Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The kolanut war between the traditional ruler of Umueri kingdom, His Royal Majesty Igwe Ben Izuchukwu Emeka, and that of Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu, His Royal Highness Igwe Alex Edozieuno, both of Anambra-east local government area of Anambra state appears to have attained its climax as Umueri monarch launched another attack on his counterpart across the Omambala River.
This time, Igwe Emeka stated categorically that Umueri has no business with Igwe Alex Edozieuno and that his antagonist also has no business whatsoever with Umueri community. He said judging from his social standing as the traditional ruler of a full-fledged community, he has absolutely no reason to bandy words with a monarch of an autonomous community.
Igwe Emeka whose position was contained in a letter titled “Re-One Year Suspension of Umueri Traditional Ruler From The Meetings Of Anambra-East Traditional Rulers’ Council”, which was made available to journalists in the state, maintained that the traditional ruler of Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu was neck-deep in malevolent tendencies evident in the way and manner he ran the affairs of the traditional institution in Anambra-East as the helmsman. Umueri traditional ruler however admonished his colleague whom he described as an imperialist to desist from exporting restiveness to other communities but concentrate on administering his volatile Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu community as his subjects were peace-loving people who equally maintained healthy bilateral relations with other surrounding communities.
The kolanut tussle between the traditional rulers began when the chairman of the council of traditional rulers of Anambra-east who also doubles as Igwe Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu community attempted to usurp the traditional right of breaking of kolanut at an event which took place at Otuocha Township Stadium said to be the domain of Igwe Ben Emeka of Umueri kingdom. That episode culminated into a plethora of media reports where Umueri monarch was said to have been suspended from the gatherings of traditional rulers in Anambra-East by Igwe Alex Edozieuno. To Igwe Emeka, he was purportedly suspended for refusing to be intimidated and deprived of his ancestral right of performing kolanut ceremonies in his own land where he is the custodian of the culture, tradition as well as the ancestral heritage of his community. His resistance to what would have been tantamount to a royal public disgrace and embarrassment resulted in the dismissal which Umueri people have described as frivolous and laughable.
The letter read in part, “On your assertion that Igwe Benneth Emeka grabbed kolanuts from the hands of Chief Anthony Oli SSA to Governor Willie Obiano; we wish to state that we take serious exception to such insults to Igwe Emeka. Igwe Benneth Emeka has been a man of high level integrity and a gentleman per excellence. It is totally unacceptable to the traditional institution of Umueri that his person be debased in such untoward manner. Igwe Benneth Emeka only did the reasonable thing a man of integrity should do when supposedly wise but regrettably dubious traditional leaders set out to distort culture, tradition and history just to suit their dubious intents. One of the commonest traditional practices surrounding the breaking of kolanuts is the fact that it is the man of the house that breaks the kola nuts in his domain.”
It added, “That the government, church or other institution is in possession of a portion of land does not deprive the traditional owner his right to break kolanuts. We are convinced that this fact is very clear to you at least in your capacity as a traditional ruler but you chose to distort this age-long tradition for reasons you have started exhibiting in your letter. May we notify you that Igwe Benneth Emeka breached no known traditional or customary practice, rather it was you who maliciously usurped his position and supplanted another in his stead. We see your so-called suspension of Igwe Benneth Emeka as a sheer brazen daylight palace coup.”
To this end therefore, Umueri community through the letter informed Igwe Alex Edozieuno that the ban on Igwe Benneth Emeka was of no consequence since he does not possess the locus standi to suspend any traditional ruler. Moreso, on the age of Igwe Benneth Emeka on the traditional stool of Umueri kingdom, the letter revealed that “it is stunning that such shallow reasoning is coming from the hallowed quarters of the traditional ruler of Nkpunando Aguleri-Otu Igwe Alex Edozieuno. That the young age of the traditional ruler of Umueri does not translate to the loss of his rights as the monarch in his community.”
Igwe Edozieuno was also reminded that the property known as Anambra-East Local Government Secretariat was built upon the land which Umueri donated to the Anambra State Government stressing that Aguleri-Uno, Enugu-Aguleri, Eziagulu-Otu and Mkpunando-Otu were all villages in the town known to rest of Anambra and the rest of the world as Aguleri. That the fact that accessibility to government warranted cosmetic divisions for administrative purposes shall not be thwarted into a historical fact.
He said it was clear that there was only one Aguleri in 1972 and that only two towns Umueri, Aguleri and stranger elements were in existence when Otuocha Division was created. On the directives of Igwe Alex Edozieuno to Umueri people to overthrow their traditional ruler, the community said it found it laughable knowing full well that Umueri is populated by peace-loving people not easily incited by those described as unintelligent traditional rulers of suspicious standing like Igwe Alex Edozieuno.