By Jonathan Asikason
Palpable tension has enveloped Igbariam in Anambra East local government area of Anambra state as indigenes of the community are demanding the removal of their traditional ruler, Igwe Nkeli-Nzekwe Kelly and the president general (PG) Mr Ikechukwu Orizu.
Protesters from the community, on Monday, stormed the Anambra state Government House at Agu-Awka, Awka, calling for the immediate dethronement of the Igwe. The protesters, numbering over 50 were armed with placards of various inscriptions such as: “Remove Kelly” “Conduct PG Election” “Igwe Kelly sold over 300 plots of land opposite Lynden belonging to government” “Gov. Obiano should run to our aid” “Your Excellency, please remove Igwe Kelly, conduct PG election and install new vigilante group” etc.
The embattled monarch who was amongst the 13 traditional rulers recently suspended by the state government for an unauthorised trip outside the state was accused of high-handedness and sale of community land.
According to the leader of the protest, Benjamin Okeke, “The people of Igbariam have been subjected to the despotic reign of Igwe Kelly and that of the PG he imposed on us. We have a constitution that stipulates how elections of PG is conducted but he subverted it and imposed Mr Orizu on us. Igwe Kelly didn’t stop at that. He reorganised our vigilante group and now uses them to terrorise the community.”
Corroborating the above position, Pastor Paul Okagbuo observed: “We can’t sleep with our two eyes open these days! Every night is shooting galore. The boys of Igwe Kelly have been terrorising us. If you talk, they will descend on you. My brother, it’s terrible. This is why we are begging Gov Obiano to intervene.”
Okeke, who seemed to be one of the organisers of the protest, submitted: “Igwe Kelly has bragged that nobody can remove him. So, he has continued to rule us with iron fist despite being suspended by the state government.”
Another protester, who simply wants to be identified as Ifeoma, declaimed how Igwe Kelly, alongside the PG, had been benefiting from their community’s commonwealth to the detriment of the Igbariam people.
“If you go to the Old Igbariam Farm Settlement, you will be surprised how the place is today,” Ifeoma added.
Apart from the demand for the immediate removal of Igwe Kelly and the PG, the protesters also demanded the sacking of the town’s youth leader whom they said acquiesced to their Igwe’s whims and caprices.
Receiving the protesters on behalf of the governor, the commissionerf for local government, Greg Obi, represented by Henry Nwasike, thanked the protesters for their peaceful conduct in the protest. “We have heard your plea and I want to assure you that the commissioner on return, will table your protest letter to our governor. We have your constitution and we must follow it. You don’t need to bother about case of imposition. If our governor can suspend the Igwe of his own town to ensure peace, yours won’t be a problem,” he added.