Ofala Festival: Anambra Govt raises alarm over alleged security threats

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Anambra state government, has raised alarm over alleged security threats, as a result of tussle bordering on traditional stool of Awka town.

This is contained in a statement signed by Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, Secretary to the State Government and made available to Newsdiaryonline on Tuesday.

“The attention of the State Government has been drawn to an impending danger and serious threat to the security of life and property in the State capital, Awka, arising out of a so-called tussle over the traditional stool of Awka town. 

“The undercurrents of this so-called tussle has manifested in several negative ways over the last few months and is reasonably suspected to be one of the factors behind the incessant cult clashes and killings in the town.

“The tussle is now reportedly set to climax in unprecedented violence on or before 28th December 2019, the date fixed for the traditional Ofala celebration of the EZE UZU of Awka, His Royal Highness, Igwe Gibson Nwosu. 

“Information available to the State Government is to the effect that the latest threat is principally as a result of the activities of one Chief Austin Ndigwe, alias Uzu Awka, who in the past one year (or thereabout), laid claim to the Kingship of Awka town and has also fixed to hold a parallel Ofala festival, under the guise of a birthday celebration on the same date (28th December 2019).

“This development has further degenerated the precarious security situation in Awka with critical stakeholders, traditional title holders, youth groups and other indigenous organisations in the town, torn on war paths on either side of the debacle and set to clash on the appointed date.

“It has therefore become necessary for Government’s intervention to set the records straight and avert the looming crisis,” the statement read.

The state government therefore identified Igwe Gibson Nwosu, Eze Uzu Awka, as the authentic traditional ruler of Awka town.

“Thus, it is the position of Government:

1. That the authentic traditional ruler of Awka town is His Royal Highness, Igwe Gibson Nwosu, Eze Uzu Awka, who was crowned and subsequently recognised with a Certificate to that effect presented to him on April 27 1999 by Wing Commander Uwakwe Ukaegbu, then Military Administrator, in line with the Anambra State Traditional Rulers’ Act.

2. That HRH Igwe Gibson Nwosu, Eze Uzu Awka is the only person empowered by extant law as well as the ancient traditions of Igbo Land and Awka kingdom to hold, authorise or supervise the performance of traditional rites in his personal capacity or on behalf of the town including the performance of the annual Ofala festival;

3. That HRH Igwe Gibson Nwosu, Eze Uzu Awka has the full and unflinching support of the Anambra State Government to celebrate the ANNUAL OFALA FESTIVAL as scheduled for 28th December 2019 in recognition of the respect deserving of traditional rulers in the State.

4. That Chief Austin Ndigwe aka Uzu Awka is NOT known to the Anambra State Government in any capacity whatsoever associated with the Kingship of Awka town;

5. That Chief Austin Ndigwe aka Uzu Awka has no right to perform, authorise or supervise any traditional rites on behalf of Awka town  or in his personal capacity;

6. That the attempt to fix a parallel Ofala or other event on the date of the Ofala festival of the Eze Uzu Awka is a clear and deliberate attempt by Chief Austin Ndigwe to undermine the Awka traditional institution and create instability in the town and will NOT be tolerated by the Government.”

It also advised the general public and indigenes of Awka town on the need to be law abiding and not participate in activities inimical to the security of Awka town in particular and the State in general.

“No responsible Government will allow the unlawful polarisation of critical institutions by anybody no matter his/her societal status, such as being witnessed in the gradual decimation of the revered traditional stool of the Ancient kingdom of Awka with its negative implications for the security of the State capital.

“All concerned should therefore take note that Security Agencies in the State have been notified on the above position and empowered to decisively deal with anyone engaging in acts that threaten the peace and security of the State Capital,” it further stressed.

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