Traditional rulers in Cross River Shave cautioned the Igbos resident in the state against creating the position of Eze Ndi Igbo (the king of the Igbos) in the state, as that would amount to “creating a kingdom where they are not empowered by the law to do so.”
The traditional rulers were reacting to the plan by the Igbo community in the state to “install/coronate” one E. A. Ezenweanyi as the Eze Ndigbo of Cross River State.
The traditional rulers, in a press statement issued on Tuesday, said, “The Igbos have every right to assemble as a community in Cross River State and pursue their legitimate rights under a leader who may be known as President General of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, President of Igbo Community in Cross River State, but not as Eze Ndi Igbo, a revered traditional title reserved for monarchs in the respective Igbo kingdoms.
“The said leader is not to bear the titles of His Majesty (HM), His Royal Majesty (HRM), or His Highness (HH).”
The statement, signed by Paramount Ruler of Bakassi and the Chairman, Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council, Etim Edet, and the Paramount Ruler of Calabar Municipality, Patrick Agbor, also warned the Igbo leader in Calabar against awarding chieftaincy title, whether traditional or honorary, to any person within the territories of Cross River State.
“Igbos in Cross River State can celebrate their day as may be convenient to them and may invite traditional rulers from within and outside the state to attend if they so wish,” the statement added.
The chairman of the traditional rulers’ council, Edet, said, Wednesday, he and others sought for clearance from the councils of traditional rulers in the South-east before issuing the statement.
“The response I got from the traditional rulers in the South-east was that the title of Eze Ndi Igbo was an exclusive one for kings in Igbo land and that we should not allow it in Cross River.
“I now asked, ‘how about those who have been using it?’ and they told me ‘Those using it illegally have been asked to stop forthwith,’” he said.
“There is this example in Cross River State, of one Elunnor who was a medical doctor here in Cross River state. He has a flourishing clinic here. He was the president of Igbo community here in Cross River State then. When he wanted to be a king he went back to Anambra State and at the last meeting I attended in Benin I saw him. He said he is now a traditional ruler in Anambra and he is there.
“So, if Ezenweanyi wants to be a king he cannot be in Cross River State; he should go to his place and become a king.
“You should be aware that since 2004 or thereabouts, there have been several attempts to do this (have Eze Ndi Igbo in Cross River), but the state government kicked against it.
“You cannot be a king and begin to give chieftaincy titles in a strange territory. Where is your kingdom in Cross River state? Where is your clan? This is not about an association, but about kingship which is a creation of statutes. We need to protect it, hence our reaction.
“We have Efik community in America, but there is no way you can have Obong of Calabar in the U.S.
“Where do you derive your power from to become a king? It is either by statutes or by nature, so where do you derive yours from?”
Mr Edet said the Igbo community in Cross River have accepted not to coronate anybody as their king in Cross River, and for showing such understanding he said he has directed the Cross River State council of traditional rulers to attend their ceremony to cement the relationship and encourage inter-ethnic unity and peace in the state