…Chief priest’s support also
“Only sick, incapacitated Ozuruigbo can nominate Crown Prince”
The process for the selection of a new traditional ruler of Owerri in Owerri Municipal Council has been described as open, community-wide involvement with , the Njemanze Iheanacho Royal family and the Eke-na-Okorie Traditional Council (kingmakers) playing very important roles.
It is also said to require the “tacit support” of the traditional chief priest of Owerri.
The Owerri ezeship selection process, according to an insider source, normally begins with the Njemanze Iheanacho Royal family who must meet to nominate a “fit and proper” son of Njemanze Iheanacho Royal family for onward submission to the Eke-na-Okorie kingmakers.
The source who claimed to have witnessed the process in the past, hinted that only a sick or incapacitated reigning Eze Owerri is by tradition and rule, entitled to nominate a crown prince who would act on his behalf in the day-to-day running of the community until he joins his ancestors.
It was further gathered that a nominated crown prince must pass through the Eke-na-Okorie Traditional Council who could, after traditional screening or Nko”, reject the nominated crown prince.
“The selection process of the Eze of Owerri is a community wide involvement. At the first level are the sons of Njemanze Ihenacho. Next are the kingmakers of Owerri (a.k.a Oshi Eze). The Njemanzes and the Oshi Eze constitute what we know today as “Eke na Okorie traditional council”
“After the selection of the Eze by the kingmakers, the chosen Njemanze son is then formally presented to each of the five villages of Owerri Nchi Ise, after which a date for the crowning is picked.
” He is then formally crowned by the oldest of the kingmakers on the scheduled day. The
crowning of the Eze is a festive occasion where the community and people from far and wide come to witness the event In modern times, the crowned Eze is then presented to the Governor of Imo state for recognition which is symbolized by receiving a staff of office”, the source explained.
It was authoratively gathered that in the case the Eke-na-Okorie traditional council rejects an Ezeship nominee of the Njemanze Royal dynasty or the Eze-nominee fails the “Nko” or traditional screening, it would still behove the Njemanze Royal family to meet again to pick another nominee whose name would still be submitted to the Eke-na-Okorie kingmakers.
It was equally learnt that traditionally, the Governor of Imo State cannot select the Eze of Owerri, rather, the governor is presented the Eze already selected by his people for recognition.
Recall that the Owerri Ezeship has been on the front burner of media discourses in recent times, following the reported move by some elders and youths of Amawom community, Owerri to nominate a crown prince for onward submission to the Eke-na-Okorie traditional council and subsequent crowning as traditional ruler.
The elders and youths had predicated the move for a new traditional ruler of Amawom, on what they widely described as the unilateral imposition of Eze Peter Njemanze on the community by the past Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha against all the established customs and traditions of the community.
Recently, a daughter of the community, Princess Stella Njemanze-Neboh made a passionate appeal to Governor Hope Uzodinma to restore the respect, culture and tradition of Owerri Royal stool by undoing the action of Okorocha in single-handedly appointing a traditional ruler of Owerri community. This she noted is anathema and a desecration of the culture and tradition of the Njemanze dynasty, even Owerri people.
Amawom elders had also described the action of former Governor Okorocha as one borne out of perceived “hatred” for Nde Owere, after allegedly failing to acquire their ancestral lands.
Eze Peter Njemanze’s camp has however, dismissed the move as inconsequential and laughable.
This position therefore makes the running battle a contentious and continued one that could linger for a long time.