…Says He Represents Town at Meetings of Igwes
Any controversy about the kingship of Nawfia, a community in Njikoka LGA of Anambra State, is in the imagination of that person, as there is only one traditional ruler. This is according to Chief Daniel Obelle, a former journalist, who says he remains the authentic monarch of the town.
Chief Obelle who spoke with Fides in his palace in Nawfia, Tuesday, said anyone recognizing Chief Chijioke Nwankwo as the traditional ruler of the community is making a big mistake. Report by Jude Atupulazi and Ikeugonna Eleke.
Obelle and Nwankwo have been at logger heads over who the authentic monarch of the community is, with each of them claiming to be the recognized monarch.
Last two weeks, there was controversy over who should conduct the new yam festival ritual of the community. Though Obelle held an elaborate ceremony for the festival, Nwankwo circulated notices, claiming that he had conducted the ceremony days back, urging all to desist from visiting Obelle’s palace.
But during an interview with Fides, Obelle brandished several documents to show his authenticity, while also fielding questions to clear grey areas.
He said: ‘First, let me tell you that the man who has a certificate is the recognized monarch of every community. The governor has said so. This is my certificate of recognition (brandishing it); let Chijioke Nwankwo show you his own.
‘We are in charge of the 10 villages of Nawfia; I’m the Igwe who the people elected. The certificate Chijioke parades is fake and we found out it was forged and didn’t have any seal of government. He was advised to stop showing it around or he could be jailed.’
He stated that Nwankwo was never elected as a monarch in the community but was only installed as a regent after the death of his father, Igwe FFBC Nwankwo, in the early 2000s.
‘Even Chijioke himself knows that he was only a regent, which means he has no certificate. He said it himself that when his father died, the cabinet agreed that he should take over the regency.
‘Now, is regency the same thing as igweship? There is also nowhere that it is stated that regency should go to the son of the last monarch; but because of the circumstances of the death of his father, he was given the regency and History will never know him as Igwe.
‘The Monarchy of Nawfia rotates between Ezi and Ifite, which are the two quarters in Nawfia. His father who was the Igwe is from Ezi, and now I’m from Ifite.’
Obelle said that besides the rotation of the monarchy, there were some constitutional requirements which one must meet before being elected a monarch.
‘Our constitution says you must be married before you can be elected as Igwe and you must have at least a diploma certificate,’ he said, stating that his opponent was not married, despite having been parading himself for about 20 years now as Igwe, while also not having a certificate of recognition by the government as such.
‘Anyone who recognizes him as Igwe will be infringing the law,’ Obelle insisted.
Speaking on the authenticity of his Igweship, Obelle continued, ‘I’m the one who attends meetings of monarchs in the state. I’m the one who receives salary and I’m the one who gets invited to functions,’ he said, asking anyone in doubt to find out if any other person from the town was accorded such privileges.
‘This town has been in peace for once since I was elected as Igwe. I’m not quarrelling with my PG (President General). We have a harmonious working relationship and have been synergizing to bring development to Nawfia,’ he elaborated, asking anyone to find out if the other person had anyone working with him.
‘Are the men with him? Are the women with him? Are the youths working with him? The answer is no. So, who are the people with him as the Igwe of Nawfia?
‘But all these people I mentioned are with me, and we are working as brothers and sisters. Recognition is earned and not given. I’m the recognized Igwe in this community, and I’m elected by this community. We have reported this matter to the security agencies.’
Fides had last week reported that the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Hon Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, had stated that both Obelle and Nwankwo were not recognized by the Soludo Administration.
But in reply to this, Obelle said: ‘The Commissioner is very reckless for saying that Nawfia has no monarch.
‘I have Court of Appeal pronouncement on this matter. He should obey the law, he cannot be working at cross purposes with the Anambra State Government that he is serving. I am working for Anambra State Government as a monarch, and I’m being paid salary by the state government.
‘I will tell you that he is being reckless with words. One of our sons, Glamour, Chinedu Nwoye, is a major stakeholder here in this palace, and he backs us as the monarch of this community. It is because we are playing the dove; that is why Chijioke can still be parading himself (as the monarch).
‘After one year that Chijioke has been removed, we are still talking about this. The Commissioner is trying to defend Chijioke because he is his friend, but that is against the rule. Government has searched everything and has said there is no certificate in the name of Chijioke.
‘There is an Appeal Court decision on this between me and them of September 2022. In that judgement, the High Court judgement which Chijioke procured, which he is relying on to claim to be the Igwe, was very graciously set aside by the Appeal Court.
‘They set aside the ruling of the High Court and that is what he is standing on to cause anarchy in his home town. And I dare say that Chijioke is an anarchist and anyone supporting him is an anarchist.
‘Anyone, including the Commissioner, who is supporting Chijioke Nwankwo is being reckless.
‘Chijioke was also removed by an Neni Court presided over by Justice Onyinye Adimonye. He was the plaintiff. He sued Nawfia Progressive Union for holding Nawfia Day Celebration without his consent. But when he was asked by the court to bring his certificate, he could not, and the court pronounced that he was not an Igwe.
‘This happened even before he was suspended by Obiano’s Government for joining other Igwes to Abuja to see Buhari without the consent of the governor as the law stipulates,’ Obelle said.
Meanwhile, other indigenes of the community have attested to the authenticity of Obelle’s Igweship.
Chief Uche Aghamba, the Chief of Staff to the cabinet of Obelle, said, ‘If it was not for the seamless process of the election of this Igwe, Nawfia would have been in turmoil by now.
‘Chijioke was only left for 20 years as the regent because of the diplomacy that we have been using. We cannot resort to self-help; we are mature people.
‘That is why we have not had the kind of problem you see in other communities. We have the certificate of recognition from government. Go and ask Chijioke to show you his certificate.
‘This community is the most peaceful in Anambra and that is because the Igwe and the PG have harmonious working relationship.’
Editor’s note: since references have been copiously made to some other parties in this matter, efforts will be made in the coming days to get their side of the story.