Only Insignificant 43 Out Of 650 Are Agitating For My Removal — Ohiri
It would appear that the tussle over headship of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers has reverberated. This follows an attempt by a segment of the monarchs to have the council’s deposed chairman, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya reinstated to office.
The immediate past governor, Rochas Okorocha had removed Ilomuanya and installed the Monarch of Obi Orodo autonomous community in Mbaitoli Local Council, Eze Sam Agunwa as Chairman, over alleged frosty relationship and friendly disposition towards perceived opponents of government.
Ilomuanya was accused of enjoying strong affinity with leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, a development Okorocha considered dangerous to his political future and government. Not prepared to be disgraced; Ilomuanya had challenged Okorocha’s action in court. From the state High Court, the matter got to the Supreme Court, with victory at each stage in Ilomuanya’s favour.
However, the various court rulings did not move Okorocha into rescinding his decision on Ilomuanya. But few months after he left office, a group of monarchs in the state have approached incumbent Governor Emeka Ihedioha, asking him to obey the court orders, including the one made by the Supreme Court.
They requested him to sack Eze Sam Agunwa Ohiri as Chairman and reinstate Eze Ilomuanya, who is the monarch of Obinugwu in Orlu. They said reinstating him would enable him complete his five-year tenure as chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers in the state, which was truncated in 2011 by the erstwhile governor.
The monarchs, led by the traditional ruler of Emii autonomous community in Owerri North Local Council, Eze Emmanuel Sonde Okoro, said Ilomuanya’s tenure was prematurely ended by Okorocha, when he assumed office as the governor in 2011, without adherence to the relevant laws.
Okoro, who has been on the throne for 38 years, said it was in the state’s best interest for Ohiri to resign honourably. He maintained they could not continue under his headship, since his alleged benefactor has left office, stressing that his existence in office was embarrassing and unlawful.
Okoro pointed out that Ohiri and Rochas Okorocha “messed up” the state’s traditional institution. He said it would be foolishness on Ohiri’s part to believe that Governor Ihedioha would allow him continue his “gross mismanagement” of the institution in Imo as he did with Okorocha.
He queried the continued stay in office, despite the damage he and Okorocha did to the traditional institution, insisting that it would amount to destruction of the institution. He argued that the Obinugwu monarch was a victim of power play and injustice, which was remedied through the courts, noting that he was suitable to occupy the seat now.
He said: “He won all his cases up to the Supreme Court. Today, he is seen amongst us as our hero and defender of the traditional institution, even at his own peril.”
The monarch said the only justification for the governor, who believes in the rule of law, was to do the needful and reinstate the monarch.
He said: “And for those of us who believe in the rule of law, and like what the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did in the issuance of Certificate of Return to Okorocha as Senator, when he said he was obeying the court order as a good citizen of Nigeria, it is in the same vein and spirit that we had gone to our Governor, asking him to reinstate Eze Ilomuanya as our Chairman, and in complete obedience to several court orders and upholding the spirit of rule of law in Nigeria and Imo State in particular.
“We did not ask for too much. Eze Ohiri should be thankful that Governor Ihedioha has even allowed him to still remain there unlawfully. However, he should stop blackmailing our Governor by his continued unlawful stay as Chairman of our Council.”
But speaking with The Guardian, Ohiri objected to the call for his removal, accusing 43 out of 650 monarchs in the state of spearheading his removal. He described them as insignificant number that should not be given any audience.
He said: “We do not reply everyone. We do not want to make it an issue. They are very minute, insignificant number— 43 out of 650 traditional rulers. We decided not to join issues with them anymore. Ilomuanya’s tenure has gone 16 years ago. We are not going to be distracted by the ranting of these 43 traditional rulers.”
Ohiri is enjoying his second term after he was re-elected early this year before Okorocha exited office on completion of his second tenure. A gigantic palace with buildings for various cultural events was constructed at Mbari premises on Mbari Street, Ikenegbu Layout, Owerri, during his first tenure.