Breaking: Tension in Amichi community over Iri Ji festival

Igwe Ezeoke middle on white and his Okpala descendants

… over Okwoaka Amichi Iri Ji festival before the traditional ruler, Igwe Ezeoke
Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Unless Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State or Commissioner of Police, John Abang intervene crisis may erupt at Amichi, Nnewi South Local government area between the His Royal Highness, Igwe Dr. Alphonsus Ofobuike Ezeoke(Obi Amichi) and his former ally, Chief Maja Umeh, Okwoaka Amichi regarding the scheduled and imminent new yam festivals by both.

Igwe Ezeoke middle on white and his   Okpala descendants
Igwe Ezeoke middle on white and his Okpala descendants


Whereas Maja Umeh has invited guests and well-wishers for Saturday August 31st for his own celebration even with public service announcements, the traditional ruler of Amichi, Igwe Dr Alphonsus Ofobuike Ezeoke said Amichi will celebrate new yam on Sunday, September 1, 2019.


Igwe maintained no individual in Amichi shall celebrate new yam before the traditional ruler, but Umeh said it was a private new yam celebration. Already, this is reaching a disturbing and irreversible crescendo that may end up in crisis.

When contacted via WhatsApp, Igwe Ezeoke warned all lovers of peace to stay away from the confrontation to his throne as Umeh has drawn battle line against the Amichi culture and tradition.


Igwe Ezeoke appealed to security operatives especially DSS aiding and abetting the Maja Umeh Iri ji celebration to back off as it is against Amichi tradition unless they are sponsoring crisis in Amichi through Maja Umeh.
The traditional ruler of Amichi further appealed to Governor Willie Obiano and other good spirited individuals to not only shun the iri ji but intervene for peace as the fall out may not be palatable to all concerned.


Igwe further urges all invitees to Chief Maja Umeh’s 2019 Iri Ji event to stay away from Amichi on August 31, 2019 as it is sacrilegious in Igboland for an individual to celebrate New Yam festival before his traditional ruler.


He reminded that : ‘’The Amichi new yam festival will be duly celebrated by the Igwe on September 1, 2019, at Igwe’s palace in Amichi by 1pm prompt. Any other attempt to celebrate new yam festival in Amichi by any other individual is tantamount to civil insurrection’’.


‘’He uses the DSS illegally to preselect his complicit attendees to conduct his iri ji. Politicians visit him for the ceremony. Igwe has stated that if Chief Umeh would elect to perform other functions for his political friends that is unrelated to the cultural traditions in Amichi, that he (Igwe) would attend such ceremony, but to perform and mirror Igwe’s traditional rites, can never be tolerated in Amichi land’’.

Maja Umeh and wife with his lawyer   Okoli Akirika during such event previously
Maja Umeh and wife with his lawyer Okoli Akirika during such event previously


When contacted via WhatsApp message, Chief Maja Umeh, Okwoaka Amichi dismissed the allegation that he is stoking trouble in Amichi and stated blankly: ‘’ They are not telling you the whole truth.

ALSO READ  Xenophobia: NANS opposes cultural exchange programme with South Africa


When probed further to substantiate his statement, Umeh who served as a Commissioner for Information in Anambra state said: ‘’When this tide is over my dear. No need to heat up the system’’, even as he went further to say that ‘Amichi is calm’.
When this correspondent requested to know why he was celebrating new yam before the Igwe, Umeh said: ‘’My dear, am having a private and personal lunch with my friends and associates across the globe. I don’t think that should be a problem’’.
He was reminded that since he did publicity to that effect that it was no longer private , asking his view, but he retorted: ‘’Scales differ from person to person just like burials, weddings and so on. What’s your take?’’.

Later a release from the palace authorized by the Igwe Amichi explaining the details stated: ‘’This year, Igwe Amichi and members of his Cabinet scheduled to conduct his new yam festival on September 1, 2019, at his palace in Amichi. Conversely, Chief Maja Umeh, the erstwhile commissioner for Information under Chief Peter Obi, scheduled his “iri ji” on August 31, 2019. Chief Umeh has been celebrating his “iri Ji” against the wishes of the Igwe. Due to his strong, but somewhat cold, relationship he had with his Igwe, Igwe decided to use dialogue to convince Chief Umeh to desist from performing such parallel function in Amichi.

‘’The issue that irked the King is Chief Umeh’s tendency to imitate the same rituals that Igwe performs during Igwe’s new yam festivals: such as raising the yam and calling on the gods to bless the new yam and the yams from the ground; offering and conferring titles to the deserved; issuing certificate of recognition to the titlists. Chief Umeh invites other traditional rulers in Anambra State to attend his Iri Ji, just like Igwe does. Some of the traditional rulers have asked Igwe to rescue them from such participation by using every legal means to stop Chief Umeh from conducting such ceremonies.

‘’The last time that Chief Umeh celebrated his Iri Ji, Igwe summoned him at Igwe’s palace and admonished Chief Umeh from such ceremonies. Chief Umeh agreed not to perform further Iri Ji ceremonies. This year, Chief Umeh defied the Igwe again and scheduled the ceremony. To further stew the desired confrontation, this time Chief Umeh planned the ceremony to precede Igwe’s new yam festival which is against the culture and tradition of Amichi land and Igboland in general.

ALSO READ  "Live APC Alone", APGA Told

‘’Chief Maja Umeh was the Chairman of Igwe’s Cabinet, but betrayed Igwe during Igwe’s 15th year anniversary by sabotaging the event in seizing more than Two Million Naira raised for the event, by making furious phone calls to the invitees and informing them of the need not to attend Igwe’s anniversary ceremony. Igwe stated that he could not understand Chief Umeh’s turncoat activities.

Giving further insight on the matter, the statement said that ‘’To avoid confrontation, Igwe hired the services of *Prince* Orji Nwafor-Orizu Chambers to write a letter to Chief Umeh to refrain from conducting this year’s “Iri Ji.”


‘’In response, Chief Umeh retained the services of Barrister Okoli-Akirika, to respond to Igwe’s letter. In the letter, Chief Umeh indicated that since Igwe did not schedule his new yam festival on the normal last Sunday of August, that Igwe should have called Chief Maja Umeh to inform him of the changes. Chief Umeh further stated that he will conduct the Iri Ji, in defiance of Igwe’s orders. Barrister Orji Nwafor-Orizu, a Prince in his own right, called Chief Maja Umeh to advise him of the need to avoid the confrontation. Chief Maja Umeh told Barrister Orizu to instruct Igwe to call him (Chief Umeh). Prince Orji Orizu cautioned Chief Umeh to not disrespect the Amichi throne. Chief Umeh agreed to consult with Igwe to avoid the conflict. Chief Umeh did not make the phone call. He refused to talk to Igwe, and continued his defiant plan. There is the crux of the issue.

‘’Perusal of Anambra State Traditional Rulers Law of 2007, Section 15(1)(c) clearly states that “A recognized Traditional Ruler SHALL: preside at community festivals and important public gatherings of the towns or community.”

‘’Igwe stated that he abhors filing any suit against any of his people, but that such suit may be necessary at this juncture because doing nothing and allowing Chief Umeh to continue his activities would be tantamount to conceding some of his functions to a lay person. He concludes that if a suit is filed, relationships are lost, friendships are bruised, friends and enemies align, funds are spent, and familial interests are destroyed. It is therefore mind-boggling why anyone would invite an obvious legal confrontation.

Igwe once more urged Chief Umeh to not unmask the same masquerade he helped to suit. Igwe further urges all invitees to Chief Maja Umeh’s 2019 Iri Ji event to stay away from Amichi on August 31, 2019.

ALSO READ  NDDC: Joy Nunieh has no NYSC certificate, Akpabio blows hot


‘’It is sacrilegious in Igboland for an individual to celebrated New Yam festival before his traditional ruler. The Amichi new yam festival will be duly celebrated by the Igwe on September 1, 2019, at Igwe’s palace in Amichi by 1pm prompt. Any other attempt to celebrate new yam festival in Amichi by any other individual is tantamount to civil insurrection.

‘’Chief Maja Umeh invites mostly the same crowd as Igwe. He uses the DSS illegally to preselect his complicit attendees to conduct his iri ji. Politicians visit him for the ceremony. Igwe has stated that if Chief Umeh would elect to perform other functions for his political friends that is unrelated to the cultural traditions in Amichi, that he (Igwe) would attend such ceremony, but to perform and mirror Igwe’s traditional rites, can never be tolerated in Amichi land.

‘’Igwe’s Cabinet members urge intending attendees of Chief Umeh’s iri ji ceremony to not participate in such traditional violation in Amichi. The Cabinet urges the Governor of Anambra State and all Political Stakeholders in Anambra State to advise Chief Maja Umeh to desist from causing any civil unrest in Amichi. The Executive Governor of Anambra State should take notice of Chief Maja Umeh insistence of using the DSS to destabilize Amichi. Maja Umeh’s iri ji ritual is against the culture of Amichi. For that reason, no one can credibly predict what may happen in Amichi on August 31, 2019, if Maja Umeh continues his charade against the wish of Igwe Amichi and entire Amichi community. The Cabinet urges all of Chief Maja Umeh’s associates to advise him to cancel all further Iri Ji ceremonies starting from August 31, 2019, and in the future. There is no need for a peaceful town to be subjected to this sort of unnecessary and irreverent self-aggrandizement at the expense of the whole town.

The statement concluded: ‘’Mostly, Chief Maja Umeh has lost his clout in APGA, and may be using this iri ji platform to recall relevance. Seeking relevance should not be an avenue to breach peace in a peaceful town like Amichi. Igwe and Chief Maja Umeh are stalwarts in the town. The breach would have consequences. We will standby and observe the outcome of this confrontation’’.
Will Chief Maja Umeh back down or will Igwe stop Chief Maja Umeh?
Stay tuned.

What are your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: