Police stops Awka factional Monarch’s new yam festival

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There was pandemonium Saturday in Awka as security operatives dispersed, sealed off the home of Chief Austin Ndigwe and stopped his planned new yam festival.

Ndigwe had a few years ago, declared himself the traditional ruler of Awka even when the town’s Monarch, Obi Gibson Nwosu 11 is still alive.

Ndigwe, who allegedly has the support of some indigenes of the town, has been parading himself as the traditional ruler of the community.
Yesterday, he planned to celebrate this year’s new yam festival for the community in which prominent people across the country were invited.

However, as some of the guests were already seated at about 11am, a detachment of police and military men arrived and sealed the palace and chased away the invited guests.

The area was also cordoned off by policemen who said they were acting on orders from above.

One of the youths of the community said: “The policemen and the soldiers used teargas canisters to chase us away.There was pandemonium when they started shooting in the air and people ran away from the area and some of us sustained injuries.”

Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, however, said he was not aware of any order to seal off the palace of the factional monarch.

However, the state government has condemned the action of Ndigwe, describing him as an impostor.

A statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Paul Nwosu said: “It has come to the attention of Anambra State government that one Austin Chukwuezube Ndigwe, alias Uzu Awka, is still parading himself as the authentic traditional ruler of Awka.

“Not only that; he is also taking steps to perform one of the major harvest season’s traditional rites known as New Yam festival of the Awka people, thereby threatening the peace and tranquility of the town. The state government will not tolerate this.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the state government wishes to state emphatically that the only recognised traditional ruler of Awka is His Royal Highness, Obi Gibson Nwosu, Eze Uzu II of Awka whose recognition by the state government has not been withdrawn and he is the only one empowered by Section 15 of the Traditional Rulers Law of Anambra State 2007 to preside over such festivals or carry out any of the functions of a traditional ruler in Awka.

“It is a criminal offence for any other person to do so by virtue of section 20 of the Traditional Rulers Law of Anambra State 2007.

“The said Austin Ndigwe is not the recognised traditional ruler of Awka and should henceforth desist from parading and portraying himself as the traditional ruler of Awka, or attempting to usurp the rights of the legitimate and duly recognized traditional ruler, His Royal Highness, Igwe Obi Gibson Nwosu.

“Any such unlawful act in any part of Anambra State would not be condoned by the Anambra State government and the state will not hesitate to sanction the impostor, according to the relevant laws of Anambra State”.

Ndigwe could not speak on the matter yesterday as he said he was in a meeting.

The people of Awka Kingdom were taken aback a few years ago when Ndigwe, with the support of some influential members of the community claimed that he had mounted the throne of the community and has since then, been running a parallel traditional institution in the community.

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