Amidst escalating tension, the Coalition of Civil Society in Enugu State held a press conference on Monday, November 4th, 2023 shedding light on what they allege to be a severe abuse of power by Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs, Deacon Okay Ogbodo.
The coalition specifically focused on the commissioner’s alleged unilateral imposition of a traditional ruler in Obuno Uno Akpugo Nkanu East Local Government area, sidestepping the democratic process and sparking concerns of communal unrest.
Key Points from the Coalition’s Press Conference:
- Discrimination and Unjust Certificate of Return: The coalition strongly condemned Commissioner Ogbodo’s actions as discriminatory, expressing concern that it could breed discord and disrupt peace in the region. They accused him of fraudulently awarding a certificate of return for the Igweship stool of Obuno Uno Akpugo to Mr. Jack Nwatu without any election, a move they perceive as a blatant violation of established procedures.
- Contempt for Legal Proceedings: The coalition highlighted Commissioner Ogbodo’s apparent disregard for ongoing legal proceedings on the matter, citing suits such as E/132/2019, E/30M/2020, and HAG 13/2022. They argued that the commissioner, in defiance of due process, ignored progress made and agreements reached by all aspirants, including the presentation of aspirants to the local government.
- Demand for Democratic Election: Taking a firm stance for democratic principles, the coalition demanded a transparent and democratic election for the Igwe of Obuno Uno, proposing the use of Option A4 or any other method in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They called on various organizations and individuals, including CAN, Enugu Leaders of thought, Labor Union, International Organizations, Human Rights Groups, and people of goodwill, to unite in restoring justice and dignity in Enugu state.
- Urgent One-Week Ultimatum for Suspension: The coalition issued a stern one-week ultimatum for the immediate suspension of Commissioner Ogbodo, citing perceived corruption, abuse of office, and the fanning of crises in communities. They also demanded his immediate arrest by security agencies, underlining the urgency of addressing the alleged infractions.
- Immediate Withdrawal of Certificate of Return: Stressing the need for corrective action, the coalition demanded the immediate withdrawal of the certificate of return issued by Commissioner Ogbodo, emphasizing the importance of reverting to established rules and procedures governing traditional rulers’ elections.
- ALGON Ban and Caution Against Dubious Intentions: The coalition urged the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Enugu state, to ban Commissioner Ogbodo from ongoing local government tours, alleging that he has used these platforms to instigate crises instead of resolving disputes, casting doubt on his intentions.
- Governor’s Intervention with a Panel of Inquiry: The coalition appealed to Governor Peter Mba to swiftly constitute a panel of inquiry. They suggested a diverse composition, including civil society representatives, labor union members, government officials, and individuals of integrity, with a Catholic Priest as chair and an Anglican Priest as secretary, to thoroughly investigate the claims against Commissioner Ogbodo.
In his closing remarks, Comrade Onyebuchi Igboke, leader of the Coalition of Civil Society in Enugu State, expressed gratitude to the press for their attendance and urged prompt action to rectify the alleged infractions and restore justice in the state.