FCT Ohanaeze leadership crises: Court didn’t annul our election – Arua

Contrary to information making the rounds, the Barr. Onwu O. Arua-led Ohanaeze Ndigbo FCT Chapter, has said that the FCT High Court, Jabi, presided over by Justice O. C. Agbaza, at no time annulled the election that brought the executive committee of Ohanaeze NdiIgbo to power  nor ordered for conduct of fresh  election.

Giving insight into what led to the crises and various  efforts made to address the situation by various bodies including the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, the embattled President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo FCT Chapter, Barr Onwu O. Arua, in a press statement, Sunday in Abuja, noted that: “Justice Agbaza never made orders disturbing the status of the elected executives, nor did he order the holding of elections of any type.”

According to him, “It was embarrassing that some people went to town claiming deceitfully that the Judge ordered a group to conduct elections within 21 days from date of delivery of the judgment.”

Chief John Ogbuu, who leads a faction of the socio-cultural group and claims to be a member of  executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo FCT, had sued the immediate past President-General  of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, for aggedly illegally dissolving the executive committee of Abuja Chapter and constituting a Caretaker Committee headed by Chief Simon N. Okeke (Ochendo) to oversee her affairs and conduct elections.

However, Barr Arua opined that Justice Agbaza in his ruling/judgment failed to recognise the supervisory role of Ohanaeze National Headquarters over all branches and chapters of the organisation.
“The learned High Court Judge convinced himself that President-General Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, (as he then was) has no legal powers to constitute a caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of branches in crises,” he noted.

Barr Arua further explained that in the heat of the crises that engulfed the body, a caretaker committee headed by Chief Simon N. Okeke, which had  prominent Igbo leaders including past governors, ministers, ambassadors, captains of Industries, representatives of traditional council among others was set up to oversee the affairs of the body in FCT and conduct an election to its executive body.

He further disclosed that, “In August 23, 2015, elections into the executive committee of Ohanaeze Ndigbo FCT Chapter was held, and Mr. Odozi Nwodozi (Delta – Anioma) was elected President.
“Strangely, HRH Eze Nwosu Ibe (Igbo 1) backed him and mobilised great support for him, in place of a retired Foreign Affairs career civil servant, Ambassador Val. Ogosi, who was then Deputy Chairman (President). This was in spite of warnings that the young man will destroy Nd’Igbo in FCT.”
The FCT President of Ohanaeze further stated that, “a year after the election, crises upon crises set in and Mr. Nwodozi in collaboration with ambitious sponsors spearheaded the attempted dethronement of Eze Igbo Abuja (HRH Eze Nwosu Ibe).  
“While that was brewing, there were other accusations leveled against Mr. Nwodozi by the Elders Council (Abuja version of Ime Obi), the advisory organ of Ohanaeze involved in dispute resolutions. He was found guilty of gross misconduct and inappropriate management of the affairs of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Abuja. 
“Mr. Nwodozi was suspended from office as President Ohanaeze FCT, in the month of May 2018. This suspension was communicated to the immediate past President General, Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo World Wide, as the controlling Authority.  Members of the Ohanaeze Executives also found him guilty of other infractions and had him removed from office.

“Unfortunately, effective steps were not taken to address the situation in spite of evidence of looming crises.  Nwodozi defiantly continued to parade himself as the President of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Abuja, FCT with a few belligerent followers backed by one of the Chiefs of Ndigbo.

“The tenure of Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Executive Committee, Abuja, which was elected for a four-year term with effect from August 23, 2015, effectively ended on 23, August, 2019, but Nwodozi and a few members of his group refused to relinquish power.
“They claimed to have amended Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo FCT Constitution 2004, christening it ‘Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo Bye-Law 2019 as Amended.’ On August 23, 2019, they claimed to have passed a resolution in a meeting extending their tenure by one year six months, which is even in violation of their so called Bye-Law 2019 as amended.”

He noted that to douse the tension generated by the crises in the association, the President-General between of 0ctober 8 and 9, 2019, invited all the feuding members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Abuja to Enugu, including those from the camps of Igbo One and Dr. Eze Uche Egenti to listen to his position.
“It was during this meeting that the President-General informed all that the tenure of Mr. Nwodozi (though illegally being occupied by him) had ended since August 23, 2019.  It was in the same meeting that he informed all that he was setting up a Caretaker Committee to run Abuja chapter and conduct elections,” he said.

Continuing, he said the result of that proclamation by the President-General of Ohanaeze led to the emergence of Chief Simon N. Okeke as the caretaker committee chairman with other prominent Igbo personalities.

However, it was learnt that Mr. Nwodozi, with the prompting of his supporters, rejected the formation of the Caretaker Committee and continued to parade themselves as Executives of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Abuja. 

“The climax was when they learned that Chief Simon N. Okeke-led Caretaker Committee was scheduled to hold an election to enthrone the executive,” the president stated.

Barr Arua claimed that the constitution of the caretaker committee by the national body of Ohanaeze, prompted  Mr Nwodozi and his cohosts to approach the court, “claiming that they were still in power; that they extended their tenure by one year and six months with effect from August 23, 2019. 

“They claimed that there is nothing like Caretaker Committee contained in their Concocted Bye-law contrived mainly for the suit.  Even though, in the so called Bye-law, they contrived, there is no provision for tenure elongation.
“There is a provision for the appointment of a Caretaker Committee to take over and conduct elections in the event that elections could not be held on the due season or date. (Article 15 (d)(19),” he further stated.

The FCT Ohanaeze President assured Igbos in Abuja and beyond that his administration respects constituted authorities and will not tolerate lawlessness of any kind and would not permit “our administration to be subverted by a disgruntled, ambitious, or radical minority.
“We want to maintain that time honoured democratic principle of duly elected executives by Nd’Igbo serving out their offices without violent interference by those who disagree or are impervious to peaceful change.”

He added that, “Though disagreement and dissent are, of course, in the great tradition of a democracy world over; but a subterranean and clandestine attempt to take over power from a democratically elected executives, is repugnant to me, as it is to every civilized mind.”