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Tension in Awka over leadership tussle

By Pamela Eboh, Awka on 25/10/2016

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Uncertainty has taken over Awka community in Anambra State following the emergence of new executive members to pilot the affairs of Awka Development Union, as the two opposing camps disagree on the new leadership.

The issue as at press time was already getting to the boiling point hence, the police was alerted to ensure that peace reigned.
The caretaker committee for Awka announced the election of a 19-member executive with Chief Amobi Nwokafor as the new President General (PG) but the incumbent PG, Chief Tony Okechukwu, insisted yesterday that the election did not take place.
However, the group that produced Chief Nwokafor as the new PG had, at a ceremony that took security operatives unawares announced the election of members of the new executive that included Mr. Alexander Nwankwo (Deputy President General), Mr. Obie Onyedika (Secretary General), Mr. Ifeanyi Onyeka (Treasurer), Dr. Collins Ejikeme (Financial Secretary), Mr. Philip Ekwempu (Legal Adviser), among others.
Though security operatives and the government officials had tried to stop the election, members of the caretaker committee outsmarted them and conducted the exercise in a remote area of the Anambra State capital at night.
Addressing journalists in Awka yesterday, the embattled PG, Chief Tony Okechukwu, whose first tenure ended in March, 2015, said: “The truth of the matter was that there was no election in Awka. The appeal I instituted against the Nwokafor group is still pending at the Court of Appeal.
“There was no election anywhere in Awka and these people were only out to cause confusion. It is also not true that delegates from all the villages in Awka were present during the so-called election.
“For the election to take place there should be about 250 delegates, but at their gathering in a private house, only about 30 people who have consistently been fomenting trouble in the town were present. Besides, the election guideline stipulates that government officials and security operatives must be present and the venue must be an approved square or in a hotel, but their gathering was in a private house at night.
“Also, following court proceedings on the matter, Awka General Assembly decided that the election should be put on hold until all the court cases were disposed of. So, anybody parading himself as the PG is merely impersonating because I remain the PG of Awka.
“I urge security operatives to wade into this matter of illegal assembly because the people concerned are threatening the peace in Awka. There is no way the election can take place without the involvement of the state government, security operatives and the delegates from the 33 villages in Awka.
“I am also entitled to a second tenure as provided in the constitution of Awka and I am prepared to stand for the election after the court cases are disposed of.”
But the claimant to the post of the new PG told Journalists that his priority would be to ensure that peace returned to the town without delay following the bad blood the leadership tussle has generated in the town in the past 18 months.
He extended hand of fellowship to the opposition group urging them to join hands with the new leadership to move Awka forward.
Nwokafo also pledged allegiance to the Anambra State Government, assuring that Awka people were prepared to support Governor Obiano in his quest to deliver dividends of democracy to Anambra people.
He said: “I don’t have any problem with the state government and I will work cordially with the governor, especially as both of us are professional colleagues.”
It was gathered that the first tenure of the incumbent PG, Okechukwu expired on March 17, 2015, but the state government advised the community to shift the election because of the 2015 general elections but after the general elections, some titled men in the area tried to force Okechukwu out of office, but the state government said the PG should remain in office and conduct the election to ensure a smooth transition.
There was also a letter signed by the Special Adviser to the Anambra State Governor on Chieftaincy and Town Union Matters, directing that the town union election should be put on hold indefinitely and further directed that Okechukwu should continue in office until the election was conducted.
As a result of the development, some Awka indigenes went to court and the court ruled that the election should be conducted within 90 days. Okechukwu on his part appealed the ruling and the matter was still pending before weekend’s gathering that produced Nwokafor and his team.
Giving further insight into the matter, Secretary of Ozo Awka, a group of titled men in Awka, Dr. Aneze Chinwuba said Awka constitution did not provide for tenure elongation as Okechukwu tried to do, adding that he ceased to be the PG for Awka since March 17, 2015.
In his words, “Our constitution says that election of new PG must be conducted three months to the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent, but Okechukwu started talking about the election several months after Awka people had started complaining about his sit-tight attitude.
“He wanted an extension and was telling people that he needed more time to organise the election, which was why three different groups in Awka wrote the state government to object the suggestion for the extension.”
•Photo shows Governor Obiano.

Source News Express

Posted 25/10/2016 12:22:19 PM


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