By Steve Unegbu
The Uhuokwu community is located closer to Ubaha community that is in Oriendu autonomous community of Umuahia South Local Government Area,Abia State and facts have been unearthed about the community and why Oriendu and Ekeoba autonomous communities are battling over the true ownership.
Recall that on the 4th of January,2024,Oriendu autonomous community led by the traditional ruler HRM Eze Pastor Ambassador Philip Ajomiwe celebrated the 2024 ‘Ekpe’ festival at the Oriendu market square.
In a similar vein, on the 12th of January,2024 precisely a week after,it was trending that security agents were stationed at Uhuokwu community to stop another “Igba Ekpe” festival scheduled to take place that day.
Our reporter who visited the Uhuokwu community that day to obtain first hand information of what actually led to the stationing of security agents and the drama that followed, gave details of what he observed.
It is worthy to note that the “Ekpe” festival at Uhuokwu went successfully, however the presence of about eight police vans full by Officers of the Nigerian Police Force was enough indication that something was fishing.
In attempt to ascertain the exact reason that attracted the presence of such number of Officers of the Nigerian Police force,the Newsmen visited the traditional ruler of Oriendu autonomous community,HRM Eze Pastor Ambassador Philip Ajomiwe, the Ndu 1 of Oriendu at his palace in Ubaha community.
Interacting with Newsmen at his palace,the traditional ruler of Oriendu autonomous community, Eze Ajomiwe,accused the traditional ruler of Ekeoba autonomous community,His Royal Kingship Eze Ambassador Iheanyichukwu Nwokenna, Oba The Great of Ekeoba kingdom of being behind the problem in his Community.
His words,” Eze Nwokenna is the major problem we are having in my kingdom. When I became the Eze in 2000 and he came to me initially wanted to be the Eze, our Elders said No that Ubaha is the first son and it is their right to produce the Eze.When he did not succeed,he started plotting against me and fueling crisis in my kingdom. He induced people, begged them, he would offer everything.He even promised to construct roads for them. He offers heaven and Earth. He is living in falsehood.
” Eze Iheanyichukwu Nwokenna has been doing everything including going everywhere to make sure that he get Uchenna Ogbonna who is from my kingdom.
” In 2005/2006, he became the traditional ruler of Ekeoba autonomous community he even went and forged his way, our community was gazetted in year 2000 and in 2006, he went and falsified it.
” Since,then he had been invited in several meeting,but he refused turning up for the meetings giving excuses that the matter is in court. Now he has succeeded in getting Uchenna Ogbonna”
Answering questions on the allegations of collecting money from few persons to change the actual day of Ekpe festival from 12 January, to 4 of January,2024, Eze Ajomiwe denied the allegation, accusing those Uchenna Ogbonna and Eze Nwokenna have brainwashed of blackmailing him “they are blackmailing my name. I am not the only person to change “Igba Ekpe”. It is the Elders and the Ekpe Union.
” If you find it to be true,let the Governor removes me as Eze ,but otherwise they will not go unpunished.
” It is those Uchenna Ogbonna has brainwashed because he gave them money. I do not take bribe. Eze Nwokenna and Uchenna Ogbonna are the major problem we have in my community. They are fueling crisis in my kingdom and giving the youths money to rebel against constituted authority. The date of celebration of Ekpe is a constitutional matter,which I can not change” he insisted.
Interacting with Newsmen at his palace in Ekeoba kingdom, Eze Nwokenna informed that ,” Uhuokwu is an integral part of Ekeoba autonomous community,which has been authenticated. My first Traditional Prime minister is from Uhuokwu,my President General is from Uhuokwu,the present Women Leader of my autonomous community is from Uhuokwu. It is just greed and selfishness that is disturbing Eze Ajomiwe.
” Eze Ajomiwe has closed his eyes from reality that an autonomous community has been caved out from Oriendu autonomous community. He should wake up from his slumber that Ekeoba has been carved out from Oriendu and if time is not taking another autonomous community will be carved out from Oriendu soon. If Uhuokwu wants autonomous community and government feels fit to do that,I am not standing on their way. I have nothing against that “
Reacting to the accusation of falsification of the gazette of the community, Eze Nwokenna,gave details of what transpired.
According to Oba the great of Ekeoba kingdom said,” It was from Ofeme that Oriendu autonomous community was carved out and Eze Ajomiwe was made the traditional ruler.
What made up Oriendu autonomous community were Umuogba block of villages, Uhuokwu block of villages,Ubaha block of villages,Uhula and Umuezemia block of villages.These four (4) blocks of villages made up the Oriendu autonomous community of old”
Continuing, he revealed that Ekeoba kingdom was carved out from Oriendu because titled chiefs from Umuogba and Uhuokwu decided to request for their own autonomous community as a result of some reasons.
” In 2003 / 2004, as a result of some reasons,the Titled Chiefs from Umuogba and Uhuokwu decided to request for their own autonomous community and Ekeoba autonomous community was carved out from Oriendu.
” Ekeoba autonomous community was created in 2005 and I was unanimously made the Eze.The block of villages that was used to create Ekeoba autonomous community were Umuogba block of villages and Uhuokwu block of villages. Ekeoba autonomous community can not be complete without Uhuokwu.
” In 2015, government gave gazette of all the autonomous communities in Abia State and the Gazette was signed by then Governor T.A. Orji.
“In that Gazette,there were mix -ups. The block of villages in Ekeoba autonomous community was mistakenly added to Oriendu autonomous community and the same thing was done in that of Oriendu autonomous community,the block of villages in Oriendu autonomous community was mistakenly added to Ekeoba autonomous community.
” I wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Local Government and chieftaincy Affairs in 2016,reporting the wrong placement of block of villages in my community Ekeoba and the government replied my letter by asking me to direct my letter to the Abia State House of Assembly and I wrote to Abia State House of Assembly complained officially. It was based on that letter that another Gazette came out in 2018 which was signed by the ex Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu on the 29th June 2018.In this new gazette,other autonomous communities were gazetted too and Uhuokwu remaining an integral part of Ekeoba autonomous community”
Meanwhile,High Chief Uchenna Patrick Ogbonna ( Pat -Urchman ) who HRM Eze Ajomiwe accused of brainwashing the youths to rebel against the authority of the kingdom of Oriendu autonomous community has denied doing that rather accused Eze Ajomiwe of being very autocratic instead of democratic when taking decisions that affect the entire Oriendu autonomous community.
Interacting with Newsmen in his home town Uhuokwu,he revealed that the people of Uhuokwu have rejected the traditional ruler HRM Eze Ajomiwe as their ruler and want Uhuokwu autonomous community because they have been intimidated alot.
He also denied participating in the Ekpe festival that was held at Uhuokwu on the 12th of January,2024 based on the directives of the Abia Commissioner of Police,but was later briefed that the festival was one of the best Ekpe in Oriendu autonomous community.
The Ohuhu Umuahia born business man disclosed that officially he is from Ekeoba autonomous community,but traditionally from Oriendu autonomous community,added that the bone of contention between the traditional ruler of Oriendu autonomous community and that of Ekeoba autonomous community is Uhuokwu and that they people of Uhuokwu want their own autonomous community.
” I had it went well, I was not deeply involved for some reasons.
” When I came back I put a call asking when is our Ekpe holding and I was told 12th of January,2024 and I asked the person is the traditional ruler aware and he said yes. So I have to schedule all my programmes to enable me participate,all of a sudden I heard some part of Oriendu said it is 4th of January and I asked,is the Eze aware and they said yes.
” I paid a visit to one of his closet palace High chiefs and said please plead with my Eze to let the will of the people be accepted,that majority of the people said it is 12th, please heed to them. I am traditionally in Oriendu but officially I am in Ekeoba now but I know tradition from from what my ancestors told me.
So, I pleaded with the man to beg Eze to please with all due ,let the will of the people fly, the man came back to me and explained that,he said absolute No for reasons I do not know.
” On the 4th, on my way coming back,I saw few families celebrating the Ekpe,then I took time to convince the people to let it go ,they said No.
” I am a man of Justice, when I pleaded with them and they refused,so I decided to join them for us to do what will make the people to be happy.
” I wrote to the Commissioner of police demanding for his approval for police to ensure peace during the Ekpe festival and I waited for his approval but I got a letter from the Commissioner that he wants the Ekpe to be cancelled and I said fine.
” Based on the advice of the Commissioner of Police and as a law abiding citizen ,so I decided to back out.
” I did not fully participate and what I was hearing this morning that there was Ekpe yesterday and it was successful. I did not participate and I didn’t know about it. I did not come out. I wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police and said based on your refusal to allow the Ekpe festival,I did not participate”
“People went for justice,there was injustice from what I heard the date was changed for one person,that is the rumour. That one person said it should be changed and people said No.
“I had told Eze Ajomiwe that the best way to rule people is by being democratic not autocratic. He first fixed it on 12th later called them that he has changed it to 4th January”
Speaking on the way forward, Agu-Oriendu said,” The people said they do not want him any more. My people said they want Uhuokwu autonomous community that he has intimidated them a lot . We are going for Uhuokwu autonomous community” he concluded