi kingdom.
“The resolution is a kangaroo one and there was never a time that the Igwe-in-Council met on that. He has no right to suspend any member of the cabinet. I have been the Atta of Obosi for 10 years and the emergence of the Igwe of Obosi is still in contention because there are several cases in the court challenging him.
“We have already lost confidence in him because since he became Igwe in the last five years we have witnessed 76 deaths in our land and this is traceable to his becoming the traditional ruler.
He has been relating with the APGA candidate that contested against our brother, Obinna Chidoka even when the boy stormed the Awada polling units with thugs who were shooting indiscriminately and five of the cabinet members escaped death narrowly on the election day.
“I reported the incident to him and he did nothing about it and the following day, the APGA candidate was at the palace of the Igwe, holding meetings and the man that claims to be our traditional ruler has not said anything about the killings in our community.”
One of the members of the cabinet who, however, was not suspended, Chief Charles Umolu, told reporters that the suspension is illegal, adding that the signatory to the resolution is an impostor who is not a member of the cabinet and has no right to speak on behalf of the cabinet members.
“The issue is not about dumping the bodies in the palace because the youths were angry over the killings; that is why they took the dead bodies to the palace.”
He challenged the monarch to account for the N22 million land deal belonging to the community for which, according to him, the community is demanding an explanation.
“The traditional ruler has been involved in land grabbing and racketeering and he has been cavorting with some youths in the community in the execution of this crime. Those who go to challenge him are those he has been presenting and this style of leadership has not helped the community at all,” he alleged.
However, from all indications, the cabinet has been divided into factions with the Prime Minister apparently leading a faction while the Igwe and Odu are with the other side.
Similarly, the youth of Obosi have also been polarized by this split, while tempers continue to run wild in a town where the likes of the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, comes from.
The unease in the area is indeed a developing story that may further inflame tempers in the community if care is not taken.
However, in his response, Igwe Iweka dismissed claims that he had unilaterally sold land in Obosi without carrying the people along, insisting that the community has a committee charged with the responsibility of looking into land matters, adding that as far as his position is concerned, he had “more important things to do than land issues”.
“The community has committees for everything that it goes into and the issue of land is part of it. As the Traditional Ruler, I have more important things to do than meddling into land issues,” he told Sunday Telegraph.