Facts about the Scuffle within Nzukora Nnewi Leadership and Anambra Government
Nzukora Nnewi the Nnewi Town Union in the past few days was immersed in a controversy that climaxed with an alleged expulsion of the Public Secretary of the Town Union; Sir Augustine Ike, days ago.
The whole incident started as an offshoot of COVID-19 outbreak in response of which the government of Anambra state constituted a committee to solicit financial assistance from wealthy and well meaning Anambra indigenes, for the purposes of assisting with the measures the government is putting in place to contain the deadly disease in Anambra state. On his own part, the senator representing Anambra South senatorial zone; Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah also set up a fundraising, calling on his friends, associates and allies to donate into a central purse so that he can use the funds to build three isolation centres in the senatorial zone and provide some food items to the people of his senatorial zone. Construing his own fundraising as an attempt to sabotage the government’s own fundraising, the Commissioner for Information in Anambra State; C. Don Adinuba, issued a wildly published release in which he stated without equivocation that Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah was on his own and not only that he has not sort to work with the government to harmonize efforts towards fighting COVID-19 in Anambra state, but also pursuing his own agenda. This clarification the Commissioner said, was necessitated because, “individuals and organizations complain about the confusion they face while seeking to contribute funds to Anambra people and the state government is not aware of the funds drive by Senator Ubah. In other words, the government is not part of Senator Ubah’s fund drive and people should therefore not confuse the two”. The Anambra Information Commissioner went on to narrate that “Ubah did not consult us before he started his solo enterprise, nor has he, to this moment, sought to work with the state government”. Hence he concluded that “The state government does not sanction his activities”. Hon. C. Don Adinuba went a step further to note that “successful entrepreneurs…who are not indebted to Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) have contributed significantly to the campaign against coronavirus”. To this end, there is little doubt that the Commissioner did his best to not only distance the state government from Ubah’s fundraising, but he went advanced to discredit it, or maybe ridicule Sen. Ubah, perhaps on the basis that Sen. Ubah’s Capital Oil and Gas Ltd, reportedly owes AMCON.
In a rather dramatic turn, Sen. Ubah did not reply the press release and none of his aides gave the commissioner any reply, however, the PRO of Nzukora Nnewi; Sir Augustine Ike, wrote in his personal blog in response and titled it; “COVID-19 Saga: C. Don Adinuba; Anambra State Commissioner for Information is a Disgrace”… In his reaction, the PRO said that “Anambra state Information Commissioner has zero media presence and yet is the commissioner for information of a state”. According to the PRO in his rebuttal, “in fact, the only sensitization article ever released by the Anambra State Executive Council since this health crisis started was the one written by Nnewi born Hon. Melie Onyejepu and it was highly criticized by the confused James Eze (S.A Media) (actually, James Eze is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor), on grounds that it is not the duty of Hon. Onyejepu”. So he averred thus, “I am beginning to draw conclusion that this government is in serious relationship with ineptitude and its corollaries”. He then went on to address his rebuttal in paragraphs against each point raised by the commissioner in his own publication and demanded “C. Don Adinuba to explain what the state did with the alleged N75 billion left for Governor Obiano by ex-governor Peter Obi, in savings”. He also said the isolation centres mentioned by the Commissioner in his press release, are inadequate and almost non-existent. In conclusion Augustine said, “C. Don Adinuba, for having time to play stupid politics when our entire lives is hanging on a balance, you are a big disgrace and should honourably resign”, those were Sir Augustine’s words.
The PRO’s rebuttal was widely shared and then published by Elomba blog, where the personal opinion of the PRO was said to be that of Nzukora Nnewi, with the title “COVID-19: You are a Disgrace Nzukora Nnewi Blasts Anambra Information Commissioner”. This particular publication was specifically unsettling and irking, even more so, because of the tone of Augustine’s rebuttal, which we have did our best to reproduce above in part. All these happened before the meeting which was convened on 6th April by Igwe Nnewi; HRH Igwe K.O.N Orizu 111 in his Palace, after which a publication by a blog alleging that Augustine Ike has be sacked as PRO of Nzukora. This blog post was shared on social media platforms by the Chairman of Nzukora Nnewi; Sir. Ugochukwu Udemzue. However, Sir Augustine Ike has in a video titled “Nnewi under siege” which he recorded and made public, as well as on his Facebook post, alleged that the Chairman of Nzukora; Sir. Ugochukwu Udemezue and his Vice Chairman; Sir. Fabian Obi, are running illegal revenue business. He alleged that the duo are collecting money that runs into multi million naira in Nnewi markets, in the name of Nzukora. He said this was why he was conspired against as the Chairman knows that he will respond and spoil their illegal business. He also said that when he was called for a meeting by the Chairman of Nzukora, with other executive members of Nzukora to write a disclaimer against the publication on Elomba blog which purports that his personal opinion is that of Nzukora, he agreed but when he saw another publication on Anaedoonline by the same Chairman in which the Chairman distanced Nzukora from Elomba’s blog post, and also stated that he will be disciplined and issued with a query, he refrained from doing a disclaimer to Elomba, though already he said, there was no need seeing that Elomba has already changed the caption of the publication which was in Nzukora’s name. The PRO accused the Secretary General of Nzukora; Barr. Obinna Uba of conspiring against him with other executive members of Nzukora, to remove him, illegally. He also accused the Anambra state Commissioner for Youths; Hon. Afam Mbanefo of sending message to the Transition Chairman of Nnewi North Local Government; Hon. Prince Chukwudi Orizu, to convey the meeting and alleged that Hon. Afam said that the governor wants him to resign as PRO of Nzukora Nnewi. He questioned the constitution of the meeting at the Igwe Nnewi’s Palace which according to him was not duly constituted and wondered what Hon. Francis Okeke popularly known as Omo, a former Local Government Chairman of Nnewi North, came to do in the meeting. Going further he hinted that when he called Hon. Francis to know what he came to do in the meeting, he said (Hon. Francis said) that he was invited. Augustine then went on to say in the video that there are more Otolo and Umudim people in the meeting at Igwe’s Palace where he was alleged by a blog report which was shared by Sir Ugochukwu, to have been sacked. Also, Augustine Ike accused Hon. Prince Chukwudi Orizu of masterminding the meeting at Igwe’s Palace and carefully chose the attendees who Augustine alleged were used to pin him down in contravention of the provisions of Nnewi constitution. Hon. Orizu was accused by Augustine of threatening him in a letter which he said Hon. Orizu addressed to him. Equally, Hon. Melie Onyejepu was accused by Augustine for being the main person engineering the plot to remove him from office. He then stated in the video that he want the governor to transmit a letter notifying him of their decision that he should resign, then he will reply the letter. But he concluded and stated with no prevarication, that the governor is not even aware of what is going on. That it was only “a gang up”, insisting that he was expelled without due process.
We have reached all the actors accused by Augustine Ike of one illegality or highhandedness, to hear from them and ascertain the facts of the matter. First, Hon. Afam Mbanefo the Commissioner for Youth in Anambra State noted that a day or two after Augustine made his publication, he was with Hon. Amala Anazodo and they called Augustine Ike and the three of them talked as brothers and he admonished Augustine as a younger brother, against writing unnecessary insulting opinions as such is not in his best interest and they talked purely as friends and brothers and later happily dispersed. According to Hon. Afam Mbanefo whom Augustine accused that he said the governor asked him to resign; he came to the meeting also on invitation and what he said to Augustine in the meeting at Igwe Nnewi’s Palace was that the government of Anambra state is skeptical of his sharp personal opinions and confused as to whether he is speaking the position of Nnewi, this the commissioner said is not good for Nnewi. According to the Commissioner, “considering the publication on Elomba blog, it is assumed he was speaking for Nnewi and meanwhile as the PRO, you will agree that it is difficult to distinguish his personal opinion from his official position. I did not say that the governor wants him to resign; I said he should find a balance to avoid conflict of interest because when he speaks as PRO, he speaks for the Town. What he says can affect the way the government sees Nnewi and it is just not right. Even Barr. Nwafor-Orizu and Hon. Francis Okeke said similar things; every other decision (whether suspension or expulsion) is left for Nzukora leadership”, Hon. Afam said. Hon. Melie Onyejepu who is the governor’s adviser on budget did not respond to call or message, just like Sir. Ugochukwu Udemzue, Nzukora Nnewi’s Chairman. However, Barr. Obinna Uba the Secretary General of Nzukora Nnewi, who was accused by Sir Augustine Ike of conspiring against him responded. According to him, “I have no reason to conspire against Sir Augustine Ike, who is my brother. Augustine makes unnecessary publications in the name of Nzukora Nnewi without following due process stipulated by the constitution and I have cautioned him because most of these publications do not serve the interest of Nnewi. When the one on Elomba came up, we asked him to retract it and he agreed, it was an agreement between him and other executive members of Nzukora Nnewi, in the absence of his compliance which he openly admitted in the meeting at Igwe Nnewi’s Palace, he was suspended by the leadership of Nzukora. Augustine was suspended and not expelled”. Talking about whether the meeting in Igwe’s Palace was properly constituted, Barr. Uba noted that “It was Igwe Nnewi that presided over the matter before the Obis, BOT members, Executives, Stakeholders, Royal Cabinets and Body of Titled Chief”.
The Transition Chairman; Hon. Prince Chukwudi Orizu on his part expressed shock at the accusation by Sir Augustine Ike. According to him, “Please, I did not address any letter to Augustine. I wrote a letter to Nzukora Nnewi through their Chairman, Sir. Ugochukwu Udemezue and I did not threaten him for anything, I will send the letter I wrote to you”, he said. The letter written by Hon. Chukwudi Orizu was dated 03 April, 2020 and titled “Re: COVID-19, you are a disgrace; Nzukora Nnewi Blasts Anambra Information Commissioner, Don. Adinuba”. It reads in part as follows, “It is worrisome that Nzukora would stoop low into partisan politics in cruel and fallacious manner… if any individual wishes to be in the know, (he) should approach the office of the Chairman… to see the extent of preparedness of our state government…in view of the above, you are advised to use your good office to withdraw such fallacious and unfounded publication, and appropriate sanction(s) to the person or persons involved within twenty-four hours and publish same”. That was the letter written to Nzukora by Hon. Chukwu Orizu. There was no threat issued by Orizu to Ike, in the letter, which in the first instance was not addressed to him.
We could not get the response of Nzukora Nnewi’s legal adviser; Barr. Oseloka Osigwe on the matter, as he did not answer his call nor replied our message. But what is known so far is that Barr. Osigwe cautioned Augustine only a few days ago on Nzukora Nnewi’s whatsapp forum, to be careful with his opinions to avoid it being construed to be the position of Nnewi, following another publication in which Augustine wrote against Prof. Soludo titled, “Soludo will remain a dream governor”.
Therefore, we can say with reasonable certitude that Augustine Ike was not expelled as he alleged, he however remains Nzukora’s PRO as he claimed in his video, pending decision on his suspension. He was only suspended and not expelled; he could not have been expelled because he is elected and serving Uruagu Nnewi’s mandate in Nzukora. However, most allegations raised by Sir Augustine Ike are superfluous, sheer amplification, generally too difficult to confirm or proof.
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