Tension is currently high in Iji Nike community, Enugu East Local Government Area, Enugu State, over the purported removal of the President-General of the community and Chairman of Ikwu Ekpe masquerade, Chief Chukwuemeka Anike by the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Julius Nnaji.
Nnaji was accused of singlehandedly installing another individual without the consent of the elders and against the wish of some members of the community.
Speaking on how he was allegedly removed, Chukwuemeka Anike said the action of the traditional was null and void since he did not sustain the power to remove him singlehandedly.
He said that he had not committed any offence either against any individual or the custom of the land deserving of his removal, adding that even if he is accused of any wrongdoing, the elders and the Igwe would invite him to defend himself.
They called on the State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Inspector General of Police, Director of Department of State Services, to come to their aid before the crisis Igwe Nnaji is instigating in the community escalates.
“I just want to let the general public know that some group of people are trying to cause crisis in Iji Nike community which is made up of Umuchigbo and Umu Enwene where I am the President General.
“I was sworn in as PG by Igwe Nnaji at the premises of the eldest man in the community, Elder Dominic Okorie-Ifenze in 2021, barely 2 years ago for a five-year tenure. The Igwe decided on his own to remove me.
“I never committed any crime for which I should be removed. Let the Igwe tell the elders my offence. Let him tell the entire community what I have done.
“I am calling on the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who has done it before now in Iji Nike Community to come to our aid. The IGP and Director of DSS should come to our aid because Igwe is instigating violence in our community. I have been holding the youths back but I am tired of stopping them,” he said.
Speaking to journalists in his residence, the eldest man in Iji Nike, compromising Umuchigbo and Umuenwene, Elder Dominic Okorie-Ifenze condemned the action of Igwe Nnaji, saying it is illegal.
He said that the traditional ruler acknowledged his fault when he was summoned by the elders but refused to come back to the palace to clarify the elders on the allegations leveled against the PG.
“What the Igwe did was not in line with our custom and tradition. It’s illegal and cannot stand. He did it without the consultation of elders. We have processes to install PG and chairman of Ikwu Ekpe masquerade.
“We summoned him and after everything he accepted his fault but refused to come back on the day we scheduled to meet. The elders and the Chairman of Ekpe masquerade were at the meeting but the Igwe failed to show up. So as far as I am concerned, Chukwuemeka Anike is still the Chairman of Ikwu Ekpe,” he stressed.
Reacting, Igwe Nnaji said that it was within his power to superintendent over the community as the custodian of culture, adding that he does not need the approval of the elders to remove anyone who has become a threat to the culture of the community.
He alleged that members of the community had submitted several reports against the chairman of Ikwu Ekpe masquerade and he decided to remove him and install another individual who was chosen by the community.
He said: “In the Enugu State traditional rulers law, it was spelt out the duties of traditional rulers and it is my duty to ensure that nothing goes wrong in our community.
“I removed him because of several offences he committed and his removal stands. I do not need the approval of the elders. I have raised the hand of another individual and that is final.”