The crisis rocking Igbo apex socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, worsened Friday with the President General, Nnia Nwodo and the Secretary-General, Uche Okwukwu, engaging in claims and counter-claims over who suspended the other for working against the interest of the group.
The Publicity Secretary of the body, Uche Okpaga on Thursday announced the suspension of Okwukwu as the Secretary-General but Okwukwu, in a telephone interview said the National Executive Committee suspended Nwodo and immediately set up a panel of enquiry to investigate him.
Digging into the genesis of the crisis, Okwukwu said: “On January 24, a purported Imeobi was held with no governor, no National Assembly member, no local government chairman or counsellor, no deputy governor and no former governor either military or civilian in attendance. There was equally no first, second or third class traditional ruler in attendance except Okwy Nwodo and his brother.
“They purportedly claimed that they had adopted Atiku and released a communiqué which was not subject to ratification by Imeobi. Then the General Assembly which is the organ that you and I can come and participate in and ratify a major issue of that nature was not given a copy of the communiqué. When I was called by journalists on the matter, I said there was no communiqué and there was actually no communiqué.
“On Thursday, he (Nwodo) claimed that he had suspended me. Members of the NEC too on the other side suspended him and appointed immediately a panel of enquiry headed by Prince Richard Ozobu, to investigate him and report to the General Assembly within one month.”
Enumerating the allegations against Nwodo, Okwukwu said ”1. That he violated the constitution; 2. he unilaterally adopted a candidate without subjecting it to the general assembly’s approval; 3. misappropriation and misapplication of funds accruing to Ohanaeze; 4 for intimidation, high handedness betraying the constitution of Ohanaeze itself. “Richard has accepted the appointment and they are writing him to submit himself for hearing. If he is found guilty, he will be punished and if he is not, he will be completely acquitted. “It is unfair on Ndigbo to adopt a candidate without subjecting the decision to general assembly’s approval.
Individuals in Igboland can support any candidate but when you use the platform of Ohanaeze, you must bring it to the general assembly.”
However, in a separate telephone interview, Nwodo, dismissed Okwukwu’s claims, saying that 21 of the top executive members of the body suspended Okwukwu. “We gave him a number of queries because he went to press and misrepresented the decisions of the National Executive Council as well as the Imeobi.
“He even claimed the meeting didn’t hold when he was the one that took all the minutes. He denied that he made those statements to the press and we had to give him seven days to make public disclaimer of those statements if he didn’t say them and that he will be suspended for seven days until he made the disclaimer and after the disclaimer, he could return to his job. We said if he refused to make the disclaimer, he would be referred to the disciplinary committee.
“Okwukwu is on his own. He is just a political jobber who is looking for a master to pay him and eclipse our own interest. He is just one person and I don’t give a damn.”
Responding to the allegation that he was to face panel of inquiry, Nwodo said: “Who is he to set up a panel? He is alone. He doesn’t have any member of the executive or board with him.”
* The Nation