By Chuks Eke
it was a morale booster for the people of the Umuchukwu community in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra
state as they got a reassuring voice from Governor Chukwuma Soludo recently when they took their ‘give-our-Igwe-elect-certificate peaceful protest to the Government House in Awka.
Soludo’s representative and Chief of Staff, Ernest Ezeajughi who received the peaceful protesters on arrival at the Government House with their placards, commended them for towing the part of peace in their method of approach to the issue and pledged to extend their complaint to the commissioners of appropriate government ministries for proper intervention.
Ezeajughi maintained that the present administration along with its policies would ensure a livable and prosperous homeland in the state even as he urged them to adopt the idea of civic responsibility to move the state forward.
The demonstrators, numbering over 1,500 stormed the Government House with a passionate appeal to Governor Chukwuma Soludo to issue a certificate of recognition to their Igwe-elect, Barrister Kenneth Maduka without further delay.
They also informed the government that they changed the name of their community from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu many years ago, based on a consensus arrangement, adding that some few disgruntled elements in the community who are still answering the old Nkerehi name are merely taking them back to the dark ages.
During the exercise, the demonstrators displayed some placards in front of the Government House gate with inscriptions such as: “Enough is enough”, “There is no town called Nkerehi”, “We need government intervention”, “We need the government to give our Igwe-elect, Barrister Kenneth Maduka his certificate of recognition” among others.
One of the elders in the community from Umuana village, Chief Emmanuel Otaokpukpu who explained their mission to Ezeajughi, lamented that the level of the conspiracy being exhibited by a few families in the community who are still identifying themselves as people of Nkerehi, instead of people of Umuchukwu, having changed its name many years ago, with the consent of all its sons and daughters, has become too inexplicable that their antics are becoming unbearable in the area, hence their decision to embark on this peaceful protest.
Otaokpukpu further lamented that even as a proper election was conducted with the due process followed in line with state government approval before and after the adoption of Umuchukwu as the new name of the community, these disgruntled few families are still going ahead to destabilize the people and at the same time giving the government a wrong impression that all is not well in Umuchukwu.
He however noted that regardless of the conspiracy, all benefits accruing from the state government to the community are being shared with equal rights.
He, therefore, urged the incumbent Governor Soludo’s government to look into their complaints in the area of chieftaincy stool in the area and give a certificate of recognition to their Igwe-elect, Kenneth Maduka who he said the community duly elected as their traditional ruler since December 28, 2019, after the death of their former monarch, late Igwe Micheal Ukaegbu.
He recalled that Barr. Maduka had during the Igweship election, defeated his rival, Emmanuel Emeka Onwusoronye by a margin and as such should be recognized by the state government with a Chieftaincy certificate and staff of office without further delay.
In his words, “These troublesome families are people who Dr. Godwin Maduka, a prominent son of Umuchukwu and American based physician helped in so many ways, having built houses for them, given them a huge amount of money for their businesses to become great in life among other community developmental contributions he made in Umuchukwu and beyond today”.
“We demanded referendum and election while those people go about to cause hatred and plotting evil in the town due to their rate of greediness”.
“I personally moved the motion for the adoption of the name Umuchukwu supported by Rufus Ugwa and after the election, as directed by the government, those that stood for Umuchukwu won while those for Nkerehi lost”.
“Out of conspiracy, they hired assassins from some Anambra communities and threaten us on the night of August 29, 2009, which led to fighting and damage of things and also the killing of two boys the same day, one from Ogidi and the other from Umuchukwu”.
In spite of these ugly developments, Dr. Godwin Maduka still gave scholarships to every child in our schools and demanded that parents should neither pay a dime as school fees nor buy school uniforms or writing materials”.
“We do not want violence and we are begging the government to ignore anybody that has bad intentions towards our community. They go on to execute their wicked plans after reaching out to the government and police officers, saying that they have been recognised by the Anambra State government. We are peace-loving people and we are not denying them anything but they often take their children to the neighboring town, Owerri Ezukala for schooling and even Sundays worship”.
In their separate speeches, the secretary to the former Igwe’s cabinet, Chief Godwin Onyeaso (Chukwunemeze of Umuchukwu); Chief Solomon Ukaegbu, and former Chairman of the cabinet, Chief Felix Okafor:
Chairlady of Indigenous Daughters of Umuchukwu (Umuada), Theresa Nnebe from Umueze village and Mrs. Ndidi Eze from Umuana; former treasurer of the community, David Okoli, and the President-General of Umuchukwu, Mr. Emeka Adinchezo noted that the aim of the protest was to seek for government attention to harmonize the community and to disregard anybody who has the plan to cause havoc among the peacemakers.
They disclosed that the women folk have even carried out fasting and prayers in the community to seek peace, adding that the community’s name was changed during the regime of former governor Peter Obi who presented the gazette to the community and was confirmed authentic document by the state House of Assembly.
“There are groups of people who always form propaganda in our community. They are our brothers but we are pleading with the government to ignore them whenever they appeared. We will welcome them once they come back to join us. They have been warned earlier by the House of Assembly to suspend their evil actions including the former Commissioner of Police who reminded them that both Appeal Court, High Court, and Magistrate Court regard the community as Umuchukwu”
“They were invited for the undertaking. Some of them complied while others fled which implies that they know the consequences of their actions”.
They presented copies of the term paper of Umuchukwu to the government representative comprising copies for the Governor, Commissioner for Local Government, and Chieftaincy Matters; as well as Chief of Staff respectively.
Some members of the indigenes present during the protest included Chief Anayo Ibe from Isiama village, Mrs. Christina Ukaegbu from Isiama, Oluchi Mbama from Umuana, Oluchukwu Obiefuna, and Kosarachi Otah among others.