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General News of Monday, 28 August 2023


Anambra government cancels New Yam festival in community over chieftaincy tussle

Anambra Governor, Chukwuma Soludo Anambra Governor, Chukwuma Soludo

The protracted chieftaincy dispute in Alor, Idemili South local government area of Anambra State, the home town of the immediate past Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has taken a new twist, with Governor Chukwuma Soludo canceling this year’s New Yam festival in the community in obedience to a High Court judgement.

The court had dethroned Igwe Mac-Anthony Okonkwo and following the development, the President General of the community, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa, petitioned the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to stop the planned celebration by Okonkwo.

Igbonwa had argued that allowing the dethroned Monarch to celebrate the New Yam festival might result to the breakdown of law and order in the area.

He accompanied the petition with the judgment of the High Court of Anambra State, Ogidi Judicial Division, which was delivered in February, 2022, which restrained Mac-Anthony Okonkwo from parading himself as the Igwe of Alor, or performing any function in the name of the community.

Responding to the petition, the state Ministry of Justice, in a letter signed by T. C Ikenna, Esq on behalf of the Attorney General and commissioner for Justice, said the court order must be obeyed to avoid breakdown of law and order in Anambra State.

The document dated August 22,2023 read in part: “I am directed by the honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Anambra State, to inform you that after considering content of your petition and stated judgement in suit HiD/354/2019, between Mr Frank Nwabufo Okoye and ORS Vs Incorporated trustees of Alor People’s Assembly and ANORs;

“Having been satisfied that the judgment and orders delivered in the above-mentioned suit in paragraph 1.1. are the extant and subsisting orders of the court between the parties and on the same subject matter, until the contrary is established, Mr.Mac-Anthony Chinedu Okonkwo should not conduct or superintend over the New Yam festival scheduled on Saturday, in the purported capacity of traditional ruler of Alor Town.

“It is unlawful and against the public peace of the town and therefore, he is restrained from doing so to avoid total breakdown of law and order in the community.

“It is the opinion of the Hon. Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice that since the motion for stay of execution had been dismissed, he should not parade himself as the Igwe of Alor, or perform any function in the name of Igwe of Alor until the High Court Judgment is over ruled by the appellant court.

“In the interim, he is not the the Igwe of Alor.”

The leadership crisis in the community had culminated in the formation of two parallel town unions and two traditional rulers.

However, when the deposed monarch sued a section of the community claiming that he was duly selected as the traditional ruler, the other group led by Igbonwa counter sued, arguing that Okonkwo was never elected or selected according to the constitution of the community.

The group insisted that Alor customs, tradition and the constitution, were not followed and that the certificate of recognition issued to Okonkwo by the state government was illegal and unconstitutional.

Following the Court judgement of February 22, 2022, restraining Okonkwo from parading himself as the traditional ruler, the community led by Igbonwa installed Dr Ebelechukwu Chukwumesili, as Ezedioramma 111 of Alor on November 3rd, 2022.

However, the former monarch, Mac-Anthony, appealed the judgment, which is still pending.

But because the High Court judgement had not been vacated, the state government stopped this year’s celebration of New Yam festival by Okonkwo.

Igbonwa has already commended Governor Soludo for the action, adding that the mounting tension in the community has reduced considerably.