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Tension as dethroned Anambra monarch refuses to leave

There was tension in Alor Community, in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State, following the alleged refusal of the monarch, Anthony Okonkwo, to vacate office after his sacking by a state High Court.

Alor community is the hometown of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

The Administrative Judge of the Anambra High Court, Ogidi Judicial Division, Justice Pete Obiorah, had, in February 2022, dethroned the monarch.

Since his dethronement, Okonkwo has allegedly refused to vacate the throne, five months after, prompting the community to slam a notice of consequences of disobedience of court order (Form 48), based on the judgement of the court.

Already, the Alor community has elected another ruler, Igwe Collins Chukwumesili, as its new monarch, while waiting for his recognition from the government.

As a result of this, the youths of the community had threatened disturbances, if the dethroned monarch failed to vacate the office with immediate effect.

The President-General of Alor Peoples Convention, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa, who filed the Form 48, averred that the contemnor, Okonkwo, had continued to parade himself as the Igwe of Alor community, in breach of the subsisting court order/judgement.

Igbonwa maintained that a new monarch had been elected by the community, in the person of Ebelechukwu Chukwumesili.

He said the contemnor, Okonkwo, had continued to parade himself as the Igwe of Alor community, in breach of the subsisting court order/judgement.

Igbonwa gave an instance where Okonkwo returned from abroad recently and on arrival at the Anambra International Passenger and Cargo Airport, Umueri, mounted a show of shame by addressing few rented individuals as Igwe of Alor.

He explained that the dethroned monarch told the gathering that he was still the Igwe of Alor because he filed an appeal against his dethronement, adding that he also filed a stay of execution.

Igbonwa argued that, even if Okonkwo filed a stay of execution, which had not yet been determined, his actions so far indicated that he had been acting in breach of the court order, hence the Form 48.

In Suit No. HID/354/2019, the plaintiffs, Frank Okoye, Ifenna Okafor and Igwe Mac-Anthony Okonkwo, were seeking the court’s protection and stoppage of the defendants, Incorporated Trustees of Alor Peoples Assembly, APA and Chief Uzoma Igbonwa, from dethroning him as the Igwe of Alor.

But Justice Obiorah rather dethroned Okonkwo in his 17-paragraph judgement order.

According to Justice Obiorah in paragraph 14 of the judgment, “I grant an order that the certificate of recognition issued to Okonkwo as Igwe of Alor by the state government on June 23, 2014, is in breach of the Constitution of Alor Peoples Convention, then in force and Anambra State Government Traditional Rulers Law, 2007.”

In paragraph 15 , “I grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining Okonkwo from further parading himself as the Igwe of Alor, carrying on any function(s) and/or duties of Igwe of Alor, occupying or using the palace of Obi Eze-Agbudugbu and generally from intermeddling in the various customs and practices, as well as administrative affairs of Alor town.”

But one of the leaders of the community and the President-General, Mr Christian Okudo, on Friday, insisted that Okonkwo remained the traditional ruler of the community.

Okudo said the judgement had been appealed by the dethroned monarch, through his Counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, at the appeal Court in Awka.

“They should wait for the appeal. The status quo should be maintained for now, until after the appeal,” Okudo said.

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