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Posted by By NWABUEZE OKONKWO, Onitsha on 2008/01/24 | Views: 657 |


The police in Anambra State penultimate weekend aborted activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the Igu-Aro Cultural Festival of the Enugwu-Ukwu community in Njikoka Local Government area of the state.

…Death of traditional ruler leads to postponement of Igu-Aro festival in Enugwu-Ukwu

The police in Anambra State penultimate weekend aborted activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the Igu-Aro Cultural Festival of the Enugwu-Ukwu community in Njikoka Local Government area of the state.

The festival is usually performed by the traditional council of the community led by the reigning traditional ruler in conjunction with the town union executives as required by tradition and culture.

The ceremony, which also features the conferment of various chieftaincy titles on some notable Nigerians, was inherited by the traditional ruler of Enugwu-Ukwu and Umunri clan, His Royal Majesty (HRM), Igwe Osita Agwuna III, from his predecessors, which dates back to ages.

But this year's event scheduled for January 5 ran into a hitch following the alleged demise of the royal father, Osita Agwuna.
As the date of the ceremony approached, the eldest son of the royal father, Prince Emeka Agwuna, allegedly summoned members of the royal cabinet to a crucial meeting where he allegedly informed them that his late father had instructed him to take over the chieftaincy stool, including the performance of the annual 'Igu-Aro' cultural festival if anything happened to him.

According to an inside source, the statement did not go down well with the royal cabinet led by the traditional Prime Minister and second-in-command, Chief D. A. Nwandu (Oba Enugwu-Ukwu), who vehemently opposed the idea of late Igwe's son taking over the chieftaincy affairs from his dad.
According to them, for the community to commence the process of selecting a new royal father, the last Igwe must celebrate his last 'Igu-Aro' festival.

The royal cabinet, therefore, insisted that since it is not yet time for last 'Igu-Aro' as demanded by their tradition, it behoves the late Igwe's second-in-command, Oba Nwandu, to spearhead this year’s 50th cultural event and not the late Igwe's son.
Obviously, the situation created a division among the cabinet members as those loyal to the Igwe's son disagreed with those loyal to the Igwe's second-in-command.
At this point, both parties went on air simultaneously few days to the date of the ceremony, which is usually fixed for every first Saturday in January, and announced that the ceremony would take place as scheduled.

When eventually the Oba Nwandu-led group discovered that the Igwe's son might have an upper hand if the ceremony was allowed to hold as the tradition demands that the festival must take place at Igwe's palace until a new Igwe emerges, after the last Igwe must have performed his last 'Igu-Aro' festival, they went to the police and claimed that there could be blood shed if the ceremony is allowed to hold.
As a result, the police authorities deployed anti-riot policemen to the Igwe's palace as early as 7 a.m that fateful day to stop people from entering the palace.

The heavily armed policemen were seen sitting in front of the palace gate and preventing anyone from crossing the gate to go in or come out of the palace, let alone perform any ritual.
Efforts by Daily Sun to gain entrance into the palace to interview late Igwe's son or other family members, who were confined in-doors by the policemen, on the issue proved abortive.
But Oba Nwandu, who was ostensibly nervous confirmed to Daily Sun at his residence that the ceremony had been postponed, adding that the measure was the best that could happen at that point in time or else there could be a total break down of law and order.

Nwandu delegated a member of his prime minister's council, Chief Joel Chiaghana, to speak on his behalf, as he was said to be attending to some of his guests and and also awaiting the arrival of Second Republic Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, and some other prominent personalities coming from far and near who were not yet aware of the cancellation of the ceremony.

According to Chiaghana, "members of the Enugwu-Ukwu traditional cabinet are literate and law-abiding and that was why they decided to put off the ceremony till next year to avoid civil disturbances, since dignitaries are to participate and possibly be honoured with various chieftaincy titles in this 2008 'Igu-Aro' festival".

Chiaghana further stated that the outright cancellation of the event, with the aid of the police, was the best alternative because of an atmosphere which was not conducive to the staging of the royal event had been created in the area by those he identified as a group of undisciplined persons from Enugwu-Ukwu.
He said it was expected that by next year, all the troubled corners would have been tidied up to welcome their visitors and promote their rich cultural heritage as the leader of Umunri, the ancestral clan of Igboland.

"This year's 'Igu-Aro' is hereby postponed till next yeart to allow for conducive and befitting 'Igu-Aro' festival and more so, now that our Igwe has gone out of sight (not dead) because an Igwe does not die in Igboland but having discovered that Igwe's son is talking out of our constitution, we felt it is necessary to bring the state government into the matter because the government is inclined to have respect for the rule of law and order and we hope to tidy up all corners and entrench law and order", he stated.

According to the programme of the event that could not take place, about 25 distinguished personalities, including Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan; the Inspector-General of Police, Mike Okiro; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo, and Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Dora Akunyili, were selected for distinguished honorary awards by the royal cabinet.

Other personalities to be honoured are: Senator Liyel Imoke, Governor of Cross River State; Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, Governor of Kano State; Mrs. Ebele Okeke, Head of Service of the federation; Chief Simon Okeke, former chairman of Police Service Commission; Princess Ade Adeniran Ogunsanya, secretary to Lagos State Government; Dr. (Mrs.) Cecilia Ibru, managing director of Oceanic Bank Plc and Professor Mrs. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Dr. Chris Ngige and Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governors of Anambra and Lagos States; Professor Chinua Achebe, Mrs. Stella Okoli, Chief Executive of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited; Chief Paul Isintume, retired Commissioner of Police; Mr. Ben Egbuna, Director-General, FRCN among others, were equally slated for prestigious awards if the occasion had taken place.

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown