The rift between the Anambra State government and the state’s Traditional Rulers Council has taken a new turn, with the governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo saying the council, as presently constituted, is unknown to law.
At a meeting with the Royal Fathers in Awka, Soludo said a committee made up of five Traditional Rulers, plus officers of government, would urgently meet to consider the amendment of the relevant sections and any other section of the Traditional Rulers law deemed pertinent for a review.
He said that as soon as the law is amended, there shall be a meeting of Traditional Rulers for him to formally inaugurate the council so that it can function in strict compliance with the law.
Press secretary to the governor, Mr. Christian Aburime, who issued a statement after the meeting said: “Governor Soludo reiterated the purpose of the meeting which was to focus on the partnership of all stakeholders towards the execution of the Solution agenda for 2024.
“He elaborately briefed the Traditional Rulers of the major milestones of his administration in the past 22 months; and solicited their cooperation as stakeholders under the Public Private Community Partnership (PPCP), a strategy of his administration’s rapid development of Anambra State.
“In the course of the discussion that followed, it was observed that the body operating as the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council as constituted was unknown to the law as the state government has observed that the body was improperly constituted in violation of the provision of section 2 (F) of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers (Amendment) Law, 2020.
“In specific terms, that section provides that the Council shall be composed of the following persons to be appointed by the governor- a Chairman; two Deputy Chairmen; and one member from each local government area, provided that members appointed from a senatorial zone shall not exceed eleven.
“There are three senatorial zones and twenty one local governments in Anambra State. The above provision of the law therefore mandates that the Traditional Rulers Counhcil shall be constituted with not more than 36 members.
“The record of the state, however, shows that the body currently acting as the Traditional Rulers Council is composed of 52 persons in utter violation of the law, the implication of which is that the body is not the Traditional Rulers Council known to law. “To that extent, that body as presently constituted cannot make any valid decisions or function legally; and could not have done so in the light of the provisions of the law.
“Furthermore, section 30 of the Traditional Rulers Law 2007 and 2020 as amended provides that each member shall be appointed to the council for a term of four (4)years only and shall be eligible for appointment for another term of four years and for no further term.
“However, the state government has observed that most members of the said body as presently constituted have held their positions beyond the eight years limit in violation of the law.
“The cumulative effect is that the present body cannot legally function as the Traditional Rulers Council as it is made up of persons who are legally disabled from being members of the Council.
“Unfortunately, this body has been functioning as the Traditional Rulers Council of Anambra State for several years”.
According to Aburime, “in order to purge the state of this illegality, the governor made the following suggestions which were accepted by the traditional rulers:
*That all Traditional Rulers in the state shall become members of the Anambra Traditional Rulers Council other than a select few, and therefore remove the term limit; and
*that for this to function, there will be a need for amendment of the relevant sections of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Law”.
At the meeting, the governor also announced that with the apologies of the Traditional Rulers that recently conferred chieftaincy titles on Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, the state government has reinstated the Traditional Ruler of Neni, and had forgiven the Traditional Rulers of Ojoto and Aguluezechukwu.
In his speech, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, reaffirmed their unalloyed solidarity and support and assured that the Traditional Rulers were ready to partner with the state government in all its efforts to transform Anambra into a livable and prosperous homeland.