Gifting President Buhari a Traditional Title in Igboland is ‘Wayward’, Lacks Merit - HURIWA
By Ed Malik, A | |
posted February 15, 2023

Prominent civil Rights Advocacy Group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described as ‘wayward’ and without ‘popular legitimacy’ in Igboland, the traditional title of ‘Nwanne di Namba’ purportedly bestowed on the visiting President Muhammadu Buhari in Owerri, Imo State.

HURIWA said the traditional title said to have been conferred by the so-called Imo traditional Council is absolutely illegitimate because one traditional ruler masquerading as Eze Imo can not usurp the popular will of over five thousand autonomous communities with their traditional institutions.

“There is no Eze like ‘Eze Imo’ under the customary law since every autonomous community is headed by both an elected or recognized traditional ruler alongside the Community development associations who are elected by bonafide members of such communities. Imo State being the heartland of Igboland is also egalitarian.

Describing any chieftaincy certificate presented to President Muhammadu Buhari as ‘Nwanne di namba’ purportedly issued on behalf of the entire Imo traditional institutions is at best an “Oluwole Chieftaincy certificate,” since there is no single individual who presides over as the sole traditional keeper of all the communities of Imo State.

Besides, HURIWA stated that there was never any referendum in the entire Imo Communities to confer legitimacy to such a traditional title given in the name of the entire Communities and traditional institutions of Imo State.

The rights group criticized the politicization of traditional chieftaincy awards describing it as sacrilegious just as described as irregular such an award to President Muhammadu Buhari whose action in abducting from Nairobi Kenya of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu the leader of the now proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra and consequently creating a tensed and intensive atmosphere of insecurity and mass killings by fringe groups purporting to be protesting the continuous detention of the IPOB leader by the DSS.

HURIWA asks thus: How can President Muhammadu Buhari who is directly responsible for the uprising, insurgency, and harvests of deaths of innocent Igbo people in Igboland deserve any traditional awards from Imo State?”

HURIWA recalled that the media is awash with a ridiculous story that the self-styled Imo Traditional Council on Tuesday in Owerri honored President Muhammadu Buhari with a traditional title, ‘Nwanne di Namba, (meaning a brother in Diaspora) title.

According to a statement by the president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, the Council appreciated the Nigerian leader for the love shown to the South East, and sustained legacy of promoting peace and harmony in the country.

Buhari thanked Eze Imo, and Dr. Emmanuel Okeke, for the recognition, assuring that he will continue to demonstrate his love for the South East and its citizens.

“I thank you so much for this honor that I will continue to remember for the rest of my life. Thank you for getting all the senior citizens to receive us.

“We have experienced difficult times as a country and discovered that it is better to carry on together,” he said.

Buhari noted the value of a shared national vision that enhances cohesion, urging more harmony across the state and national levels as “good neighbours”, President Muhammadu Buhari was quoted as saying.

HURIWA however described the occasion and conferment of such a phantom award in the name of Imo State citizens as a fraud, further stating that the actions and inactions of President Muhammadu Buhari have caused pangs of pains and an unprecedented harvest of deaths particularly in Imo State as a result of the military crackdown he the President had ordered which has so far resulted in hundreds of unlawful killings of youths under the guise that the security forces are after members of the Indigenous People of Biafra.

HURIWA recalled that Amnesty International had reported recently that the Nigerian security forces have committed a catalogue of human rights violations and crimes under international law in their response to spiralling violence in Southeast Nigeria, carrying out a repressive campaign since January which has included sweeping mass arrests, excessive and unlawful force, and torture and other ill-treatment, said Amnesty International.

“The evidence gathered by Amnesty International paints a damning picture of ruthless excessive force by Nigerian security forces in Imo, Anambra, and Abia states,” said Osai Ojigho, Country Director at Amnesty International.

Nigeria’s government has responded with a heavy hand to killings and violence widely attributed to the armed group calling itself Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a pro-Biafra movement. According to government officials, the ESN killed dozens of security operatives and attacked at least ten public buildings, including prisons and police stations, from January to June. In response, security forces comprising military, police, and Department of State Services (DSS) have killed dozens of gunmen, as well as civilians, where attacks have been committed.

Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that the security forces have engaged in excessive use of force, physical abuse, secret detentions, extortion, burning of houses, theft, and extrajudicial executions of suspects. Human rights groups estimated that the death toll of violence between January and June 2021 in Anambra, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyi states might run into the hundreds. The police said ESN fighters killed 21 of its personnel in Imo state alone.

Amnesty International carried out an extensive investigation to document the human rights violations and crimes under international law in Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, and Abia states from January 2021. The organization documented 52 incidents of unlawful killings and 62 cases of arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, and torture. Media reports, video, and audio recordings reviewed show that the Nigerian security forces also employed excessive force and other unlawful means to address the rising violence.

Spiraling violence

From January 2021, gunmen suspected to be ESN militants launched a series of attacks on government infrastructure, including prisons and public buildings, killing several police officers. Amnesty International condemned these attacks and called on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

HURIWA then wondered if the traditional ruler fronting as Eze Imo does not live in Nigeria not to be aware of the deaths occasioned by military and police actions against perceived members of IPOB in Imo State. HURIWA described the profanity of the Imo State government officials dancing in the graves of innocent people killed by security agents as bewildering and lugubrious.

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