By Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT—THE tussle for the kingship of Iriebe community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State has torn the community apart.
The peace of the rustic settlement was shattered following the installation of Chief Monday Worenwu as Nyenwe Eli Iriebe (the paramount ruler of the community) three months after the demise of its monarch, the late Eze Michael Eleto.
According to the community, the installation of Eze Monday Worenwu penultimate Saturday, by His Royal Majesty, King Anyabele Emmanuel Uche, Eze Esara III, Nyerisi Mbam, Oro-Esara Kingdom, was contrary to the will of the people and would not stand.
King Anyabele Uche
Angered by the development, some indigenes of the community, armed with placards with the inscriptions: Chief Monday is not a King; We are still mourning our late Eze Michael C Eleto and others, marched round the community and Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway in protest of the installation.
Lamenting the turn of event in the community, Chief Jeremiah Worenwu, Chairman, Iriebe Council of Chiefs, told Niger-Delta Voice that it was wrong for an individual to crown a traditional ruler three months after the death of its king.
Worenwu said it was a deviation from the custom of the people to install a new king less than a year after the death of the predecessor, stressing that such installation would not stand and urged Monday to stop parading himself as the king of the community and called on Governor Nyesom Wike and the security agencies to wade in to avoid breach of the peace.
He said: “We observed that some strange elements are trying to breach the peace in this community. We have just buried our paramount ruler some days back and tradition demands that we will mourn him for a period of one year before we will go in search of another Eze (paramount ruler).
“But we were surprised when on the same day we were burying our Eze, Mr. Monday Worenwu came, claiming that he has been crowned by King Anyabele Uche, who is not from our community.
“We are peace-loving people and we do not want war. We are saying that the installation will not stand. We are calling on Chief Monday to step down and stop parading himself as our paramount ruler.”
Also, Francis Eleto, the Chief Security Officer of Iriebe, said: “What they have done is a taboo in Ikwerre land. It has never happened before and it is a shame. It is not our way, we have a tradition. It is not good that we should allow this happen in our land. That is why we are clad in black to say that it will not stand. Nobody can impose a chief on us.
“Iriebe is the first son of Oro-Esara Kingdom and a second son cannot perform the coronation of the first son. We are threatened by the development. Many of us have been receiving threat messages and it is stirring up fear in the community.”
However, Mrs Martina Worenwu, who spoke on behalf of the women of the community, explained that for a period of six years, the community has lost three paramount rulers to death.
She said: “We women of Iriebe are joining in the call for the governor to help look into the matter because we don’t want war. We have suffered for over six years now. Any king they crown dies after two years. Within these people, they have crowned over three paramount rulers and they have all died. We don’t want our chiefs to keep dying. We are tired of this kind of coronation that is taking the lives of our people.”
I have right to install Eze in Iriebe
Meanwhile, His Royal Majesty, Eze (Dr.) J A Uche, Eze Esara III, Nyesiri Mbam, Oro-Esara, has defended the installation of Monday saying he is the authentic ruler of Iriebe.
Uche said: “I am the paramount ruler of Oro-Esara Community made up of 18 communities. Iriebe is the first son of Esara and Iriebe is one of the towns in my kingdom. The past chief of Iriebe I crowned him but he has passed on.
“I installed Eze Monday Worenwu. His father was the original chief of Iriebe. When his father died, other people hijacked the stool. Immediately they enter few years they die. This last one is making the third that has died on that stool. I looked down as an old man at 98 years; they can’t impose law on me.
“I have the traditional right to make king in that community because their stool is undermined. I did the right thing. He is the authentic ruler of that community, anyone making noise is an enemy of progress. They are shouting wolf when there is none.”