–      We’ll reply in due course – Diwe

The dissolution of the Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Town Unions by the Imo State government was to adhere to President Buhari’s directive.

Governor Hope Uzodinma gave this explanation in a press release dated 27th July, 2020, issued by his Chief Press Secretary and Special Adviser (Media), Oguwuike Nwachukwu.

The release stated that, Governor Uzodinma while addressing a gathering of traditional rulers in Owerri, said, the idea of dissolving the state council of traditional rulers and inaugurating the Council of Traditional Institution and Community Policing was conceived and initiated by the federal government.

According to the release, “the Community Policing initiative, is a comprehensive programme, aimed at ensuring that crimes and criminal activities are uprooted and nipped in the bud, from the grassroots to the ward, state and federal levels. Hence the need to involve traditional rulers, who, with ample knowledge of their terrain, will ensure the appointment of credible indigenes with impeccable track records to man it’s operations”.

The release further stated that the Buhari led federal government believes that the initiative will be successfully implemented, if credible, suitable and reliable indigenes who are conversant with the security challenges of their communities are appointed to take control under the supervision of the Nigeria police force.

The Governor, also charged the monarchs, as Chief Security Officers of their various communities, to ensure that only people of proven integrity are entrusted with the responsibility, as they will be held responsible for ineptitude, dereliction of duty, official misconduct or abuse of office by any of the appointees.

Governor Uzodinma enjoined traditional rulers to accept responsibility as Chief Security Officers of their communities and liaise with stakeholders to conduct transparent and hitch free town union elections that will guarantee the emergence of credible men and women as Town Union Presidents of their various communities, in line with government’s directive.

“The traditional rulers and Presidents General of communities, will be held responsible for security lapses, breaches or failure of this well articulated and packaged initiative that is aimed at addressing and eliminating issues of rape, banditry, burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping, etc in our society”.

The Governor in a bid to motivate the monarchs to take their assignments serious, promised them an enhanced welfare package that will be commensurate with their status, as revered royal fathers and custodians of culture and tradition.

He also frowned at the idea of traditional rulers living outside their communities, stressing that the practice will no longer be tolerated. “Traditional rulers, should henceforth, reside in their communities, as the era of Diaspora Ezes is gone. Any monarch who is found wanting in the performance of his duty or assigned responsibility will be sanctioned”.

Throwing light on the fate of the dissolved Eze Imo Council, the release stated that, “when the Covid-19 pandemic induced challenges abate, the Governor will, after due consultation with stakeholders of the traditional institution, reconstitute the body. However, the dissolution of C.G.C and repeal of it’s enabling law, was done in good fate for the benefit and overall interest of Imo people”.

He emphasized the need for peace, harmony and mutual co-existence among the traditional rulers, stressing that the new council, when put in place “will be for the benefit and satisfaction of all concerned”.

Some of the monarchs present at the occasion thanked the Governor for his focused and purposeful leadership and for making time to exchange ideas with them. They pledged solidarity and promised to partner with government to enhance security of lives and property in their various communities.

Some dignitaries present at the meeting include, the Deputy Governor; Prof Placid Njoku, Speaker; Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon (Dr) Chiji Collins, members of the State Executive Council and all traditional rulers from the three senatorial zones in the state.

When contacted, Chief Emeka Diwe, Nstional President of Association of South East Town Unions, the apex umbrella body of all Town Union Presidents in the entire South East Geopolitical Zone, said they are still studying the situation and will reply in due course.

Asked, if the Governor has the power to sack elected Town Union Presidents, he said, “we will respond to that at the appropriate time”.