The group, Ukwuani Social Improvement League (USIL) has demanded an unreserved apology from Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and withdrawal by the state government, the suspension letter handed the traditional ruler of Umukwata Kingdom.
Recalls that the Delta State Government had on Tuesday April 2, 2019 suspended the traditional ruler of Umukwata Kingdom, His Majesty, Friday Abaja, Ukwata 1, allegedly for “acts inimical to peace, order and good governance”, a query/suspension letter signed by J.N. Egwahor, Permanent Secretary, Directorate of Chieftaincy Affairs said.
BIGPEN ONLINE had reported that the monarch was handed a six months suspension with immediate effect, within which he is expected to respond to a query letter handed to him.
The letter signed on behalf of the Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro read in parts: “In the exercise of its powers as stated in part IV, section 28(1) of the Traditional Rulers Council & Chiefs Law 2008 as amended, Your Majesty, Friday Abaja, Ukwata 1 of Umukwata Kingdom, Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State is hereby suspended by the State Government for a period of 6 (six) months in the first instance with immediate effect”.
The monarch was “further required to state”, in writing to the Office of the Deputy Governor, “within 7 days of receipt of this letter why a more severe sanction should not be imposed on you”.
But reacting to the suspension of the monarch, USIL, a social cultural organisation whose priority is to enhance social development in Ukwuani land, said the reported suspension was the greatest insult anyone can give to Ukwuani people.
They said, “it is a deliberate attempt to ridicule and undermine our traditional institutions and also to bring the entire Ukwuani nation to public disrepute.
In a statement signed by Mr.Chidi O. Uwabuofu, USIL Chairman, Mr. Nduka C. Osani, Secretary, Comr. Chukukuma M. Okujene, P.R.O, Hon. Ifeanyi Nwador, Vice Chairman, Hon. Jim Olise, Member, Mr David Olise, Member on Sunday, the group said that an insult to one Ukwuani man is an insult to the entire Ukwuani nation especially when that man is so loved and revered by his people.
The statement read in parts: “Our people deserve to be respected and Governor Okowa should accord due respect to Ukwuani people and should desist from undue interference in the socio-political and cultural affairs of the people.
“We have reasons to believe that the suspension of the King has a political undertone. The said suspension may have been occasioned by the King’s political anonymity throughout the electioneering period. This perhaps may be the reason for this charade orchestrated by the governor.
“This is not the first time that the actions of the Delta State government under Okowa would constitute a direct affront against our traditional institutions. Not too long ago, a number of our chiefs and elders were detained arbitrarily at Ogwashi Ukwu prison by Governor Okowa for over a month allegedly for issues relating to communal conflicts. And unfortunately, most of our political representatives continue to remain silent over these issues because of partisanship and this is why these insults keep reoccurring.
“Ukwuani people are naturally peaceful but our peaceful disposition should not be taken for granted by governor Okowa. We wish to make it abundantly clear to the governor that such insults will no longer be tolerated by our people because we cannot recall when such demeaning action have been meted out against other monarchs in Delta State”.
Subsequently, the group demanded: “The governor, as a matter of urgency must withdraw the suspension and tender an unreserved apology to Ukwuani people for his misguided decision to suspend the Ukwata 1 of Umukwata kingdom which we consider to be a slap on our faces
“The governor must also inform the general public stating clearly and unequivocally, the offence committed by His royal Majesty to warrant the kind of treatment meted out to him, a man who has singlehandedly transformed the Umukwata kingdom both in terms of infrastructure and human capital development, a kingdom that was hitherto abandoned by the state government over the years. And indeed, a man who has contributed immensely to the development of the economic landscape of the state.
“The Directorates of State’s Chieftaincy Affairs must remain objective and maintain political neutrality in all its dealings rather than allowing itself to be used as an instrument for self gratification by desperate politicians” they concluded.