The controversy surrounding the health and whereabouts of the traditional ruler of Afaraukwu Ibeku, Eze Israel Okiru Kanu, and father of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is yet to settle.
The monarch has not been seen since September 14, 2017, when soldiers invaded his palace in search of his son.
While the chairman of Abia State and South-East Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, Eze Eberechi Dick, said that Eze Kanu is alive, the chairman of Umuahia North Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Philip Ajomiwe, insisted that the whereabouts of IPOB’s leader’s father are unknown, adding that nobody knows the state of his health too.
Since the invasion of the palace apparently in search of the leader of the IPOB last year, neither the monarch, his son nor wife had been seen nor heard from. Eze Dick who spoke to Saturday Telegraph on the telephone regarding the whereabouts of his colleague said: “We wanted to see him in person; we inquired and found that he is alive.”
However, the traditional ruler of Oriendu, Eze Ajomiwe, who said the last time he spoke with him was early on the day of the invasion, also revealed that the army had scheduled a meeting with Eze Kanu to which he had already agreed before his palace was invaded on that fateful day.
“After speaking with him the army invaded the place later that day and that was the last till today,” he said. According to the chairman of Abia and South East Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Dick, “Eze Kanu told us that the stress of the operation was too much on him that he decided to rest.”
Eze Dick however observed that: “The local government traditional rulers council where he belongs has not told us he is missing. They have not told us anything happened to him, otherwise we would have raised the alarm at the state and south east zonal council of traditional rulers.”
The council chairman said that Eze Kanu spoke to the chairman of the advisory council of Umuahia North council of traditional rulers, who happens to be Eze Ajomiwe, about his health in response to the inquiry. Though he said that the Afaraukwu monarch was alive he however admitted that the monarch’s whereabouts are not known. He could not say where he was taking the rest.
He also reaffirmed the position of the traditional rulers over their colleague. “We don’t dabble into the problem of the son, but only about our colleague. Our traditional ruler is dear to us, whatever the son is doing with the Federal Government is not our concern. His son is a man and should be held responsible for his actions.” But Eze Ajomiwe, said that the last time he spoke with Eze Kanu was the day of the invasion.
“The last time I spoke with Eze I. O Kanu was on the day of the invasion. I spoke with him earlier that day to discuss the decision of the traditional rulers who sent me to invite him to a meeting.”
According to Eze Ajomiwe, he was sent by the chairman of the Abia and South East Council of Traditional Rulers as the chairman of the Umuahia North Council of traditional rulers under which Eze Kanu operates, to Eze Kanu for a meeting with the governor and the Commanding Officer of Ohafia Brigade.
“When I spoke with him he said he was ready to abide by the position of the traditional rulers. Unfortunately, before the day of the meeting the army struck and since then I have neither heard from him nor spoken to him.”
He confirmed that a number of people were killed during the invasion but could not say whether the monarch, his wife and son were among the dead. He said he reported to the traditional rulers his discussion with Eze Kanu and his response on the day of their meeting but that was after the army had gone to destroy the place.
Eze Ajomiwe said that all the efforts made as Eze Kanu’s colleagues in Umuahia North Council as to his whereabouts and health had not yielded the desired result even as the army has refused to say anything.
“As I am speaking to you I don’t know where he is. We have appealed to the army to tell us. If he is in their custody they should let us know, if he is dead they should release his corpse to us. It’s only in Nigeria this kind of thing can happen. I lived in the French capital for 15 years, you hardly see the army on the streets as you have in Nigeria. It’s only in Nigeria that somebody can be sent to do what is against the law.
How can the army send me to Eze Kanu only to invade his palace before the day of the proposed meeting? Why did they send me if they knew they would invade the palace? A traditional ruler of my reputation and honour.”
Eze Ajomiwe said Nigeria needs prayer of deliverance just like the Esther in the Bible fasted and prayed against the destruction of Mordecai and the Jews by Herman. He said the army should be held responsible for the health and whereabouts of the traditional ruler. “Nigeria is in a dilemma; Nigeria needs prayer of deliverance,” he said.
The Umuahia North traditional rulers’ council chairman expressed disappointment with the turn of events. “Now look at what they are doing to Eyinnaya Abaribe, (who stood as one of the sureties for the IPOB leader), asking him to produce Nnamdi Kanu. What kind of country is this? They knew that Kanu would come to court and they would do to him what they wanted yet they invaded the palace and turned around to ask Abaribe to produce him, this is unthinkable.”
On the efforts being made to know the condition of their colleague, Eze Ajomiwe said: “As traditional rulers we can’t fight the army. We don’t have AK 47, but we have appealed and are still appealing to them to tell us the whereabouts of Eze Kanu.
They are in the position to know.” Eze Eddy Ibeabuchi, the traditional ruler of Okwulaga Afaraukwu and the immediate past chairman of Umuahia North Council of traditional rulers, Eze Kanu’s neighbour, corroborated Eze Ajomiwe’s position. He said efforts made so far to know the whereabouts and health status of the traditional ruler had not yielded positive result.
He disclosed that the efforts made so far by the people of Afaraukwu over the monarch’s health and whereabouts have failed but they have not given up. Also, like Eze Dick, Eze Ibeabuchi could not find any connection between the disappearance of the traditional ruler and the activities of the group which his son led.
“We are making effort, we have written an open letter and communique to Mr President, written and published by Afaraukwu concerned citizens and I know I signed that communique. And we don’t really know where our king is and we don’t know what the Federal Government is doing because we know Nnamdi Kanu is our son. I was watching him when he was carrying on with IPOB and I never saw him one day with arms. Generally, the constitution allows people to express their feelings and that was what I saw Nnamdi Kanu doing.”
“The way the Federal Government handled the matter, as far as I am concerned, was not quite good. Moreover, he was on bail, if the Federal Government wanted to do anything they would have allowed him to come to the court, probably, they had one reason or the other not to grant him bail, not to come and kill so many people in that place. They killed so many people there. I know. I went to that compound after the episode and I saw where so many people were killed and you cannot say where the corpses are today.”
Eze Ibeabuchi said: “As for the state of his health, we don’t know. I don’t know, if I know I will tell you. The question should be asked from the army that invaded that place, they should tell us the whereabouts of that man. If the man is hiding, I don’t know, I have not seen him since that time. We have written an open letter to the president which was published by so many newspapers requesting to know the whereabouts of Kanu himself and the father and mother. We don’t know their whereabouts.”
He lamented that there had been “no response from any quarters till today.” “We have not given up, we are consulting. We want to approach the state governor because that’s the chief security officer here.
We are making effort to approach him, I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome though we have booked appointment with him several times; probably he has been very busy. He has not granted us the appointment, so we are still waiting. I know if we meet him, definitely that’s one of the things we are going to confront him with, he should tell us.”
Eze Ajomiwe added that he as the chairman of Umuahia North Council of traditional rulers, comprising traditional rulers from Ibeku and Ohuhu clans, he led them to the palace of Eze Kanu after the invasion to demand his release from the army either dead or alive. “The media even helped us to publish the demands contained in the communique.”