|As the crisis that has engulfed the leadership of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo in the Federal Capital Territory continues to give concerns to the Igbo people resident in the country’s capital territory, Elder (Barr.) Onwu O. Arua-led Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo FCT chapter, has stated strongly and categorically that there was no time that the FCT High Court, Jabi, presided over by Justice O. C. Agbaza, annulled the election that brought his executive committee of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo to power nor ordered for conduct of a fresh election.
Giving an insight into what led to the crises and various efforts made to address the situation by various bodies of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, the embattled FCT President of the association, Elder (Barr.) Onwu O. Arua, in a press statement he signed and made available to Journalists in Abuja weekend, noted that Justice Agbaza “never made orders disturbing the status of the elected executives, nor did he order the holding of elections of any type,” adding that “It was embarrassing that some people went to town claiming deceitfully that the Judge ordered a group to conduct elections within 21 days from date of delivery of the judgment.”
A faction led by one Chief John Ogbuu who is claiming to be a member of executive of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo FCT, (“suing for himself and on behalf of the entire members of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo FCT chapter”), had sued the immediate past President-General of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Worldwide, Chief (Barr.) John Nnia Nwodo, for illegally dissolving the Executive Committee of Abuja Chapter and constituting a Caretaker Committee headed by Chief Simon N. Okeke (Ochendo) to oversee her affairs and conduct elections.
However, Barr Arua opined that Justice Agbaza in his ruling/judgment failed to recognize the supervisory role of Ohanaeze National Headquarters over all branches and chapters of the organization, adding that the Learned High Court Judge “convinced himself that President-General Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Worldwide, Chief (Barr.) John Nnia Nwodo (as he then was) has no legal powers to constitute a Caretaker Committee to oversee the affairs of branches in crises.”
Barr Arua further explained that in the heat of the crises that engulfed the body, a caretaker committee headed by Chief Simon N. Okeke (Ochendo) which had prominent Igbo leaders including past governors, ministers, ambassadors, captains of Industries, representatives of traditional council etc was set up to oversee the affairs of the body in FCT and conduct an election to its executive body.
He disclosed that “in August 23, 2015 elections into the Executive Committee of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo FCT Chapter was held, and Mr. Odozi Nwodozi (Delta – Anioma) was elected President. Strangely, HRH Eze Nwosu Ibe (Igbo 1) backed him and mobilized great support for him, in place of a retired Foreign Affairs career civil servant, Ambassador Val. Ogosi, who was then Deputy Chairman (President). This was in spite of warnings that the young man will destroy Nd’Igbo in FCT.”
The FCT President of Ohanaeze further said that “ a year after the election, crises upon crises set in and Mr. Nwodozi in collaboration with ambitious sponsors spearheaded the attempted dethronement of Eze Igbo Abuja (HRH Eze Nwosu Ibe). While that was brewing, there were other accusations leveled against Mr. Nwodozi by the Elders Council (Abuja version of Ime Obi) – the advisory organ of Ohanaeze involved in dispute resolutions. He was found guilty of gross misconduct and inappropriate management of the affairs of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Abuja.
“Mr. Nwodozi was suspended from office as President Ohanaeze FCT, in the month of May 2018. This suspension was communicated to the immediate past President General, Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo World Wide, as the controlling Authority. Members of the Ohanaeze Executives also found him guilty of other infractions and had him removed from office.
“Unfortunately, effective steps were not taken to address the situation in spite of evidence of looming crises. Nwodozi defiantly continued to parade himself as the President of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Abuja, FCT with a few belligerent followers backed by one of the Chiefs of Nd’Igbo.
“The tenure of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Executive Committee, Abuja, which was elected for a four-year term with effect from August 23rd 2015 effectively ended on 23/08/2019, but Nwodozi and a few members of his group refused to relinquish power. They claimed to have amended Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo FCT Constitution 2004, christening it ‘Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Bye-Law 2019 as Amended.’ On the 23rd of August 2019, they claimed to have passed a resolution in a meeting extending their tenure by One year Six months, which is even in violation of their so called Bye-law 2019 as amended.”
He noted that to douse the tension generated by the crises in the association , the President –General between 8th and 9th of 0ctober 2019, invited all the feuding members of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Abuja to Enugu, including those from the camps of Igbo One and Dr. Eze Uche Egenti to listen to his position. “It was during this meeting that the President-General informed all that the tenure of Mr. Nwodozi (though illegally being occupied by him) had ended since 23/08/2019. It was in the same meeting that he informed all that he was setting up a Caretaker Committee to run Abuja chapter and conduct elections.”
The result of that proclamation by the President-General of Ohanaeze, led to the emergence of Chief Simon N. Okeke as the caretaker committee chairman with other prominent Igbo personalities However, it was learnt that Mr. Nwodozi, with the prompting of his supporters, rejected the formation of the Caretaker committee and “continued to parade themselves as Executives of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo, Abuja.
The climax was when they learned that Chief Simon N. Okeke-led Caretaker Committee was scheduled to hold an election to enthrone the Executives.”
Barr Arua claimed that the constitution of the caretaker committee by the national body of Ohanaeze, prompted Mr Nwodozi and his cohosts to approach the court, “claiming that they were still in power; that they extended their tenure by One Year, Six Months with effect from August 23, 2019. They claimed that there is nothing like Caretaker Committee contained in their Concocted Bye-law contrived mainly for the suit. Even though, in the so called Bye-law, they contrived, there is no provision for Tenure Elongation. There is a provision for the appointment of a Caretaker Committee to take over and conduct elections in the event that elections could not be held on the due season or date. (Article 15 (d)(19).”
The FCT Ohanaeze president assured Igbos in Abuja and beyond that his administration respects constituted authorities and will not tolerate lawlessness of any kind and will not permit “our administration to be subverted by a disgruntled, ambitious, or radical minority. We want to maintain that time honoured democratic principle of duly elected executives by Nd’Igbo serving out their offices without violent interference by those who disagree or are impervious to peaceful change.”
He added that though “disagreement and dissent are, of course, in the great tradition of a democracy world over; but a subterranean and clandestine attempt to take over power from a democratically elected executives, is repugnant to me, as it is to every civilized mind.”