*As Abounu provides roadmap for selection of royal fathers
By James Ibechi
In the wake of the selection of royal fathers across Tiv, Idoma and Igedeland in Benue State when trade of accusations has dogged every stage in the process, it is common to hear that one group has collected bribes and another one is hijacking or usurping the powers or the role of the others, for political reasons.
So, it sounds common or ordinary if just anyone accuses the Acting President General of Omi’Ny Igede, apex Igede socio-cultural organization, Ode Enyi, of collecting bribe to use the socio-cultural organization under his command to foist a first class chief on the Igede people.
But when such an accusation comes strongly from Ad’Oju the extant Igede traditional ruler, Chief Augustine Egbere Ogbu, a second class chief, it is significant and arouses the ears of everyone to the accusation, and more interest of the people to the process of the selection of the royal fathers.
Chief Ogbu did not merely accuse Ode Enyi of collecting bribes in the process of the selection of first class and other chiefs in the Igede Intermediate traditional council, but also vehemently labeled the tall and lanky Omi’Ny Igede acting boss with complete corruption.
He said that Ode Enyi is corrupt.
Chief Ogbu made the accusation in his reaction to the roadmap and general guidelines for the selection of third and first class chiefs in Igede kingdom which Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, made clear to the traditional chiefs and stakeholders from Igede at a meeting he hosted at the Old Banquet Hall of the People’s House in Makurdi on Tuesday.
Abounu in his opening remarks, said the meeting was called for him to narrow down to the Igede stakeholders the position of Governor Samuel Ortom and the content of the previous day meeting the governor had with the entire Idoma Traditional council on the selection of royal fathers, with the Och’Idoma, Ekoyi Elias Obekpa, in attendance.
Both the Governor and his deputy in the two successive meetings urged Idoma and Igede people to take a cue from Tiv land where peace, unity and dialogue prevailed in the selection of Tor Tiv and other chiefs, and imbibe dialogue and unity in the selection of their own traditional rulers too.
However, the governor emphasized that where dialogue was not achievable traditional councils should go into vote in line with stipulations in the law, saying law supersedes where there is a conflict between cultural practice and what the law says about the selection of the chiefs.
Before the two meetings, Ode Enyi who is also among the persons contesting to occupy the third class stools has on the platform of Omi’ Ny Igede zoned the first class stool to Adenu area of Oju LGA, but the state Commissioner for information and Orientation, Chief Odeh Ageh, flawed the zoning as running afoul of the law, insisting that due process must be followed, arguing that it was not the duty of the socio-cultural body to do so, but rather that of traditional council to zone as it wishes all within the ambit of the law.
Both the commissioner and the Omi’ Ny Igede president has been in throes of cross-accusations and horse-trading with the latter accusing the former of acting the script of Samson Okwu and Senator David Mark as well as that of Chief Obekpa who Enyi said were against Igede’s separate traditional council.
He also accused the commissioner of misrepresenting Governor Ortom in the whole chieftaincy matters, an acusation which the commissioner dismissed earlier as a lie.
On the other hand, the commissioner had accused Ode Enyi of collecting a N4million bribe from some people at Abuja to impose a first class chief on Igede people, an accusation tacitly corroborated against Ode Enyi by Ad’Óju in the Tuesday meeting with the Deputy Governor.
Not only that, the commissioner had also accused Enyi of usurping the power of the traditional chiefs in the process of the selection of the traditional rulers in Igedeland.
Governor Ortom’s position has been explicit: he would never interfere with the process of the selection of the royal fathers neither does he have interest in who is selected, but would ensure the process conforms to the law.
On whether socio-cultural organisations such as Omi’Ny Igede have any roles to perform under the law in the process of the selection of the chiefs, deputy governor said no.
Therefore, whatever zoning said to have been done by Omi’ Ny Igede was regarded as futile, null and void.
The process is expected to be concluded by the end of January 2017 and by first week of February the Igede first class chief must have been selected for confirmation by the Executive Governor of the state.
So, Abounu appealed to the Igede stakeholders to unite, dialogue and possibly throw up a good candidate for first class chief on consensus basis, but where that is not possible, voting according to law holds sway in line with the guidelines he would tell the Bureau for LG and Chieftaincy Affairs to make available to the relevant stakeholders ahead of the voting.