From the story Umuaka Times published last week which made an interesting reading, the newspaper has considered it worthy to publish the follow-up to the story. The story which has to do with determining who is the authentic president-general of Umuaka as presently constituted today, has sent some legal shockwaves among prominent Akalites from certain quarters in the state. The contest is between Chief Maxwell Kelechi Ezike, the president-general of the community who was elected by his people and Hon Kizito Duru, the president- general of the community who was appointed by the chairman Njaba Local Government as an interim PG.
So far, each of the two gentlemen has his team of followers and loyalists, admirers and advisers. Some of them who spoke with Umuaka Times made valuable presentations either from the eyes of the law or from the eyes of Nigerian politics where anything is possible. Mr Lion Agwumezie, author, pro-democracy activist and an American based attorney, while addressing Umuaka Times on the subject, asked, “Has kelechi’s time expired? If not expired, there is no way Duru can be interim pg by any appointment.”
Miss Ifeoma Ihesie, an Owerri based legal practitioner and activist described the whole scenario as illegal. “This is pure illegality. Iheanacho was appointed as transitional chairman. He was not even elected in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The question to be asked is whether he has any legal rights to appoint a PG for any community. What are the duties of local government chairman? Even a constitutionally elected local government chairman does not possess the power to appoint a PG for a community, let alone Umuaka. Umuaka has a legally elected president-general whose tenure is still subsisting, appointing a new one is a legal aberration.”
Before Ihesie concluded her take on the issue, she gave a legal advice to the whole episode.
” Assuming without conceding that the transitional chairman has an existing legal rights of appointment, it should be to the extent of appointing a legal adviser or personal adviser or choosing his errand personnel not to appoint a president general of a whole community, it’s arrant nonsense.” Ihesie in her conclusion warned that the appointment is deliberately aimed at causing and igniting community crises.
Dr Albert Okunwa, another US based attorney also spoke on the burning issue.
“Coming to the question of who is the current PG of Umuaka “before the law,” the answer depends on who the law recognizes as the PG of an autonomous community. If the law accepts someone who is elected by the community, then I would say that Maxwell Ezike is the one because I was present in the meeting (at Hilltop Primary School) when he was elected. In fact, the position of PG was zoned to his village/kindred….Umuawaha Uba.”
In another dimension, Dr Okunwa went on to say, “However, if the PG is an “appointed” position by government, then Kizito is the current PG since he was recently appointed by the Chairman of Njaba LG. There is argument in some circles that the LG Chairman cannot/should not overrule the people’s choice. You know how things go in Nigeria…politics!”
Talking of how things go in Nigerian politics, where anything is possible, many in Umuaka (Uba) have given their support r to Kizito and advised Chief Ezike to give peace a chance. A Lagos based lawyer who spoke with Umuaka Times last week on the condition of anonymity, told Umuaka Times that politics is superior to law and as far as Hon Kizito is the appointed and anointed son of the powers that be in the state, the government would recognize him and accord him with all the respect and cooperation that the office requires.
Also last week, Umuaka Times spoke with an elder statesman in the community, who like the former speaker, did not want his name in print, advised Umuaka Times to call for a meeting with the two PGs privately and reach a compromise with them respectively towards bringing peace in the community. He appealed to other stake holders in the community to intervene on the issue before it gets out of hand.