Anambra Monarch Sues Gov Soludo for N50m Over Withdrawal of Chieftaincy Certificate

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The traditional ruler of Umuona community in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra state, Igwe Humphrey Ejesieme, has sued the State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, for N50 million as damages for the withdrawal of his chieftaincy certificate.

Igwe Ejesieme also dragged four others alongside the governor to the court.

The 2nd to 5th defendants in the case are Hon. Tony Collins Nwabunwanne, the state Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Community Affairs; Chief Kenneth Okoli, President-General, Umuona Progressive Union, UPU; Engr. Anthony Muobike, Secretary-General, UPU and Chief Sunday Christopher Ikechukwu Ezeofor.

Igwe Ejesieme, specifically, is demanding the N50 million as punitive and aggravated damages from the 2nd to 5th defendants for allegedly misleading Soludo, the 1st defendant into approving the withdrawal of Ejesieme’s certificate of recognition as the traditional ruler of Umuona.

In a statement which was reportedly filed on his behalf at Aguata High Court Registry by his legal counsel, Chief Ikenna Egbuna SAN, the plaintiff is also seeking a declaration of the court that the selection of the 5th defendant, Ezeofor as the Igwe of Umuona is null and void and of no effect.

The plaintiff is also requesting an order of the court compelling the 1st defendant, Soludo, to restore his Certificate of Recognition which was wrongly withdrawn by the state government, coupled with an injunction restraining the 1st defendant from granting a certificate of recognition to Ezeofor, the 5th defendant.

Igwe Ejesieme recalled that he was selected as the traditional ruler under the 1998 Constitution of Umuona community and presented to both the Aguata local and state governments which all recognized the choice of the community and then granted him a certificate of recognition.

He pointed out that a copy of the certificate of recognition granted him by former Governor Peter Obi in 2014 will be relied upon at the trial.

The monarch argued that a letter from the 2nd defendant with reference No. MLGCCA/HC/2022/T/025/78 dated June 13, 2023 which contained the withdrawal of his chieftaincy certificate by the state government was made to mislead the people of Umuona and the general public.

He declared that his alleged removal did not follow due process and is therefore null and void.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for hearing of the civil suit, but the 5th defendant, Ezeofor who is currently having the chieftaincy certificate of the state government as the incumbent traditional ruler of Umuona, teamed up with the 3rd defendant, Chief Kenneth Okoli, the factional President-General of UPU with eight others and filed an application for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights, dignity of human person, personal liberty, fair hearing and freedom of movement.

The fundamental human rights suit No. AG/MISC.129/2023 was filed against Ejesieme, the plaintiff in the N50 million civil suit, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, the Assistant Inspector-General, AIG in charge of Zone 13, Ukpo, Anambra state and the state Commissioner of Police, CP.

The applicants are seeking an injunction restraining the 2nd to 4th respondents, IGP, AIG and the CP or their agents, servants, officers and privies from further threat to arresting, detaining, harassing, intimidating or coercing them in any form in respect of the matter.

The applicants are equally seeking an order of the court directing the respondents to pay them N50 million jointly and severally for violating their fundamental rights and any such further order (s) as the court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

They also sought a declaration that the threat to arrest and their detention by the respondents was unconditional, null, void and above all a violation of their fundamental rights.

They added that the actual invitation extended to them to appear in Abuja Force CID and threat to arrest them on their failure to appear is a violation of their fundamental rights to liberty over a matter pending at the High Court in South No. AG/109/22 between Nze Fabian Ezeofor vs the first respondent, Igwe Enesieme and two others.

However, the police have arraigned Ejesieme before an Aguata Magistrate court sitting at Ekwulobia on a two-count charge of portraying himself as still the Igwe of Umuona and performing the traditional new yam (Iwa Ji) festival.

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