Ikwo Council Chairman Gives Insight On Why He Suspended ECDA Executives

By Our Reporter, Abakaliki

The Chairman of Ikwo Local Government Area, Barr Sunday Nwankwo said, contrary to the baseless, false and unfounded allegations been pedled the suspended Leadership of Ekawoke Community Development Association (ECDA) their suspension was done following a security report against them and to also avert looming crises in the community occasioned by illegal mining activities and other sundry issues.

Barr Nwankwo stated this on Sunday, while reacting to some issues raised by the suspended Executive. He noted that the issues are before the security agencies and should be allowed to do their job.

The Chairman said:
"In the build up to 2023 general election, we had security reports on Ekawoke and that led to loss of lives at that time, even though everything was attributed to politics  but we opened our eyes and said, when such thing happen again, we will need to deploy effort appropriately and timeously to be sure that as much as we can to stop loss of life. And so, along the line again, we began to get reports on Ekawoke again, arms movement, and don't forget that there's this Edukwu Imota .where they said IPOB people use to have their anchor. So, when we do things, we are not doing it looking at anybody , we are doing it looking at the safety of the entire society. So, when the report began to come again about arms movement, I even called the councilor, and I said councilor, you're the chief security  of that place, please snif around, talk to me to know what to do regarding that. Well, he handled it to the extent he could, but if you listen to him, you could see that he has things to say, which he is not saying the way he ought to say it, at times he would say, the president is intimidating me , such kind of allegation, and instead of bringing him to begin to subject him to what he don't want, I decided to allow security agencies to do their job. Along the line also, we also learned that mining issues is beginning to cause crises or create a situation of looming crises because, I even heard from the meeting we had that it has got to the level where people impersonating people, giving signatures in the name of mining, you find a mining site around my house, because am an illiterate or you think you can manipulate me, somebody goes to sign for me and said I have given consent. History tells me, sometime in 1986 that in that same Community, a certain prominent man, now late, brought people, minners and it almost inflamed the community. When you have history at your disposal, you don't swallow it, you work to avoid the reputation of certain things. Now, even the councilor reported to me that the said former president recruited four boys each from the Villages who are working for him as minners, but each time you ask him, he will deny everything about it. I can't be here and be there. It is only the security agencies that will take time and unveil what is happening. I was also confronted with certain security report and you see, as a leader, there are things I wouldn't be able to bring to the public domain. There are things you're told on trust and in confidence. It is for you to dissect it and then, use it in relation to circumstances you find yourself. So, it was not my business to begin to disclose where because, those segment of the society will also invite him for certain explanation because when you are told of certain security report, it is not good to begin to come and say this person or bring the paper and say this is it, that is not what it is meant for. What I could do at the moment was to suspend them like i did, because for me, it is better to get through with the process. If they are giving a clean bill of health, we are all here. What we have there is an interim arrangements to keep the place going. I also understand that there are also some traditional differences. A certain Village rising in history and saying look, we will not be part of this place again. We are the senior to the other village, it doesn't happen. These things are things that is given, when you come to a community, there are village a, b, c. I expect that people there will come up, there's a place we called 'Unweka', they go there, get traditionalist to speak to the situation so that they wouldn't be conflict within them. So, all these and more  of the issues that led to my saying, let them step aside to give room for proper investigation". 

On the alleged interference with the selection and show of interest on who becomes their traditional ruler, the Chairman has this to say.
"I can tell you that, that allegation is not correct. But you see, people must find something to hold on to. You see, I have never asked them how they are doing it. And if you check, it is under my watch in my administration that Ikwo has produced the highest number of Eze elect, check your history. And then go back in time, I contribute to resolve preliminary issues each time they want to rise because, as for me, the people must bring out those they want to represent them, I cannot be Chairman and be Eze, as a matter of fact, there's no body there that is close to me who is interested in It because it is the people who will zone it. They had pattern of zoning. Usually, when we go to some places that almost had issues in the course of their own, what they did was to say, let seniority take the Center stage and everything ended. You cannot suddenly say that the man that is senior is junior or junior is senior for the purpose of bringing an Eze, so how does that work".

The Chairman expressed his readiness to reinstate the suspended Executive, if they are given clean bill of health by the investigating security agencies.

"Yes, if they have clean bill of health, why not. I have been meeting with their stakeholders and they are giving me their support because, they too know that what is happening there is like a time bomb. If check every where they are mining exercise, each time they are dissarmerment, the next you see is arms begin to flow. You begin to ask yourself, where are these arms coming from. There's even allegations that some people they are inviting to come in, also brought in arms there. everybody wants to be the one calling the shots in there. These are the things I want the community to sit back. They have good physicians, they have good industrialists, professors. I have even approach some of them to say, put yourselves together let what this Community have work for the community. Let this resources be well handled. Let it become something that will cause crises tomorrow. Check your records about where mining exercise is happening, you will see what goes on there".

Nwankwo explained that prior to the suspension, he met with the leaders of the Association and a prominent professor from the area and discussed the issues to them before suspension.

'I met with the leader of  the group. We spoke, one other prominent professor was there. A man who said, he knows nothing about what is called mining is being alleged to have recruited some boys per village to be handling that for him. Now, he tells you I didn't do that, will you impose on him that he did it. I think the best thing to do now, is to allow security agencies to give them clean bill of health. If tomorrow somebody says to me chairman, when you heard all these, what did you do, I will say investigation was done and they were cleared and that was why I asked them to come back and continue his work, he concluded.'.

The council Chairman however,  urge the people to always follow due process in order to achieve a lasting peace.

Recall that Barr Sunday Nwankwo on Friday, 5th of April,2023 suspended the elected Executive of Ekawoke Community Development Association led Dr Irem Collins Okechukwu and appointing a caretaker Executive led by Mr Ewa Nworie, an action which did not go down well with the Exco, warranting to accusation and counter accusations.

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