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Tension as Mayhem Mars Pete Edochie’s Community ofala celebration

 As opposing monarch calls for calm, caution

Crisis and palpable tension yesterday reached boiling point at Nteje, the sleepy home community of the ace Nollywood icon, Chief Pete Edochie the headquarters of the Oyi Council area, during the celebration of 2018 Ofala festival by one of the claimants to the traditional rulership throne, Rowland Odegbo.

Odegbo and Chief Charles Anaduaka were for years locked in a legal tussle over who becomes the authentic monarch for the community.

Situation literally broke down completely when hundreds of protesting citizens mainly youths took over the major road linking the community to the Enugu-Onitsha federal highway and the rest part of Anambra East-Anambra West council areas chanting wars songs critical of Odegbo and the Anambra State government.

The protesters, carrying a large white coffin draped with golden edges also carried numerous placards with inscriptions saying, “Odegbo is not our Igwe”, “Rowland Odegbo is a usurper”, “Obiano respect the wishes of Nteje people. Odegbo is not our monarch”, etc.

They didn’t disturb anyone but on their marching back along the same route, some irate youths, apparently from the side of Odegbo tried to stop them and it turned to a free-for-all fight.

Some cars of distinguished personalities from out of the state who came for the ofala and chieftaincy honour to some citizens were smashed.

One of the suspects was however apprehended by the soldiers on duty at the ofala.

Many guests and natives took to their heels and others quickly jumped into their cars and sped off back to their homes.

The crisis nearly ruined the whole event completely as guests simply disappeared.

When contacted, Anaduaka blamed the situation on non-respect for rule of law. He pointed out that Nteje and Anambra state have written laws on traditional institution that was carefully followed in his selection. But Odegbo went to court and lost.

After the verdict didn’t favour him, he went to Court of Appeal and lost again. “Right now he is in the Supreme Court, where we were asked to maintain the status quo. But he ignored it and now went ahead with this ofala which clearly infuriated the citizens thereby leading to fracas and total breakdown of law and order”, Anaduaka stated.

Further checks revealed that even the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice had in writing directed the Inspector General of Police to prevail on Odegbo to shelve the ofala, but to no avail.

It was gathered that the Anambra Police command had hard time prevailing on Odegbo to stop the event but that he allegedly used the contacts of the state government to organize the “illegal event”, Anaduaka admitted. He however urged citizens to remain law abiding and calm.

Some citizens who were injured have threatened to go to court to have Odegbo committed for illegal gathering.

From Chuks Collins, Awka

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