Etche — The people of Okoroagu I, an oil community in Etche Local Government Area, Rivers State, have inaugurated their own constitution, 19 years after the Igbo Kingdom split into two.
Ukpala people had, in year 2000, broken away from the parent community and became autonomous as Okoroagu II. It claimed that oil largesse from companies operating in the area was responsible for the separation.
Following the development, the remaining four villages in Okoroagu I--Umuokechi, Dike Namkpaka, Achara Umuokechi and Ukpala--last year, instituted a move to get a constitution.
Speaking after inauguration of the constitution and the elected chiefs for Okoroagu I, Secretary of Okoroagu Council of Chiefs and Elders, Mr. Gift Oshilem, said: "We are happy for the inauguration of Okoroagu I leadership system, which is the town council. We launched our own constitution as a community too.
"There have been crises, but today this puts a stop to those internal wranglings. We have done what our people expect us. Here in Okoroagu we have Umuokechi, Dike Namkpaka, Achara Umuokechi and Ukpala autonomous community. Despite that Ukpala went their way in 2000, 18th of next month (February) will make it 20 years we have not had this."
Oshilem added: "This constitution means that autonomy should be implemented. This is first in Okorogu. It covers the four communities that have come together. Of a truth the name of Umuokechi was silenced, you cannot silence it, because it is supposed to be the ancestral home of Igbo kingdom.
Speaking to NDV, Chief-elect of Okoroagu I, Chief Nelson Amadi, said: "I am happy that we have kept our record and history straight. Some chiefs wanted to bring us down.
"We said it is improper that somebody from Okoroagu I will go and join their council in Okoroagu 2 or their constitution covering us.
"This constitution shows the names of communities that belong to Okoroagu I, not the one they (Okoroagu II) have, that does not represent us well. We know our right and we fought for it. We will remain peaceful in fighting for what belongs to us."