• Says “I Didn’t Suspend Them
Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has directed the forty traditional Rulers in the state who took him and the government to court over their suspension by the state council of traditional rulers to withdraw the suit without further delay.
The governor also ordered the monarchs to also tender an apology because their action was an insult and embarrass to him and his government.
About 40 monarchs out of the 50 listed to be tried in a panel set up by the state Council of Traditional Rulers over their alleged involvement in hosting the visit of the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, at the council’s office complex in the state, shortly before the general elections had dragged Governor Okorocha and his aides to court.
The 50 monarchs, aside the four earlier suspended, were accused by the state government of participating and aligning themselves with the embattled Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, who has been reinstated by the court as the Chairman of the state chapter of the Traditional Rulers Council, during Jonathan’s visit to the state.
Subsequently, the Imo State government- recognized Chairman of the Council, Eze Sam Ohiri, announced the Deputy Chairman of the council in the state, Eze Chidube Okoro, as the Chairman of the panel to investigate the monarchs. Not satisfied, as they suspected punitive measures awaiting them, the monarchs who suspected the governor of having hands in the directive, headed to the courts to challenge the action.
But, speaking while meeting with all the traditional rulers in the state, Okorocha directed the monarchs to withdraw the case and render unreserved apology. The governor said for the forty traditional Rulers to have gone to court against him and the government for no tenable, tangible and justifiable reason, meant they must have mistaken his patience, tolerance and respect for the people of the state as weakness.
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The governor said the traditional rulers were out to deliberately malign him and his government because he never suspended the forty traditional rulers nor sacked even any of them as Eze, and had not taken any action that suggested that he had any plan to go against the traditional rulers and then questioned the rationale behind the traditional rulers taking him to court.
Okorocha explained that the State Council of Traditional Rulers led by HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri did not have the right to suspend or remove any Eze from his stool. He added that it is only himself that had the right and he had never exercised such right against the traditional rulers in question.
The governor explained that the leadership of the traditional Rulers council only suspended four of their members from the Council and not as Ezes as to begin to suspect that they acted on behalf of the governor or the government. He recalled that he also went as far as going to the media to disassociate himself from the suspension of the four Ezes from the Ezes’ Council.