Kolanut war: How traditional rulers split over abuse

One of the commonest sayings in Nigeria especially among the people from the South-east extraction is that whoever brings kolanut brings life. To that extent, kolanut is highly revered in every ceremony ranging from traditional marriage to elders meeting and all forms of religious gatherings.

Any ceremony devoid of kolanut is said to be incomplete because of the special place it occupies in a ceremony. To many people, kolanut ushers in blessings; therefore, it is accorded official recognition. It is in the light of this that elders frown at its abuse especially whenever the code of breaking and presentation is flouted. For instance, only an elder or a titled chief is allowed to pray over and break kolanut before others can partake of it. Whenever a younger person takes it upon himself to perform this ‘sacred’ role, it is said to be an affront on the ‘gods’

It is therefore not surprising when crisis hit the Traditional Rulers Council in Anambra east local government area following the suspension of a member for alleged violation of kolanut code.

The chairman of Anambra East Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Alex Edozieuno, confirmed that his council recently suspended HRM Igwe Benneth Emeka of Umueri community for violation of the code on breaking kolanut.

According to agency report, Igbo communities living in the five South-east states of Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Anambra and part of Rivers and Delta states highly respect kolanut and is part of major ceremonies in their lands.

The respect for Kolanuts, according to investigation, necessitates the traditional ritual of performing prayers before breaking them in any gathering.

Speaking at Otuocha, the headquarter of Anambra east local government, Edozieuno said Emeka’s six months suspension is sequel to his misconduct on January 29, 2019 during the ‘thank you’ visit of Gov Willie Obiano to the area.

“Before the enthronement of Igwe Beneth Emeka less than two years ago, Anambra east traditional rulers’ council has code of conduct which contains the order of kolanut breaking during functions.

“It is clearly stated that the right rests on the chairman of the council or any other traditional ruler he shall nominate to perform the function.

“But it is quite sad that since Igwe Emeka emerged the traditional ruler of his community he has severally violated the kolanut breaking code,” he alleged.

Edozieuno, who is 16 years old on the throne, claimed that the day Gov Obiano performed the ground-breaking ceremony of Anambra Airport project and the date the World Bank team visited the area, Emeka conducted himself in bad taste on kolanut code.

“It was in furtherance to his condemnable behaviour on a highly treasured tradition on kolanut which he also exhibited by hijacking the plate of kolanut being presented to Gov Obiano on January 29 at Otuocha Stadium that landed him suspension,” he said.

Edozieuno said that within the six months suspension period, the members of the council expected that Emeka should be given adequate orientation by his people before he rejoins the body.

Reacting, HRM Igwe Benneth Emeka, of Umueri community, dismissed the claim of his suspension by Edozieuno-led local government council of traditional rulers in the area.

“The purported suspension is the figment of imagination of Igwe Alex Edozieuno of Mkpu-Nando Aguleri Otu whose community is about 200 kilometers away from Otuocha.

”Igwe Edozieuno acted like a sole administrator and an emperor by unilaterally issuing what he tagged suspension letter to me just two days after the event that followed the kolanut breaking issue during Obiano’s visit on January 29.

“During the occasion, kolanut was presented and being traditional ruler of Umueri where Otuocha Stadium is located, I collected the kolanut and performed the necessary ritual before breaking it.

“It was rather an embarrassment to me and my community that Edozieuno began to publicise barely two days after the council in Anambra East what he tagged suspension letter to me, ” he said.

Emeka argued that before a traditional ruler could be suspended, such a person must have been tried by a disciplinary committee which would thereafter transmit its position to the state Council of Traditional Rulers for ratification.

“After such ratification, the council shall than forward such recommendations to the state governor who has the constitutional mandate to issue certificate of recognition to every traditional ruler in the state for action,” he said.

Emeka maintained that no such protocol was followed before the alleged suspension on him, adding that he had equally slammed two years suspension on Igwe Edozieuno.

“Edozieuno should face two years suspension because his purported suspension action negates a superior rule in the state on kolanut. This is because everywhere in Igbo communities, it is the traditional right of the host to present kolanut and break same for his visitors,” he added.

However, the Umueri National Youth Forum has issued a statement condemning the alleged suspension of their traditional ruler by Edozieuno, warning of dare consequences, if the action is not vacated.

Mr Chibuzor Ekwenye, president, Umueri National Youth Forum, who signed the statement, called on Gov Obiano to caution Edozieuno as the body would not fold its hands and watch the reputation of their traditional ruler messed up.

“We call on the Anambra East Traditional Rulers Council to sanction Igwe Edozieuno for over-stepping his boundaries and for this his ill-conceived action capable of causing breaking down of law and order in the area,” he stated.

 Culled from NAN

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