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INTERVIEW

I’m the bonafide Obi of Obinugwu –Eze Nwangwu

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Recently, Governor Rochas Oko­rocha of Imo State deposed Eze Cletus Ilomuanya as the Obi of Obinugwu. In his stead, the governor installed Eze Stanley Sim­eon Nwangwu. Since then, controver­sies have trailed the action. In this inter­view, Eze Nwangwu stakes his right to the stool. The 78-year-old monarch also takes on Eze Ilomuanya, saying that the latter had single-handedly written the constitution of the Obinugwu and im­posed it on the community to make him­self the monarch. He spoke to GEORGE ONYEJIUWA in Owerri. Excerpts:

It has been alleged by people of Obinugwu that you are actually from Ndianiche in Arondizuogu and not from Obinugwu. So, where are actually from?

It is arrant nonsense for anybody to say that I am not from Obingwu, because to say that I am not from Obinugwu is to say that Obinugwu is not in existence, because without the head, there is no body. I was the traditional prime minister of Ihitte- Owerre before the creation of Obinugwu autonomous community. Nobody, including Cletus Ilomuanya, made any such statement. I am a bonafide native of Obinugwu and Cletus Ilomuanya knows that. Now, it will interest you to know that Cletus Ilomuanya is neither the first son of Edwin Ilomuanya nor was his father the first son of his grandfather; his village is also not the first village in Obinugwu community.

It may also interest you to know that Cletus Ilomuanya, who is saying that I am not from Obinugwu… now let me tell that his family were banished from Ihitte- Owerre years back for murder. Chekwuwa Ilomuanya killed this first son, Oduenyi known as Obiora, which was a sacrilege and so they banished his family and they were only allowed back after several interventions by good-hearted people in the community and the then Eze Ezerioha 11, had only consented to allow his family back to Obinugwu on the condition that any of their daughters born on Afor day must always be married off by the Eze himself.

So, it is surprising for Cletus Ilomuanya to say that I am not a true son of Obinugwu. His father, Edwin Ilomunaya, was the chairman of my “Red Cap” chieftaincy in 1981. Did his father say that I am not a son of Obinugwu?

Okay, if I am not a true son of Obinugwu, how did I become a foundation member of the cabinet of Eze Ezerioha 111? How did I become the traditional prime minister of Ihitte-Owerre? Now, I would like Cletus Ilomuanya to deny that he never sent Eze Okwuaka of Asaa to appeal to another Eze to convince me to become his traditional prime minister which I rejected and told his emissaries that my village is the first in Obinugwu and that if I accept to become his traditional prime minister that I would have sold the birthright of both my family and village and that the gods of the land would destroy my family for such betrayal. So, what he and his cohorts are saying is nothing but nonsense. Even the constitution he used to make himself Eze, was written by him and he only presented it to the community to sign. If Cletus Ilomuanya continues to cast aspersions on my person, then I will reveal to the world where his family comes from in Ideato.

Are you saying that Ilomuanya is not from obinugwu?

Going by the atrocity, which was committed by his family, they were no longer regarded as freeborn of Obinugwu. His grandfather died and was buried in Ideato. Ilomuanya cannot tell you that his placenta was buried in Obinugwu. Mine was buried on the land where I am presently living and that makes me a bonafide son of the land, according to Igbo tradition.

So, if you are a true son of the Obinugwu community, why would members of the community declare you persona non grata, when the state government appointed you as the new Obi of Obinugwu?

That is the stock-in-trade of Cletus Ilomuanya. Since he made himself the Eze, he has been manipulating the people of the community. Yes, it is true that people were asked to pay N100,000 and N200,000 for associating with me after the state government had pronounced me as the new Obi of Obinugwu and it is the handiwork of Cletus Ilomuanya. Even those who had published an advertorial in the newspaper in support of me were bundled back to the community by Ilomuanya’s thugs to recant their statements or be dealt with. Some were even forced to sign documents that their contents were never read to them. But my life has been in the hands of God, otherwise, he would have eliminated me a long time ago. I have never slept in my house in the village since 1997 because of the Ezeship tussle.

Are you implying that advertorials published in national newspapers signed by chiefs from all the villages in the community, and those by Obinugwu sons and daughters in the Diaspora saying that they have implicit confidence in Eze Cletus Ilomuanya as Obi of Obinugwu, is false?

It is all manipulations and if anybody has signed anything in support of Cletus Ilomuanya, they have simply done so because they want to live till tomorrow, not because they did not know my community is the first village or that Ilomuanya family was once banished from Ihitte-Owerre. Cletus Ilomuanya’s stock-in-trade is intimidation.

You alleged that Cletus Ilomuanya manipulated the constitution. How is it possible for an individual to manipulate a constitution of an entire community?

If you know his antecedents, you will know that he is capable of anything. He can’t deny that he manipulated the constitution. Because of his influence, people simply signed whatever he presented to them just to avoid trouble and that was what happened. Now, why did he not allow for a level playing field on the Ezeship matter, and this is somebody whose father and grandfather were never made an nze or chief?

Now, what is the situation in Obinugwu?

The situation on ground is that now, I am the new Obi of Obinugwu as recognised by the state government. This is what brought me back to my village after being chased away by Cletus Ilomuanya.

But the people of Obinugwu have also stated that they never nominated anybody to the governor to be made an Eze. How about that?

If the people did not present me, how did I become the traditional prime minister of Ihitte-Owerre?

But that was before the creation of Obinugwu autonomous community

Yes. But that was before Cletus Ilomuanya installed himself as the Eze.

But he was installed by the then millitary administration of the state?

He manipulated the military government in the state to install him as the Eze of the community.

Are you saying now that the Obinugwu people support your installation by the state government?

Yes, they are 100 per cent in support of me; because nobody has done what I have done for them. I built 27 roads for the community; I built a bridge for the community, secondary school block during the late Chief Sam Mbakwe’s time, so that our children can go to school. I have given scholarship to many people in the community, from secondary school to university and the beneficiaries are still alive. I also trained a lot of the youths in my line of business; at least 80 per cent of successful businessmen in Obinugwu today were through my effort.

Eze Ilomuanya said Obinugwu became an autonomous community through his effort.

When he was bragging that he bought the throne with four million, I told the person who informed me to tell him to come and collect eight million from me. Precisely, on January 18, 1997, he did everything to eliminate me because of the throne, after I had defeated him in the court. He even asked me to return the staff of office given to me by the late Eze Ezeioha of Ihitte- Owerre as the traditional prime minister.

You said you had defeated him in the court?

He left the Ezeship tussle and wrote a petition against me, that I was a thorn in the flesh of our people. The case lasted nine years in the court and I defeated him. That is why my people now called me back and after I won the court case, Ilomunanya asked me to return the instrument of authority as the traditional prime minister of Ihitte-Owerre to him and I asked him if the chieftaincy title given to him by the same Ezerioha after he had given him a cow has he returned it? I also asked him whether others returned theirs. But I reminded him to relinquish the throne because he is not the right person to occupy it nor his village because, in Obinugwu, we have a tradition where things are shared according to seniority.

Let me repeat, Cletus Ilomuanya is not the first son of his father nor was his father, Edwin, the first son of his father and his village Umunwanturume is not the first in Obinugwu. So, there is no way that he would have become the Obi of Obinugwu, except by imposing himself on the community.


News Credit – Sun News Online

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ebere Moses Okorie

    January 16, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Historically, congratulations,a community under your authority through the ancestors was blessed with a nine indivisible villages hierarchically;Obinukabia>Umudim>Umukoko>Ukoma>Umuezike& so on well known to you,I inherited through my ancestors(my predecessors)the Heir of Umukoko kindred&HRH Eze Stanley A.Nwangwu(Obi of Obinugwu) inherited same in Obinukabia(number one),therefore,A GOOD WINE NEEDS N O BUSH!.

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How ENTRACO agents ambush motorists in Owerri

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How ENTRACO agents ambush motorists in Owerri
By Emeka Ani

Motorists in Owerri have raised the alarm over constant harassment by officials of the Imo State Environmental Transformation Commission – ENTRACO.

The drivers claim that the officials of the Commission ambush them at various deplorable points of roads in the capital city, waiting for them to contravene either the “One-Way” drive or to drive against traffic by using the wrong lane.

A victim of the commission told The Leader, “You know that some portions of the dual carriage roads in Owerri are so deplorable that only tippers and lorries can access the flooded portions. So, in order to avoid the damaged portion, those of us with small cars drive against traffic to avoid getting stuck in the flood. And as soon as you try to avoid the flood, the ENTRACO officials, who know the travails of motorists and lay ambush will swoop on you, arrest you and drag you to their office where you are made to pay a certain amount of fine.”

“The ENTRACO boss and his team are aware that some roads in Owerri, especially in New Owerri are in very bad shape and no sensible driver will use them. The only solution is to use the section of the road that is manageable, and which the Commission says is an offence. What exactly do they want motorists to do in that circumstance?. Carry our vehicles on the head? So, let the State Government address the state of roads, make them motorable instead of ambushing motorists who try to save their vehicles from the deplorable roads.”

A caller on Ozisa Radio Fm Owerri on Wednesday confirmed the above claim, as she too was a victim. According to her, she was trying to avoid a bad portion along the West End Axis of Owerri when she was encountered by ENTRACO officials who dragged her and her vehicle to ENTRACO office at Owerri Municipal for disobedience to one-way drive. They deflated the four tyres of her car. To retrieve the car, she had to pay N20,000, which surprisingly was not receipted.

Another complaint during the radio programme was lack of uniform payment for a particular offence. According to a contributor to the interactive session, the official fine for driving against traffic is said to be N5,000. But officials of ENTRACO demand as much as N15,000 and N20,000 for the same offence.

The Commission was therefore asked to make public official fines for various traffic offences and illegal parking etc, to avoid disagreement.

Responding, the ENTRACO General Manager, Hon Macdonald Ebere apologized for the overzealousness of some of his staff and asked victims to contact his office if they felt aggrieved by the actions of his staff. He also reeled out various phone numbers to be contacted if victims were not satisfied by the actions of his commission.

Hon. Ebere noted instances where he had to sack some overzealous staff who dainted the image of his commission.

However, the issue of payment of N20,000 by a victim which was not receipted and the official fine for various offences so as to guide motorists and reduce confusion and conflicts, were yet to be addressed.

Hon. Ebere warned motorists, street traders and owners of illegal structures to obey ENTRACO directives, adding that the three weeks notice given to them had elapsed.

In answer to another question, the ENTRACO boss said his commission would soon address various illegal motor parks in Owerri Municipal.

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INTERVIEW

Odenigbo has helped Ndigbo to appreciate the beauty, richness of Igbo Language – Archbishop Obinna

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Odenigbo has helped Ndigbo to appreciate the beauty, richness of Igbo Language – Archbishop Obinna

The Leader publishes the last part of our exclusive interview with Archbishop Obinna on the Silver Jubilee of the inauguration of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province and his Installation as Metropolitan of the Province.

Excerpts:

Your Grace, you established Odenigbo lecture series in 1996. Do you think it has achieved the purpose for which it was established?

The issue is that at some stage the Igbos who were learned, felt that because you spoke English that meant that you were learned, forgetting that even through the Igbo language you are also learned and that our ancestors had used this language to bring us all up before the white man came. If we had to depend on English for our survival, all along Igbo would not have existed. So Odenigbo has helped our people to appreciate the beauty and richness of the Igbo language and it is also helping the church to spread the good news using the Igbo language. There has been a flowering of even publications in the Igbo language. Music in Igbo language is better appreciated than music in English, especially from the cultural point of view and even from the church/spiritual point of view.

When I think of such songs as “Ihe nke okwukwe abiala,” well, I am sure there are English songs that talk about light, but this one touches the way the Igbo language penetrates better into the Igbo soul, into the Igbo heart than English.

Those who teach Igbo have continued to appreciate what I have done for them because there was a time those who did or taught Igbo were considered low class but with the Odenigbo lecture series those studying Igbo Linguistics feel a great sense of belonging to the academic world too and those who studied Christianity or Religion also recognize that these are fields of study that are also valued not necessarily monitarily but spiritually and culturally. So, a lot of people, even among my co-workers, who used to speak English so much, they now address issues using the Igbo language and when I go on pastoral visits, addresses are also presented to me in Igbo language.

It’s not only about the language, we have been able to touch some traditions, like the ofo. I have been able to go or send priests to now look at the ofo, the symbol of authority in families and compounds. We have been able to translate the ofo into the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, because “Obe Jesu Kristi” is the ultimate ofo, the ultimate ogu; only Christ could have carried the sins of the world.

So, by studying the symbols, we also discover the meanings embedded in them and how they co-relate with higher meanings, the universal meanings that are embedded in the Christian symbols. Likewise, the issue of “ikwa ala.” I have handled that. The issue of incest, having to use Nnabe, Okuko ayaniriya etc, instead of using those symbols and going through an ordeal that is embedded in arusi, we now have created a process or some ordeal but is not anchored in arusi. So we are able to do the purification and reconciling of the people without resort to traditional symbols. We take the meanings and elevate them to a more dignified position.

As we celebrate the silver jubilee of the province and your installation as the Archbishop, what is your message to the province on this occasion?

When the bishops of this province agreed that we celebrate this moment, it was considered a spiritual moment, a moment to deepen further, the light of faith that has reached us, which is also the good news of salvation. So my message is that we all use this moment to deepen our faith, our knowledge of God in Christ, to welcome this good news into the intimacy of our mind, our spirits, our bodies, our families, of our communities.

The prayer we are offering “Ekpere inye ekele na ncheta iri afo abuo na ise nke province owere,” captures the trust of the celebration, which is evangelization intent. So, both the prayer and the mbem (anthem), the provincial anthem which was taken from the Centenary, we are using it to deepen, to purify our lives and make the faith more solid among our people. It is also a challenge to every Catholic to proclaim the good news wherever he or she is. So, it’s not just our coming together to eat and drink, it is a challenge to become more committed Catholics, more committed devotees. That has been really behind whatever we are doing.

The catechetical quiz has already taken place among the children and also among all of us. We already had the symposium earlier, on the unity and integrity of the Catholic faith which took place at the Seat of Wisdom Seminary, then the music fiesta that we had a few days ago, is also part of using music to glorify God and to spread the good news of salvation. So, I see every aspect of it as an illustration of our faith or an expression of missionary trust.

When we feed the poor on the 2nd of September, it is also part of our duty and mission to continue to care for the poor and the needy among us. Yes, we do that quite regularly, we want them to be part and parcel of this celebration. The colloquium we have on Catholic Missioning across the world and Catholic missioning in our province, is a direct invitation for all of us to become missionaries of the faith and in the faith.

So, my message is deepen your faith in the light of the Silver jubilee celebration, which echoes into our hearts, into our land, the good news of salvation and may we become more committed Catholic missionaries in the villages, the parishes, work places, every community, along the streets, in our fields, in our offices, on the roads, cars, aeroplanes, wherever you are, be a missionary. Thank you.

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Ban on armed cattle herders: Chief Finbar Ogunta gives kudos to South East governors, calls for more joint ventures

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Ban on armed cattle herders: Chief Finbar Ogunta gives kudos to South East governors, calls for more joint ventures

By John Agbakwuru

South East governors have been commended for their recent ban on the movement of armed cattle-rearers in their various communities.

They have also received a pat on the back for the decision to henceforth monitor from the air, the security conditions of the forests in the region.

An Owerri-based, business man and community leader from Ideato North, Chief Sir Finbar Ogunta, gave the commendations at the weekend while chatting with The Leader.

He also proffered solutions to the perennial insecurity challenges in the country, assessed the adequacy of current measures being applied by the federal and state governments to this nagging issue.

Chief Ogunta spoke on the role religious leaders should play in influencing their members and sanitizing their communities, so as to nip insecurity in the bud as well as check youth unemployment and restiveness and government’s attitude to the “Revolution now” activists.

Below are excerpts of the answers to the questions fielded:

The South East governors ban on armed cattle herdsmen is a welcome development. We have been waiting for such decision for a very long time. Our governors should know that we do not expect too much from them. This is a simple way of protection of our mothers in the villages. The decision did not harm the Igbos, fulanis or the herdsmen because Igbos are also doing business in Hausaland and they have never destroyed any life or property there.

The Hausas /Fulani have been doing business with us since ever we knew them. There has never been a time they destroyed any life or crop till recently. But since it looks as if they have support from powers that be, things have gone bad. The impunity with which they act has worsened things. From their behaviours, you will know that they are not afraid at all.

On his solution to the widespread insecurity in the country, Chief Ogunta said: First and foremost, we should be sincere to ourselves about the security agencies that we have in this country. They are created by the law of the land to protect the citizens, but certain issues militate against their efforts to do so. They are not better equipped than the aggressors/criminals. Their welfare should be improved upon in terms of good salaries, health allowance, housing and family welfare.

The government should improve on their welfare and allow them to co-ordinate and work together to curb insecurity.

Asked how effective government measures have been, in fighting insecurity, he replied. In my opinion, the measures that the federal and state governments have been applying so far are like one step forward, five steps backward. The insecurity in the system has been politicized, tribalized, regionized and used to waste tax payers money.

To this effect, the government at all levels should be pro-active and sincere in fighting insecurity in Nigeria.

Speaking on how religious leaders (Christian and Islam) can help nip insecurity in the bud, he said: As a Knight of the Catholic Church, I feel leaders from all religions have so much to contribute to curb insecurity in Nigeria. Their followers listen and practice what they hear from them, therefore they should preach peace. Our religious leaders in this country with the amount of wealth they control can create jobs and employ so many youths to reduce idle hands who are being used as tools to fuel insecurity in the country. The religious leaders should start to educate and enlighten their followers, especially the youth on the implications of being used to put wrong people in position of authority in Nigeria. They should also condemn all actions and inactions perpetrated by the tools of insecurity in all parts of the nation. In other words, all killings and other vices should be condemned in totality.

On how to put an end to youth restiveness, Chief Ogunta said: Regarding youth restiveness, In our culture, we used to pick our young ones and freely train them in different lines of business and at the end help them start up their own.

History has shown that the most successful men in Igbo land went through that process. So, I still feel that people should be encouraged to help train our young ones through that culture to help curb the restiveness of youths in Nigeria. Religious leaders should also put pressure on the government both state and federal to create jobs to engage at least from 1000 to 2000 youths every year in each state. Such meaningful jobs, especially setting up of industries or institutions should be based on skills acquisition. This must be fought for collectively by all religious leaders in various states.

Discussing how Governor Emeka Ihedioha can achieve his “Rebuild Imo Agenda”, Sir Ogunta replied: Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has been in government as a Federal Legislator in this country for many years, making laws for the good running of Nigeria. Therefore, he has the capacity of knowing what the people want. He should remember that PDP has been out of power for some years. It is good, he came up with the Rebuild Imo Agenda. To make rebuild Imo agenda a reality, I will advice that he should use only people who have integrity. Governor Ihedioha should try as much as he can to avoid those who want to make all their fortune in a night, meaning, desperate wealth-seekers, sycophants and unqualified persons in various ministries and departments.

Any other burning issue?

The only burning issue I have in this country is the rate of killings, destructions of villages and families, burning, maiming, kidnapping without sufficient condemnation from official quarters and religious leaders.

Before the victory of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and PDP in Imo State, we the indigenes and members of PDP in particular have been searching for solutions and alternatives to the bad governance of past administration of APC. Among all the contestants, we found Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of PDP qualified to handle the ruined state. We also, realized that there will be a huge task ahead to take away power from a man who believed that the mantle belongs to him and his family. We now decided on a house-to-house campaign, mostly in Ideato North to unsit APC in Imo State. All the leaders of PDP in Ideato North LGA, including my humble self volunteered to be the polling booth agents to make sure that the results were not tampered with and for a free and fair election for every polling booth. Despite all odds, we succeeded in protecting the votes and results from being altered and Governor Emeka Ihedioha rightly won the election.

He had this to say about the, “Revolution Now” activists:
“Revolution now” is an ideology propounded by a group headed by Sowore, who was supported by different interests. I see it as a wake-up call on the government to sit up. I however feel there is another way to channel that ideology to have more positive effects on the society. The ideology should be enforced at different arms of leadership, the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature.

You cannot attempt to change Nigeria from up down and succeed. If you try that, two things will happen, either you go left or you will be corrupted by the system.
My own approach is that, they should start from the legislators in various constituencies. All constituencies should investigate how their constituency allowances are being used. If not properly used or not even used at all, revolution now starts from that point. Those up will be hearing the message from those down, while the governors would hear that people are revolting . You will now see that the Presidency will adjust itself to satisfy the yearnings of Nigerians.

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