Enugu State’s Commissioner for Chieftaincy, Hon. Okey Ogbodo, stands accused of issuing a certificate of return to a contender for the traditional rulership of Obuno Autonomous Community in Nkanu West Local Government area, disregarding both the ongoing court litigations and the absence of a legitimate election process.
Prince Okwi Agbo, a rival contestant, voiced his concerns in an interview with News Center Nigeria, asserting that Commissioner Ogbodo could not have been unaware of the pending court case while granting a certificate of return to his competitor, Mr. Jack Nwatu.
Agbo shed light on the origins of the dispute over who should assume the role of the traditional ruler in Obuno-Akpugo Community. The conflict arose when 12 out of 30 kindreds within the autonomous community enacted a divisive constitution that labeled some individuals as strangers, Osu, or unfit to rule the community. This contentious constitution led to a legal battle, challenging the community’s constitution in court and calling for the establishment of a more inclusive constitution.
Agbo questioned, “How can Commissioner for Chieftaincy, Hon. Okey Ogbodo, issue a certificate of return without conducting an election or conducting a proper review of the process that designates the two main contenders as Igwe Elect?” He explained that they began adopting the title ‘Igwe Elect’ because various kindreds conducted separate elections and presented them as candidates for the general election. However, the general election has yet to occur since 2016, and Mr. Nwatu has been seeking recognition as the traditional ruler without a proper election process.
Agbo also recounted that during Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s tenure, Mr. Nwatu requested a certificate of return, but they protested, emphasizing the pending court case. The Governor wisely halted the issuance of any certificate and urged both parties to resolve their differences concerning the community’s constitution. Unfortunately, no progress has been made since then.
Agbo questioned the Commissioner’s authority to issue a certificate of return based on a community constitution that had led to divisions, even when part of the community had been designated as a separate autonomous entity. He wondered, “Upon which community constitution is the Commissioner for Chieftaincy Matters issuing a certificate of return? Is he endorsing the divisive constitution that marginalized a part of the community as outcasts?”
Prince Okwi Agbo urged his fellow community members to remain calm while seeking legal remedies and peaceful resolutions. He also called on Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mba to intervene and prevent any attempts to impose a traditional ruler in any part of Enugu State without adhering to the rule of law or potentially alienating individuals or communities.
It is worth noting that, as of the time of this report, all attempts to reach Enugu State Commissioner for Chieftaincy Matters, Hon. Okey Ogbodo, for comment proved unsuccessful, as he did not answer phone calls or respond to text messages.”