By Dennis Agbo
Ever since the apex Igbo organisation endorsed the presidential candidature of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi, the suspended Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mr. Uche Okwukwu has been in the news for being at variance with the body he swore to protect its tenets.
•Ohanaeze chieftains in a meeting
Okwukwu, a radical lawyer from Ikwerre, Rivers State, had easy sail to emerge Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo since he had not much rivals to contest with. Subsequently, the President- General, Chief Nnia Nwodo commenced close affinity with him until last week when the Igbo parent body endorsed the PDP presidential candidate.
Okwukwu who was said to have participated in all the meetings where the endorsements took place, however, came out with a dissenting opinion to announce President Muhammadu Buhari as his own preferred presidential candidate. Okwukwu went the extra mile to say that his personal opinion was the decision of Ohanaeze and urged the public to disregard the Imeobi decision on Atiku Abubakar.
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Angered by the development, Ohanaeze summoned an emergency National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in its secretariat on January 31st where Okwukwu allegedly stormed the venue with ‘truck load’ of policemen.
South-East Voice learnt the meeting was cacophonous but in the midst of the tension, Okwukwu was suspended and asked to retract his assault on the collective decision of Ndigbo and publish same in the national media channels.
Ohanaeze NEC alleged that Okwukwu at various venues engaged in false representation of the decision of both Ohanaeze NEC and Imeobi, noting also that Okwukwu arrogated to himself power, over other organs of Ohanaeze by altering positions purportedly taken by the organs which the NEC said are patently and obviously false.
National Publicity Secretary of the Igbo body, Uche Achi-Okpaga said Okuwkwu’s actions were discussed in the NEC emergency meeting in Enugu that January 31st and the meeting resolved to suspend him from office as Secretary-General and membership of all organs of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Achi-Okpaga noted that Okwukwu attended the meeting and denied all the allegations against him but was given seven days to publicly retract and publish same in the mass media, failure of which the matter will be referred to a disciplinary committee.
Okwukwu, however, flayed the NEC decision and said that “Nwodo is on rampage.” Okwukwu went further to state that “NEC doesn’t have powers to suspend an elected officer under Ohanaeze constitution. He quoted Article 14 of Ohanaeze constitution which interpreted, confers on him the sole power to convene Ohanaeze meetings. “Nwodo has no power to convene any meeting,” he stated.
Okwukwu challenged the President-General to show evidence of a communiqué drafting committee that endorsed Atiku Abubakar for Ndigbo. He also denied invading Ohanaeze secretariat with truck-load of policemen, arguing that same police details that Nwodo has is what he also has.
Next was Okwukwu’s announcement that he has suspended Nwodo. Okwukwu said a nine-man panel has been set up headed by Prince Richard Ozobu to investigate Nwodo for alleged misconduct and abuse of office.
Okwukwu said: “The President- General said that I have been suspended for seven days because of my stand on the falsehood he made public saying that the Ohanaeze has endorsed Atiku Abubakar which you know that we never endorsed anybody.
“Today (Friday), rising from the meeting of Ime-Obi Ohanaeze Ndigbo, we announce the suspension of Chief John Nwodo from the organisation indefinitely.
To that effect, a nine-man panel has been set up headed by Mr. Richard Ozobu to investigate acts of misconduct and abuse of office as well as bringing Ohanaeze to public disgrace. The body has one month to submit their report to the organization and we take it from there.”