BY ANAYO ONUKWUGHA, PORT HARCOURT
The Council of Chiefs of Koniju Town in Okrika local government area of Rivers State, have threatened to sue the All Progressives Congress (APC) over alleged derogatory statement against the paramount ruler of Okochiri community, King Ateke Michael Tom.
Recall that leaders of the APC in the state had during a protest in support of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) last Monday, accused Governor Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike of recognising a criminals as traditional rulers in the state.
The protesters allegedly displayed flex banners with a picture Wike took with the Okochiri monarch during his coronation, with a bold inscription, ‘Wike is making criminals kings’.
But, addressing newsmen yesterday at the Community Secondary School field, Okochiri, Chairman of Koniju Council of Chiefs, Chief Chris Biriowu Opuayaraya, demanded for a retraction of the statement by the APC and an apology published in both local and national media.
Mbonu-Ayagara said, “We, the chiefs, elders and people of Okochiri Kingdom and indeed the entire Wakirike ethnic nationality wholly condemn in the strongest terms the damaging malicious, provocative and insultive inscription targeted to malign and denting the hard-earned reputation of our monarch.
“We view the act as sacrilegious, inciting and intended to demean not only the image of our well respected traditional stool and IRS occupant but also a great disrespect and disservice to the people of Okochiri Kingdom, who after a thorough selection picked His Royal Majesty to ascend this exalted ancient throne.
“We, the chiefs, elders and good people of Okochiri Kingdom and indeed Kirikebese therefore demand that the statement be retracted, and a public apology rendered in both local and national print and electronic media by the perpetrators of this treacherous act without further delay or we will take legitimate and necessary action as we may deem appropriate.”
He described the claim by members of the APC that Wike coronated Ateke Tom as paramount ruler, as an affront to the respected cultural values of the Wakirike people and the Ijaw nation in general.
The chief said, “Let me at this juncture enlighten the uninformed among the originators of this devious, malicious and condemnable act that traditional issues particularly concerning the selection of a king has no business with government or governor.
“It is the exclusive preserve of the community that uses various traditional determinants including the contributions of the individual towards the development of his people that culminate in the choice of the king.
“Therefore to allude that Governor Wike coronated His Royal Majesty, King Ateke Michael Tom, is an affront to the highly respected cultural values of the Wakirike people in particular and the Ijaw nation at large.”