By Jake Aimuan in Asaba

A first-class traditional ruler in Delta State, Asagba of Asaba, Obi (Prof) Chike Edozien, has announced the immediate suspension of all ties between the people of his kingdom of Asaba and the authorities of Oshimili South Local Government Area, which forms the major part of Asaba, the state capital.

Specifically, Obi Edozien announced the immediate repossession of all property belonging to Asaba community but which were currently being managed or occupied by the Oshimili South local government council mainly as valuable sources of internally generated revenue (IGR).

Addressing newsmen in Asaba yesterday, Secretary to the Palace of Asagba of Asaba, Chief Patrick Ndili, stated that the decision to put in hold existing social and economic relations with the local government council was a last-resort action prompted by refusal of the council to release to the traditional rulers council (headed by the Asagba of Asaba) of the 5%(five percent) monthly allocation from the Federation Account for more than two years.

This was part of the resolution reached at the extraordinary meeting of the Asagba-in-Council on Sunday, July 25, 2021, “Consequent upon the refusal of Oshimili South Local Government Council to remit the 5% stipends accrued to the Traditional Rulers Council for over two years now”, he said.

Ndili, who was flanked by other high-ranking Asagba royal palace chiefs, explained how the Asagba had, on July 15, 2021 written to tge the local government demanding the release of the said monthly stipends, which the Oshimili South Council has not paid since June, 2019.

As part of the Asagba palace’s drastic measures being taken against Oshimili South Council, Ihonor of Asaba (Ndili) said that the “Asaba community shall henceforth repossess the popular Ogbeogonogo Modern Market, Oshimili Arcade, Ogbeolie Market, the Council Quarters, Asagba Market” and a host of other economically viable platforms from the local government council.

According to the secretary to the Palace of the Asagba of Asaba, “That the Asaba Community shall henceforth take over the performance of all duties assigned to the local government council is refuse disposal, clearing of drainages etc within the Asaba town.

“That no business or property owned or operating within Asaba shall pay any form of revenue levied by the Oshimili South Local Government Council.”

Ndili, who read out the resolutions, further announced “the immediate suspension of all collaborations whether customary, political, administrative or social between local government council and Asaba community.

“To this end, all bonafide Asaba sons and daughters shall cease forthwith from attending any meeting, ceremony, function and events organised by the Oshimili South Local Government Council.”

Although, sources close to the chairman of the Oshimili South council, Kelvin Ezenyili, pointed out that the issue of non-remittance of 5% allocation to the traditional rulers predated his assumption of office in March 2021, and has become a pending court matter, THISDAY learnt that the royal father felt insulted by the failure of council chairman to even pen a reply to his letter at the expiration of seven-day ultimatum to respond either in writing or verbally.

Nevertheless, a member of the council of chiefs, Prof Epiphany Azinge (SAN) insisted that the issue before the court was about the staff of office and due recognition given by the state government to another traditional ruler in the locality, saying that the issue of non-remittance of the said stipends had absolutely no litigational strings attached.

Harping on the importance of the sanction of the local government council, Azinge said, “When the Azagba-in-Council speaks, it is the whole Asaba. That is why we are all here to stamp thall authority, that all Asaba people are behind this proclamation and the resolutions. And, to that extent, it is not something that anybody can take for granted. It is something we are very serious about; it is something we are very committed to.”

Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has promised to name multi-billion naira State Secretariat Complex, Asaba in honour of Obi (Prof) Chike Edozien, the Asagba of Asaba, who is regarded as Nigeria’s oldest professor of medicine.

Dr Okowa made promise when led a delegation of top government functionaries on a visit to the palace of the Asaba, on Saturday, to congratulate the first-class monarch on his 97th birthday and his 30th coronation anniversary.

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