Augustine Nwangwu Remains Traditional Ruler Of Ajali Community -- Indigenes Declare


Indigenes of Ajali community in Orumba-North Local Government Area of Anambra State have unanimously agreed and decreed that His Royal Highness Eze Augustine Nwangwu Ezeohazurume 1 of Ajali remains the traditional ruler of the community. 

Indigenes of Ajali who spoke exclusively with this journalist including the current President-General of Ajali Welfare Union (AWU) Mazi Tonie Obiefuna, in one accord, concurred that any person or group of persons not in agreement with the selection,  coronation and certification of Eze Augustine Nwangwu should mourn their fate because the traditional stool of Ajali is not cash and carry. 

While the likes of Mr. Mba Ifeanyi Douglas, a retired permanent secretary in the Anambra State Civil Service as well as a member of the royal family in Ajali, faulted the emergence of HRH Eze Augustine Nwangwu describing him as government-imposed traditional ruler and insisting that Eze Augustine Nwangwu should as a matter of urgency relinquish the throne for a proper selection process, others believe that the people of Ajali have made the right choice by choosing Augustine Nwangwu to be the Eze. 

Ajali, a relatively small but very prosperous community which originated from Arochukwu in Abia State, has a rich cultural heritage from whence the Ezeship of the community emerged. The community which sits on a tripod, historically has three major families called the Royal Dynasty from where Eze Ajali rotated. 

Also a certain consent judgement of 1986 had bestowed exclusive right to the royal families to always produce the traditional ruler (Eze) of the town in accordance with the culture and tradition of Ajali as handed down to them by their progenitors who migrated from Arochukwu to their present settlement. 

Although that was when the three families who were the first settlers in Ajali heldsway. Today, the community has metamorphosed and transited into a more civilised society consisting of 17 families.

 This was however the remote reason Mr. Mba Ifeanyi Douglas insisted that Ajali community has embraced modern day civilisation and that it would be absolutely unjust and unfair for the Ezeship of the community to rotate within three families only leaving other families denied and relegated. 

Be that as it may, the PG Ajali Welfare Union, Mazi Tonie Obiefuna corroborated the fact that from time immemorial the Ezeship of Ajali had always emanated from the three royal families.

 Although he recalled that there was a time in the past  the royal families had issues amongst themselves and they all approached the Court. He said at some point, the three royal families opted for out of Court settlement which he said later resulted in a consent agreement where the three families agreed to produce the Eze or king rotationally. 

Obiefuna however pointed out that neither the leadership of the town union nor any individual or group challenged the consent judgement until it elapsed with time. But recently according to him, some persons came up to say the town was not joined in the lawsuit even though he said that the consent judgement began with the phrase " We the people of Ajali. ' 

According to the PG, problem began after the demise of the previous Eze,when the family that produced him insisted that they would continue to produce the Eze but the other two families blatantly disagreed on the condition that the consent judgement stated clearly that the kingship of Ajali community should rotate amongst the three royal families. 

This however saw the three families going to court again. The PG therefore revealed that the family that produced the last Eze got judgement from a lower court to install the next king as it ruled that the Ezeship of Ajali is hereditary. Rather than coronate the first son of the late Igwe, some persons conspired and coronated his younger brother on the grounds that the first son had consented to the coronation. 

Trouble therefore ensued when word reached the first son that his younger brother has been coronated as the next Eze of Ajali. The PG said the first son returned saying he didn't give his consent for his younger brother to be coronated; that he was ready to take up the kingship of Ajali as the heir apparent. Hence another group of people gathered and the first son was coronated as Eze Ajali. Thereafter two brothers of the same parents emerged as traditional rulers of Ajali community. 

Meanwhile other members of the Ajali royal dynasty approached court of a superior jurisdiction and got a counter judgement which held that the Ezeship of Ajali was not hereditary but should be rotational amongst the three royal families as contained in the consent judgement of 1986 and that everything regarding the traditional stool of Ajali should return to status quo as it is proper for the next family in line to produce the next Eze.

 The Appeal Court judgement was however communicated to Ajali Welfare Union. The PG noted that at the Central Executive Meeting of Ajali Welfare Union, the then President-General Engr. Ejike Okoli announced that the other family has got judgement from a higher court that they should go and produce the next Eze Ajali. That according to him was how the entire Ajali community coronated the current government approved traditional ruler Eze Augustine Nwangwu Ezeohazurume 1 of Ajali ancient dynasty. 

Obiefuna said thereafter Eze Augustine Nwangwu was presented to Orumba-North Local Government Chairman by the town union and that none of the characters seeking to dethrone him now ever protested or contested his presentation to the council authority. He said Orumba-North Local Government Authority wrote to the State Government informing it of the emergence of Eze Augustine Nwangwu as the new traditional ruler of Ajali community. 

The PG said after due diligence and thorough investigations, the government of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo bestowed Certificate of Recognition on Eze Augustine Nwangwu in August last year and ever since, Ajali community has been in peace with progressive developments. 

The PG equally disclosed that the dissident groups in the community have declared that they were no longer indigenes of Ajali and they would no longer pay their dues or be part of developmental programmes in the community. That rather than go to court to seek redress, the dissidents have decided to ground the community. 

But Ikechukwu Okoli a Lecturer at the Department of Cooperative Economics and Management Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka and a native of Umuabiama village Ajali, opined that there is no laid down procedure for selection of the king in Ajali Constitution but historically, Ajali has been having Eze from inception. He said that the present day Ajali is a conglomeration of itinerant merchants who settled where is now known as Ajali. According to him, there is no peace in the community and the people of Ajali were not carried along in the selection of the current Eze. 

Meanwhile Mba Ifeanyi Douglas, a retired permanent secretary in the Anambra State Civil Service and a native of Obinikpa village Ajali, recalled that the kingship issue in Ajali started since 2005 when the last Eze joined his ancestors. He told this journalist that right from the days of their forefathers, the Eze has been coming from a particular family either by accident or by design.

 That even when the last Eze died, some persons felt that because the Eze has been coming from the Umuotti family: that they would retain it. He said some group of persons within the royal families manipulated their way to the Government House and Eze Augustine Nwangwu was issued certificate of recognition. 

Mba said the development didn't go down well with other families in Ajali because they had insisted that they want to change the method of selection of Eze in Ajali so as to carry other families along. The retired permanent secretary who said that Eze Augustine Nwangwu was his personal friend, maintained that the process of his selection was fraught with irregularities because according to him, some unscrupulous persons with pecuniary interests ganged up and made him the Eze. That they forced Eze Augustine Nwangwu on the people of Ajali just because one of them was a classmate of the Local Government Commissioner in Anambra State. 

He said that the present situation now in Ajali is that the 17 families would come to a roundtable to fashion out ways of selecting Eze Ajali which he said was not captured in the Constitution of the community. Mba who noted that it is only death that is irrevocable, said the most honourable thing for Eze Augustine Nwangwu to do was to vacate the throne and let the people of Ajali do the proper selection for peace to reign. 

Mba who also told this journalist that they have protested to the State Government concerning the selection process that installed the new traditional ruler, admonished Eze Augustine Nwangwu to listen to the voice of reason rather than the voices of those deceiving him. 

But in the opinion of Arch. Dr. Chika Eni, Ajali community does not operate Igweship instead it operates Ezeship. Eni explained that one could manipulate the Igweship process with money but the Ajali Ezeship, according to him, is not manipulatable because it is highly monarchical. He said that the Ezeship of Ajali community was zoned to the three royal families as far back as 1972 and that in 1986 a consent judgement further ceded the Ezeship to the three royal families from where the present Eze emerged. 

Eni categorically stated that any person who is not accepting the emergence of Eze Augustine Nwangwu is crazy because Ajali has a culture which it inherited from Arochukwu. Another architect from the community Arc. Onyekachukwu Otti who hails from Obinikpa village Ajali, opined that there has been a rulership house in Ajali since they migrated from Arochukwu. He said that Augustine Nwangwu belonged to the lineage of Oji Otti the founder of Ajali and the very first king of the community. 

Onyekachukwu Otti said although there have been issues with successions but eventually the matter was settled with a consent judgement that was delivered in 1986. He stated that the said consent judgement spelt out how the Eze would be selected and rotated amongst the three ruling houses in Ajali as it is in Arochukwu where they migrated from. 

Although he disclosed that the Ezeship issue in Ajali was already at the Supreme Court, he noted that those kicking against the enthronement of Eze Augustine Nwangwu were equally agitating against the leadership of Ajali Welfare Union, adding that the people of Ajali have spoken in one voice and they have unanimously selected Augustine Nwangwu to rule over them as the new Eze of the land. 

Also the traditional ruler of Ajali community, His Royal Highness Eze Augustine Nwangwu Ezeohazurume 1 of Ajali, who spoke exclusively with this journalist, said the Ezeship of Ajali is by tradition. Nwangwu said they migrated from Ujali in Arochukwu and that the name Ajali is actually Ujali because they were migrants from Arochukwu. He said of all the Aro communities in Orumba-North and Ndi-Izuogu in Imo State,  Ajali is the only Aro community that doesn't answer Ndi. 

Eze Augustine Nwangwu noted that their ancestors were liberal allowing all comers to Ajali to have a sense of belonging and they don't discriminate against visitors who found humble abode in Ajali. But according to him, cultural issues were very sensitive issues. He said that if they were going to maintain their link with the Aros, then whatever they do would be in consonance with those of the Aros including Ezeship selection. 

Eze Augustine Nwangwu explained that the Aros always have a ruling house he called the Royal Dynasty. He said that when those whom they accommodated in the land became rich, prosperous and had access to power, they began to water down the culture and tradition of the real aborigines of Ajali community. He said they began to mute Ezeship by election which according to him was never done in Aro culture and tradition. The traditional ruler however maintained that even though Ajali has an open-door policy, it can not jettison her cultural heritage because of her visitors whom it accommodated from inception.

 According to him, Ikeji is the New Yam Festival in Arochukwu where they migrated from. But to accommodate her visitors, they jettisoned Ikeji festival which holds in September in Arochukwu and began to celebrate it between March and April in Ajali and replaced Ikeji festival with Otite, their own new yam festival which now holds in September, adding that how much more can they be magnanimous with their visitors ? 

The Ajali monarch noted that any negation of their customs and tradition amounted to very dire spiritual consequences because the Aros are governed by their culture. Nwangwu further disclosed that irrespective of the huge sums of money spent in US Dollars by his opponents just to thwart his Ezeship, the Anambra State Government under Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo gave him Certificate of Recognition and today he is a certified traditional ruler in Anambra State. 

He said Ajali is a peace-loving community and very hospitable with government presence radiating in all the nooks and crannies of the community. 




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