Arts & Culture

Stop parading yourself as traditional ruler, Anambra Govt. warns dethroned Alor monarch

Anambra  state Government has warned the dethroned traditional ruler of Àlor community  in Idemili South  Local Government Area of the state, Mac-Anthony Chinedu ‘Elibe’ Okonkwo to desist forthwith  from further parading himself or performing functions as the traditional ruler of Alor community.

The warning was contained in a letter from the state Attorney-General/Commissioner for Justice, Sylvia Ifemeje to the dethroned monarch asking him to stop parading himself as traditional ruler of Alor town forthwith.

The Attorney-General’s letter came as a reply to a petition written to her office by a concerned citizens of Alor, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa requesting the state government to allow Alor  people  to enjoy peace like other communities in the state by stopping the court dethroned monarch, Okonkwo from further parading himself as the traditional ruler of Alor community.

Igbonwa who is also the immediate past President-General of Alor town union, in the petition, insisted that allowing Okonkwo to continue to parade himself as the traditional ruler of Alor community is in clear breach of the subsisting court judgement which dethroned him on  February 17, 2022, adding  that state government officials should desist from giving Okonkwo  undue support and recognition.

In the warning letter dated August 22, this year and  signed on her behalf by a senior staff of the ministry,  T. C. Ikenna Esq., the Attorney-General, insisted that Mac-Anthony Okonkwo continuing to parade himself as the traditional ruler of Alor, with subsisting judgement of Ogidi High Court No. 1 presided by the Administrative Judge of Idemili Judicial Division, Justice Pete Obiorah, which dethroned him in February, last year, will create a possible breach of public peace in the area.

The Attorney-General’s letter read in part: “I wish to inform you that after considering the content of your petition and stating court judgement and orders in Suit No. HID/354/2019; between Frank Nwabufo Okoye and others versus Incorporated Trustees of Alior Peoples Assembly and another, and having been satisfied that the judgement and orders delivered in the above mentioned suit in paragraph 1.1. above are the extant and subsisting orders of the court between the parties and on the same subject matter.

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The letter further directed that save, and until the contrary is established, Mr. Mac-Anthony Chinedu Okonkwo should not conduct or super intend over the new yam festival scheduled this year in the purported capacity of traditional ruler of Alor town is unlawful and against the public peace of the town and therefore restrained from doing so to avoid total breakdown of law and order in the community”.

“Finally, it is my opinion that since his motion for stay of execution had been dismissed, Okonkwo should not parade himself as the Igwe of Alor or perform any function in the name of Igwe of Alor until the High Court judgement is overruled by the appellant court. At the interim, he is not the Igwe of Alor. You are therefore by this letter sufficiently informed of the position, your cooperation in this regard is highly solicited”, the Attorney-General’s letter concluded.

This latest development from the state government has, however, elicited jubilations in the community as the state government has at last heeded to the High Court judgement that dethroned Okonkwo as the traditional ruler of Alor community.

Addressing a cross section of the community at the weekend, Igbonwa recalled that Okonkwo, the dethroned traditional ruler and two others had in December, 2019, dragged Alor town government then under his leadership to court, claiming that he was duly and properly selected as the traditional ruler of Alor community and requested an order of perpetual injunction against Alor town government from holding their lawful meetings and performing their legitimate duties.

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Filed as: Suit No: HID/354/2019, at the High Court of Anambra State, Ogidi Judicial Division but in response to Mac-Anthony Chinedu Okonkwo’s Suit, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa, and Alor town government counter-claimed that Okonkwo was just a product of  11-man illegal/court disbanded Caretaker Committee of Alor People’s Convention, and was not duly selected and enthroned as the traditional ruler of Alor by the people of Alor community; and that Alor customs, traditions and the constitution were not followed, and also, that the certificate of recognition by the State government was issued in

flagrant breach of the Traditional Rulers’ Laws of Anambra State.

Igbonwa further recalled that after several adjournments and subsequent trial, on February 17, 2022, the High Court of Anambra State, Ogidi Judicial Division, presided  by Justice Obiorah delivered its judgment on the matter, in which the Court made several Declarations and Orders, including – the judgment Order at pages 15 & 16, Paragraphs 14 – 16:

Paragraph 14 of the court judgement read as follows: “I I grant an order that the certificate of recognition issued to the 3rd Plaintiff, Okonkwo, by the Anambra State Government on the 23rd day of June, 2014 is in breach of the constitution of Alor Peoples Convention then in force and Anambra State Traditional Rulers Law 2007”.

He also quoted paragraph 15 of  the judgement as having read: “I grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd Plaintiff, Mac-Anthony Okonkwo, from further parading himself as the Igwe of Alor, carrying on any functions and/or duties of Igwe of Alor, occupying or using the palace of Obi Eze Agbudugbu (the original ancestral abode of Alor people) and generally from inter-meddling in the various customs and practices as well as administrative affairs of Alor town”.

” I grant an order directing  Igbonwa, the 2nd defendant/counter-claimant as the President-General of Alor Peoples Convention elected in compliance with the judgment in Suit No. A/14/2015 delivered on 5th February, 2019 in conjunction with the Regency Council of Alor to commence the process of filling the vacant stool of Igwe of Alor in accordance with the Constitution of Alor Peoples Convention 2011.”

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He said, following this judgment, Alor People’s Convention, in conjunction with the Regency Council of Alor went ahead to select and install Evang. Dr. Collins Ebelechukwu Chukwumesili as Ezediohamma 111 of Alor, in accordance with the the culture, tradition, and constitution of Alor as directed by the court; and the convention filed the report of compliance with the court judgement on February 22nd, 2022.

“Several months after Alor community had installed a new traditional ruler consistent with the court judgment, precisely, on November 3rd, 2022, Okonkwo, the court-dethroned monarch headed to the Court of Appeal and filed an Appeal against the High Court judgement. Okonkwo  also filed a Motion for Stay of Execution of the Court Judgment at the Ogidi High Court which the court subsequently declined to grant the Motion for Stay of Execution, thus dismissed the same, and the Court of Appeal has not ruled in his favour.

 The former President-General of Alor community argued that Anambra State High Court judgment that dethroned Mac-Anthony Chinedu ‘Elibe’ Okonkwo is subsisting and has to be respected and obeyed until a higher court vacates or set aside the judgement.

According to the former PG, Chief Igbonwa: “while Alor people recognizes Okonkwo’s right to appeal a court judgment, in the meantime, he must obey the subsisting judgment order of a court of competent jurisdiction and allow peace to thrive in Alor community, and because mere filing an appeal is neither a stay of execution nor a licence to disobey court judgment, which is likely to result in a breach of public peace and breakdown of law and order in Alor community. Also, there can not be two traditional rulers at the same time in one community.” 

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