For 6 years ago, when the former traditional ruler of Awka Etiti kingdom in Idemili South council area of Anambra state, HRM, Igwe Dr. Joachim Okwudilichukwu Ojukwu, joined his ancestors, kinship tussle had continued to rock the community as the late monarch’s first son, Prince Chuma Ojukwu, laid claim to the throne as his father’s successor. He was in court with the new monarch of the town, HRM, Igwe Engr Michael Ezeudenna Okadigbo; but recently withdrew the matter. In this interview with MOWUGWO SOLOMON, Prince Chuma Ojukwu, Agujiugo and Ezeudo II, as he is fondly called, discusses why he withdrew, among other issues.
Recently, you made a move to mend ways with your people, the people of Awka Etiti, by withdrawing a court case you instituted against the traditional ruler of the town. What informed your decision?
I decided to withdraw the court suit I instituted against the traditional ruler of Awka Etiti kingdom, HRM, Igwe Engr Michael Ezeudenna Okadigbo. My intention is to bring peace to my community. I would not continue to lay claims to throne of my father as former traditional ruler of my community, while a lot of things go wrong. Whether I am right or not; my utmost wish is to initiate this peace so that my community will be happy. Awka Etiti people occupy very important space in my life. I want everybody to come together, so that we can build a peaceful and prosperous community.
When your father, the former monarch of your community, Igwe Joachim Ojukwu, joined his ancestors, you insisted that you would succeed him on the throne. Why did you make that initial move?
I never insisted that I would succeed my father on the throne; it was my right to succeed him. I laid claim to the throne as successor of my father, Ezeudo I of Awka Etiti, in line with the 1999 Constitution/ By-Law of Awka Etiti kingdom. The 1999 By-Law/Constitution of my town stipulates that the crown prince, who is the first son of the monarch, will succeed him, whenever the king joins his ancestors. So, as the first son and crown prince, it is my right to succeed my father on the throne.
The 1999 Constitution of Awka Etiti stipulates that there shall be a crown prince from Isimba (Nkolofia) where I belong. Since my father was the traditional ruler then, being the first son of my father, I am the crown prince; meaning that as a crown prince, it is my right to take over from him; since I am up to 35 years of age, as demanded by the Constitution of the town.
Why did your people decided to go for a different person as their monarch?
It was in 2004 that some groups in the community produced a document, which they called Constitution of Awka Etiti Kingdom. In that document, they said that kinship of Awka Etiti should be rotational among the seven villages in the town. That document they called constitution of Awka Etiti was not even signed by the appropriate authorities to give it legal backing. It was based on that document that they went on to choose another person as traditional ruler.
How did your community receive the message of peace you brought?
The entire Awka Etiti community received the move with happiness and approval; because, they are aware that where there is peace, there will be progress and security. The community even went ahead to publicise it on the social media, showing how they welcomed the initiative. Few days ago, when I logged unto the Awka Etiti link, a media forum for Awka Etiti people, I found out that over 300,000 indigenes of the town based at home and those in Diaspora, were expressing approval and happiness. They were commending me for withdrawing the court case and subsequently initiating peace. They were saying that, based on my courage in initiating peace, I deserved a position bigger than that of Igwe; if there is any.
What setbacks do you think your community experienced in the past as a result of the prolonged chieftaincy tussle?
Well, it is obvious that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Any community that has no peace, there can never be development. There were crisis here and there; but I thank God that no life was lost in this particular tussle that has to do with me.
Within the period you posed as traditional ruler of your community, could you recall the sad and joyous moments you experienced?
I had so many joyous moments. Based on the popularity I was enjoying and respect I was commanding among my people, if there were to be election between me and our present Igwe, I believe I would have floored him. Our present traditional ruler is a good man; but I am younger and more energetic. Within that period, did you receive people coming to pay homage and bring gifts to you as traditional ruler?
I was the person giving gifts to my people, instead of collecting from them. That was what endeared me to them. When my father commemorated his last ofala festival, the townspeople levied themselves for the purchase of buying uniform and the festival; but I told them that I was going to offset the bill. So, instead of telling people to bring money, I brought money for the festival. Apart from buying uniform for the festival, I also gave money to some people to sew their own uniforms. So, I was never interested in gifts and paying of homage. My interest was to do things the right way.
What sad moments did you encounter along the line?
Chieftaincy tussle comes with sad events, among other things. A lot of people were against me made several efforts to frustrate my moves and to make life miserable for me. A lot of people from among my supporters also encountered frustrations and intimidation within the community. But, throughout the period, there were no cases of people dying or sustaining injuries.
Now that the peace move is made, what is your call to Awka Etiti community and the traditional ruler?
My advice is that all of us – the Awka Etiti people, including the traditional ruler, should join forces with me to make sure that the peace move lasts. I also want to advise other communities experiencing similar crisis, to copy my example, and sheath their swords for the sake of peace and development. For our traditional ruler, we shall make out time to meet and discuss how we can join forces to move our community forward. Reconciliation is what I want. I do not want my people to lose their happiness forever. My desire to become the Obi or Igwe of Awka Etiti has ceased to be. I will no longer prefix my name with Igweship title of His Royal Majesty or Igwe Agujiugo; and I want all my supporters to, henceforth, address me as Prince Agujiugo or Peince Ezeudo II of Awka Etiti kingdom. From today, I am recognising HRM Igwe Engr Michael Ezeudenna Okadigbo, (the Obi of Awka Etiti kingdom), as my true king and traditional ruler.