… Caretaker Committee to work towards new ADUN election
… Not clear if this will conduce to the conduct of a unified ADUN election
… Government-certified traditional ruler holds thanksgiving service
By Ndu Chris Nwannah, Guest Writer, Awka Times, with additional reporting
The first Izu Awka for the year 2020, held on Sunday January 12, ended with the institution of a 14-man Caretaker Committee to run the affairs of Awka Development Union Nigeria (ADUN).
The decision of the meeting followed from a ruling of the Appeal Court, Enugu Division in July 2019 which was interpreted by a camp in the ADUN feud to have nullified the elections of the two factional Presidents General of ADUN.
The Appeal Court in its judgement had recognized the 2004 constitution, registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), as the valid document for the Union.
In the precipitating case earlier filed in 2016 at the Awka High Court to settle the dispute between the ADUN factions, the lower court had affirmed that Engr Tony Okechukwu’s tenure ended in 2015 on a three-year tenure using the 2008 Awka constitution. That constitution stipulated a rotation of the offices of the President General and Secretary-General of the ADUN between the Ezi and Ifite sections of Awka, and provided that each position must not remain in each section for more than two terms of three years at a time. It also stipulated that no single officer of ADUN could be re-elected into the same position in which they had already served a tenure. However, a new constitution was later prepared to replace the 2008 document. It was floated as the 2014 constitution of ADUN. This development paved way for Engr Tony Okechukwu to emerge as ADUN President General for a second term, but this was contested by the opposing faction.
The issue was initially argued at the Awka High Court which in 2016 found in favour of the plaintiffs, ruling that Engr Tony Okechukwu’s tenure had effectively ended in 2015, based on the 2008 constitution. The High Court further approved the constitution of a seven-member Caretaker Committee to conduct a new election within three months of the ruling.
The election was conducted by the faction favoured by the ruling, leading to the emergence of Dr. Amobi Nwokafor as the President General of ADUN in 2016. This however did not settle the crisis in Awka as Engr Tony Okechukwu promptly appealed against the Awka High Court judgement at the Appeal Court, Enugu Division. The appeal court finally rendered a judgement in 2019 which upheld the 2004 ADUN constitution as the extant law for the Union.
This ruling was interpreted differently by the opposing factions of ADUN. While the Amobi faction argued that the ruling indubitably nullified the elections of both factional Presidents General of ADUN which it claimed were both based on the 2008 constitution, the Okechukwu camp insisted that the Enugu ruling rather affirmed the validity of Okechukw’s second term, insisting that Okechukwu’s election was never based on the 2008 constitution but on the 2004 document which allowed for a president general’s re-election. This divergence of opinion has led to a new case being instituted, asking the courts for an interpretation of the Enugu ruling. The case is still pending, even as the Izu Awka meeting was held on January 12.
The Izu Awka (otherwise known as Awka General Assembly) was attended by a cross-section of Awka traditional title holders, including members of Ndichies, Ozo Awka, red cap chiefs, members of the factional kingship cabinet, and a contingent of Awka youths. The meeting held at Ndichie Hall, Umudioka Village and was moderated by the former Secretary of Ozo Awka and the “Traditional Prime Minister” of factional kingship camp, Dr. Aneze Chinwuba.
▲A cross-section of attendees at the general meeting that held at Ndichie Hall, Umudioka Village Awka, Jan 12, 2020
The meeting resolved that a 14-man Caretaker Committee be appointed to pilot the affairs of ADUN with a view to conducting a new election. The two sections of Awka, Ifite and Ezi, produced seven members each. Chief Chike Obuekwe from Agulu in Ezi section was chosen as the Chairman of the Committee. Other members from Ezi are Chief Sunday Obuora (Okperi), Dr. Uche Ebeze (Umudioka), Barrister Ebele Nwofor (Umuogbunu), Chief Keluo Dike (Isiagu), Chief Onyechi Gambia-Okafor and Comrade Ndu Chris Nwannah (Igweogige).
The members from Ifite are Doctor Obiora Okechukwu (Umuayom), Rotarian Godwin Ndife (Umuokpu), Kenechukwu Okoye, Jekwu Arinze, Sam Nweke, Samuel Onwurah and Chief Paul Uchendu (Umuzocha).
Chief Emmanuel Nwonwu, who spoke on behalf of Ndichie Awka to affirm the decision, urged the committee to work towards promoting the interest and well-being of Awka.
The moderator, Dr. Aneze Chinwuba, earlier explained that the issue tabled before Awka was to ensure that there was no vacuum in the affairs of the community, following the Enugu Appeal Court ruling. The committee will among other things work towards conducting elections into the vacant executive positions in the ADUN.
The meeting was also attended by the former ADUN President General, Engineer Pat Nzekwe Ibe, as well as other branch presidents, secretaries, officers, village chairmen and executives.
It is not yet clear how the move will be received by the opposing ADUN faction, and if it would be possible to hold a unified election with modalities agreed by the opposing ADUN factions.
In another development, the government-certified traditional ruler of Awka (the position is contested), Eze Uzu II Gibson Nwosu who is aligned with the Okechukwu faction of ADUN, along with members of his cabinet, Awka Kingmakers and some Awka titles holders, attended a thanksgiving service also on Sunday January 12, 2020, at St. Francis Catholic Parish, Awka. As indicated, the service was meant to offer gratitude to God for a successful Egwu Uzu festival held by the monarch on December 28, 2019. The Egwu Uzu event marked the 21st anniversary of Eze Uzu Gibson Nwosu on the Awka kingship stool, and his 10th Egwu Uzu. The service was also held, according to participants, to thank God for preserving and protecting all Awka sons and daughters all over the world, and to pray for peace and prosperity in Awka town.
▲A cross-section of kingmakers and other title holders with Eze Uzu II after the thanksgiving service on Jan 12, 2020
A similar thanksgiving service is planned for Sunday January 19th, 2020, scheduled to hold at the Anglican Cathedral Church of St. Faith, Awka, to cater to the second major denomination in the town.