Umuoji Igweship tussle: Kanayo Okoye bullies PG to install him as Igwe against Constitution
The Igweship election tussle of Umuoji Town, an Anambra State community, has taken a rather dramatic turn as Chief Kanayo Okoye had written a petition to the President General, asking to be installed as the new Igwe contrary to the town’s Constitution after an inconclusive election in which he declared himself the winner.
Recall that ElombahNews reported on May 13, 2021, that the community is in a restless mood after the Igweship election held on Saturday, May 8, was declared inconclusive by the umpire in an election to install a new traditional ruler following the death of the late Igwe, HRH Cyril Enweze.
Three candidates — Chief Anaeto Simeon Muogbo, Chief Kanayo Okoye, and Chief Obiora Stephen Onwuachu — had participated in the election for a new Igwe.
Result showed that Chief Okoye polled the highest vote with a total of 473 votes.
Chief Muogbo was the first runner-up with 459 votes, while Chief Onwuachu was second runner-up with 359 votes.
However, an Igwe will not emerge based on the constitution of the community.
According to the chieftaincy constitution of Umuoji, Section 2.3 on method of selection, paragraph F, “where only two candidates qualify for election, the one securing a simple majority by secret ballot shall be declared elected. Where more than two candidates qualify, the candidate who scores two-thirds of the votes cast of the first ballot shall be declared elected.
“In a latter case, when no candidate scores up to two-thirds of the first ballot, a run-off election shall be arranged for the two candidates scoring the highest votes.”
Based on the outcome of the Umuoji community election, the Chief Returning Officer, Chief Chukwuemeka Joe Nsika (Nnanyelugo Siwo) declared the election inconclusive.
Chief Nsika announced: “For the avoidance of doubt, the election for an Igwe did not produce one.
“Rather, it produced two contestants for a run-off election in accordance with our chieftancy constitution.”
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In a dramatic move, however, Chief Okoye, who polled the highest vote declared himself the winner and when he would not be sworn in as Igwe took to his pen to demand same.
In a petition dated May 11, 2021, and addressed to the President General of Umuoji Improvement Union of Nigeria (UIUN), Chief Silas Onyima (Ogidi), Okoye protested “the failure… of Umuoji Improvement Union of Nigeria (UIUN)… to announce Chief Kanayo Okoye as the rightful winner of the May 8, 2021 election”.
Titled “Petition against UIUN’S failure to announce the winner of May 8, 2021 Igweship election: A flagrant abuse of the 1977 Umuoji Chieftaincy Constitution“, it had Hon. Emeka Asoanya, Chairman, UIUN Board of Trustees, Chief (Dr.) Chris Nnedu (Odezuluigbo), The Regent, Igwe-in-Council and Chairman, Dimechem Electoral Committee as other recipients.
Chief Okoye wrote:
“With profound sense of duty and responsibility, I write to vehemently protest the failure, so far, of Umuoji Improvement Union of Nigeria (UIUN) under your leadership to announce Chief Kanayo Okoye as the rightful winner of the May 8, 2021 election conducted by the eight villages of Dimechem quarter for the stool of Igwe Umuoji. This failure is in total contravention of the relevant sections of the 1977 Umuoji Chieftaincy Constitution. My petition is based on the following unassailable facts:
You will recall that at the end of the said election, the Electoral Committee declared the following results – Chief Kanayo Okoye (473 votes); Chief Simeon Muogbo (459 votes) and Chief Obi Onwuachu (359 votes).
This result clearly shows that Chief Kanayo Okoye not only won the simple majority vote but also had a good spread in the eight villages thus showing his acceptability and popularity.
The people of Dimechem quarter spoke loudly through their votes that they will NOT be cowed by the vicious campaign of division and conspiracy by a few individuals who have held down the community for many years.
However, I have noticed with great dismay and disappointment that since after the election that there has been a whispering campaign for a run-off in Umuoji and Awka by Chief Simeon Muogbo (Chikwadoaku) who lost the election in spite of the obvious malpractices in his Urumkpu village on election day.
This unnecessary and unconstitutional effort, no doubt, has been encouraged by UIUN’s obvious dereliction of its constitutional duties. These unpatriotic elements have been deliberately spreading this wrong position with the intention of creating tension in the community.
For the avoidance of doubt, the election of a new Igwe Umuoji is governed by a combined effect of Sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 9.5, and 9.6 of the 1977 Umuoji Chieftaincy Constitution. Therefore, anybody quoting any of these sections in isolation to suit his objective is not only being ignorant but highly mischievous.
Section 9.5 clearly creates the time frame within which a new Igwe-elect MUST emerge after the public burial of the late Igwe.
This section of the constitution compels UIUN to fulfill an obligation when it unambiguously states that “the CEC should announce the new Igwe-elect at the end of seven native weeks after the public burial of the late Igwe”.
A native week comprises four days and seven native weeks should be 28 days. The public burial of the late Igwe took place on Saturday, April 10, 2021 (Afor) and 28 days after the public burial fall between Sunday, April 11, 2021 and Saturday, May 8, 2021.
This means that all the processes for the emergence of a new Igwe-elect MUST hold within 28 days.
Section 2.3(f) states that “where only two candidates qualify for election, the one securing a simple majority by secret ballot shall be declared elected, Where more than two candidates qualify, the candidate who scores two-thirds of the votes cast at the first ballot shall be declared elected. In the latter case, where no candidate scores up to two-thirds of the first ballot a run-off election shall be arranged for the two candidates scoring the highest votes”.
Note that all these processes stipulated in Section 2.3(f) MUST hold within the time frame of 28 days as stipulated in Section 9.5. This mandatory 28 days elapsed on Saturday, May 8, 2021 and therefore UIUN has no constitutional right to arrange for any run-off election as being canvassed by some mischievous elements.
Doing so will be outside the 28 days within which a new Igwe-elect should emerge and clearly contravenes the intent and spirit of Section 9.5 of the Chieftaincy Constitution.
Let me also bring to your attention the provisions of Section 9.6 of the chieftaincy constitution. This section clearly and unambiguously states that “the installation of the Igwe-elect MUST take place within twelve (12) months from the date of the public funeral ceremony of the late Igwe”.
This means that the installation of Chief Kanayo Okoye (Omekannia), the winner of the election as the new Igwe-elect must hold before or on April 9, 2022. So be guided.
Having clearly stated these obvious dereliction of constitutional duty by UIUN under your leadership, I urge you in the interest of peace, natural justice and equity, to use your good office to immediately ensure the following:
To note that by the combined effect of Sections 2.3(f), 9.5 and 9.6 of the 1977 Umuoji Chieftaincy Constitution that I, Chief Kanayo Okoye (Omekannia), clearly won the May 8, 2021 election.
To ensure that UIUN sticks to the mandatory time frame stipulated by Sections 9.5 and 9.6 of the Chieftaincy Constitution for the emergence of a new Igwe-elect.
To note that UIUN has no constitutional right to arrange for any run-off election because the mandatory 28 days stipulated by Section 9.5 has elapsed. Also note that I, Chief Kanayo Okoye, will NOT participate in such illegality.
To take urgent steps to announce Chief Kanayo Okoye (Omekannia) as the new Igwe-elect as stipulated by Section 9.5 of the Chieftaincy Constitution.
Please note that I may be compelled to take lawful steps to ensure justice and protect my fundamental human rights if my prayers are not peacefully heeded. Kindly accept the assurances of my highest esteem and service.
Long live Umuoji Igwulube Okodu,
Long live Anambra State,
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. [END]
An Umuoji indigene who spoke to ElombahNews anonymously lamented that Chief Okoye has only but exhausted all mischievous means to grab the Igwe seat at all cost, hence the lamentations exhibited in the petition.
He said: “This is after they could not find any Anambra State Law that supersedes Town Union Constitution. Poor guy. The conspirators have drained him.”