Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has slammed businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, for allegedly casting aspersions on him over his position on the suspension of 12 traditional rulers by the state government.
Ngige had advised that the 12 traditional rulers suspended by the Anambra State Government be relocated from their communities to avert breach of peace. But Eze issued a statement last Sunday attacking Ngige on the matter.
The former state governor had called on the incumbent state Governor, Willie Obiano, to banish him (Eze) and the suspended traditional rulers.
The minister described Eze as ‘a fair weather politician’ who befriends “any government in power,” and uses his wealth to intimidate, oppress and brutalise the downtrodden people in Anambra State communities bordering his Ukpo hometown in his land grabbing spree.”
Obiano had sanctioned the 12 traditional rulers for travelling out of the state without clearance to accompany Eze to Aso Rock on what they tagged: ‘A thank you visit to the president’ for his infrastructural development in the South-east region and what he has done for Igbo people.
While reacting to Eze’s verbal attack on him, Ngige described it as unwarranted and indecorous, saying: “Arthur Eze is a fair weather politician, a political turncoat and an apostle and Commander-in-Chief of members of ‘any government in power (AGIP)’ in Nigeria.”
In a statement issued by his media office signed by Emmanuel Nzomiwu, the labour minister said as a former governor and elder of the state, he had only advised the state government to relocate the traditional rulers out of their domain for administrative and security reasons.
According to Ngige, “When officials of the government, and in this case, government certified traditional rulers, are suspended from office, they cease to perform the functions of the office and hence, they should not be allowed to be visiting or threatening those carrying out their functions by still visiting the office whether it is in the palace or elsewhere.
“Much more importantly, those suspended traditional rulers have started experiencing violent protests, demonstrations and calls for their outright dethronement in their respective communities of Abacha (Idemili North council area), Alor (Idemili South LGA), Aguleri Enugu Otu and Mkpu Nando-Otu Aguleri, both in Anambra East LGA as well as in many other places, thereby raising security concerns.”
The minister added: “These two reasons are very compelling and serious enough for the state government to relocate these persons, especially the one from Ngige’s community, Alor, who was never crowned by the community abinitio, but was imposed by the Anambra State Government of Peter Obi on the Alor community as a retaliation and punitive action for their loss of the 2011 senatorial election to Ngige, who defeated their candidate, the late Dora Akunyili, sponsored by the then state government.”
The statement noted further that “there is no time Ngige as a man of the rule of law asked for the banishment of Eze, an act which would have run against the tenets of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“But, this does not derogate from the fact that Ngige had said from the facts- video clips-in the media and in the public domain that Eze had engaged in an act of sabotage, against the government and people of Anambra State.
“Arthur Eze had sabotaged the state government by gathering a group of disgruntled persons, some gullible and even non recognised traditional rulers for ‘a thank you visit’ on behalf of the South-east region when in actual fact, no traditional ruler from Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia and Imo States was in his motley gathering of ‘Ezes’. The chairman of Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers was not there, same with the chairman of the South-east Council of Traditional Rulers. He also neither involved nor informed the South-east federal ministers, not to talk of those from Anambra State, even out of courtesy.”
Senator Ngige said he still stands by his earlier statement that the traditional rulers should be sanctioned and punished for the act of sabotage and of aiding and abetting those traditional rulers to travel out of their kingdom without appropriate clearance from the Anambra State Government, an action for which all of them have pleaded guilty and apologised to the governor.