ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has suspended Mr Onuma Johnson, the Special Adviser to Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri on Non-Indigenes Affairs and two other leaders over alleged anti-Igbo activities.
The Acting President of Ohanaeze, Bayelsa State chapter, Chief Remigius Ekwem, said the suspension of the three persons from the group was part of the decision taken by stakeholders and leaders to ensure that the interest of the Igbos is well protected in Bayelsa.
Ekwem, who spoke to journalists in Yenagoa on Wednesday, maintained that there was only one recognised Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Bayelsa and across the eight local government branches in the state.
He gave the names of other suspended leaders of the group as Chief Ernest Uzoefunam and Chief Wilfred Iyeanagoro.
He said Uzoefunam was suspended as Chairman, Igwe-in-Council, and Wilfred relieved from his position as the Patron of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Bayelsa State.
He alleged that they did not play their fatherly role in the crisis rocking Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide (Bayelsa State Chapter) and that they took sides instead of showing concern and ensuring that peace reign in the group.
“When a leader is not living up to his obligations, the exco deems it necessary to suspend him, then as a good leader after the suspension, he should find a lasting solution to the issues that led to his suspension,” Ekwem stated.
Also speaking, the South-South Coordinator, Ohanaeze Youth Wing, Chief Chinedu Arthur-Ugwa, said it was unbecoming of some leaders in Ohanaeze to work against the interest of the people that elected them.
He said: “As a national officer, when I saw the issues going on, I tried to be neutral, in the sense that we the national leaders will not go into the matter without knowing the facts and when I tried to settle the matter, the same group misunderstood me.
“The executive suspended him (Onuma Johnson) but instead of serving his suspension, he went and suspended the executive that suspended him. My advice to him is that he should serve his suspension and plead for forgiveness.
“Whoever that tries to undermine the powers of the national leadership’s directives is against Igbos, and anybody or group that does that should be taken as an enemy of the Ndigbo.”
Reacting to his suspension, the suspended Governor’s aide, Mr Onuma Johnson, said that the executive members of the body did not have any powers to suspend a fellow executive member.
“It’s the general assembly who voted people into leadership position that can suspend him following the constitutional process,” Johnson stated.
Meanwhile, the national leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has backed the Remigius Ekwem leadership of the group in Bayelsa, saying they will give all the needed support for the wellbeing of the Igbos in the state.
The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Worldwide, Hon. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, in a letter presented to journalists, said the recognised Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Ekwem “enjoys all the rights, privileges and authority to carry out various assignments on behalf of the group in Bayelsa State.”