THE IHIAGWA MONARCHY
THE ORIGIN OF THE MONARCHY IN IHIAGWA
During the olden days, that is the pre-colonial times, There were no Ezes’ or kings in Ihiagwa. The ruler of the entire community then was the Ezeario Otamiri who is also the traditional Chief priest of Otamiri and hails from Iriamogu in the Ihiagwa autonomous community.
THE NAMES OF THE EZES’ FROM THE INCEPTION OF THE MONARCHY TILL DATE
Eze John Anozie Ngoka (The Nnaochie 1 of Ihiagwa, recognized by the Imo state government)
THE NNAOCHIES’ CABINET: This is made up of eight elected village heads which are known as the Ikoroha’s, the kingmakers’, eight Ishinmas’ (i.e. the titled daughters of the land and usually selected from the eight villages in the community) and finally the advisers to the Nnaochie .
QUALIFICATIONS TO BE POSSESSED BY A CANDIDATE FOR CHIEFTAINCY IN IHIAGWA
Any candidate vying for the chieftaincy title in the Ihiagwa autonomous community shall posses the following
1. A fairly good literacy standard i.e. must be able to speak, read and write coherent English.
2. Must be a stably married man.
3. Must be economically viable.
4. Must be socially acceptable to the majority of the Ihiagwa people.
5. Must be above 35 years of age to ensure maturity and stability.
6. Must be free to belong to any religious group of his choice.
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR THE NNAOCHIE IN IHIAGWA
For the Nnaochie to continue to remain office, and maintain his stool, he must desist from the following:
1. Shall not be a drunk
2. Shall not be a bankrupt.
3. Shall not be a source of ridicule to the Ihiagwa people.
4. Shall not go against the overall interest of the Ihiagwa people
5. Shall not demand or receive bribe or any form of inducement from anybody, institution , or even the authority.
VACANCY OF THE EZESHIP STOOL
The Nnaochie’s stool shall be deemed vacant in the event of :
1. The death of the reigning Nnaochie
2. The De – stoolment of the reigning Nnaochie
3. The abdication of reigning Nnaochie.
4. The In-capitation of the reigning Nnaochie either due to disease, age or infirmity or even insanity.
During the period of vacancy of the Nnaochie’s stool, his functions to the community can be performed by either of the following
1. The Onye ishiala or in default
2 The Ofor Oha or in default
3. The EzeArio or in default
4. The Oji Ogu’s or in default
5. The Aguzieafor or in default
6. The Ogambombo
The maximum duration on a vacancy on the Nnaochie’s stool shall be a period of ninety days (90 days)
THE FUNERAL RITES OF A LATE NNAOCHIE
Upon the death of the king in Ihiagwa autonomous community, his funeral shall be formulated by his cabinet.
RITE OR THE DUTIES OF THE KING (EZE )TO THE COMMUNITY
1. Ensures that there is peace in the community
2. Liaises with the government to ensure the provision of infrastructures to the community.
3. Agitates on cases of appeal since he is the final arbiter on cases that are on appeal
PROCESS OF SELECTION OF THE KING OR MONARCH
The process of selection of a king in the traditional Igbo society of which the Ihiagwa autonomous community is a part, is unique amongst the different autonomous communities.
In Ihiagwa, as soon as the need to select a new king arises, the Ihiagwa autonomous community sets up a panel on chieftaincy. This panel performs the function of making inquiries into the methods of chieftaincy succession in the autonomous community.
After this inquiry, the panel then provides certain guidelines for the selection and installation of the new king for the community. The provided guidelines are submitted and are to be adopted by the Ihiagwa central executive council on a certain meeting date of the executive council.
These guidelines are then ratified by a general conference of the Ihiagwa people, also on a certain meeting date of the Ihiagwa people.
The conference of Ihiagwa people in the next meeting unanimously ratifies the selected candidate and approves him and then the central executive council gives directives to prepare him for the installation ceremony.
THE EZESHIP INSTALLATION CEREMONY
The Eze is installed in the “Okpu-kpuru” shrine. This shrine is a sacred shrine or rather a holy ground of the Ihiagwa people located between Iriamogu and Ibuzo villages. It is on this ground that the Ihiagwa people made a covenant with their Chukwu. Where in strict compliance with the Ihiagwa custom the Eze should be crowned.
During the installation ceremony of the Eze the following groups of people are usually present and they include:
The Traditional priests (Ohas)
The Traditional Priests (Ndi Ishi agbara)
The Titled Daughters of the land (Ndi Ishi Nma)
The Ihiagwa council of elders
The Ihiagwa Youths
The community Leaders
The Members of the previous Eze’s cabinet
The Ihiagwa Daughters i.e. the daughters of the land (Ndi Mgboto)
The members of the Ihiagwa welfare association (Home and Abroad)
The Oldest man in the Ihiagwa Autonomous community.
While the Kingmakers are :
The oldest man in the Ihiagwa autonomous community
The Ezeario and his Oha Otamiri
The Oji Ogu
N.B. The kingmakers are those that crown the Eze while the others are those that will be present during the Eze’s oath taking.
The Eze as earlier said is crowned at the “Okpu-kpuru” shrine and usually the Oha Otamiri festival precedes this installation. Then the Eze takes his oath of office on the holy ground and the in the presence of the God of the land.
The chief priest of the Oha Otamiri his priests and the oldest man in Ihiagwa blesses the Eze’s throne, footstool, staff of office, and his other regalia.
The Eze of Ihiagwa is selected based on some personal merits. It doesn’t matter to which family or kindred of the Premier village he comes from.
The right to select an Eze in Ihiagwa is vested on the Ihiagwa central executive.
TITLE OF THE EZE.
The title of the king should be “The Nnaochie” and in the case of the first king to be selected, he should be styled the Nnaochie 1 of Ihiagwa and his successors should be numbered after him in that order.
THE NNAOCHIE’S PARAPHERNALIA OF OFFICE: The Nnaochie should wear a specially designed “Okpu Nwagoro” under his crown. He should also wear a big embroider gown, a very superior georgette linen cloth, court shoes, a specially designed staff of office, A specially designed stool, and all these paraphernalia provided by the members of the community.
PROCESS OF DE-STOOLMENT OF THE EZE (KING) The king can be de-stooled if he infringes on any or on all of the codes conduct of office. Or if the people he is leading has lost confidence in him.
Based on this, any Ihiagwa person or group of persons can petition the Ihiagwa central executive council.
On receipt of this petition against the King or any member of his cabinet, The Ihiagwa central executive council investigates the matter on hand and if it is convinced that the Petition made against the King Or any of cabinet holds water, it shall summon a constituted conference of the Ihiagwa people where either the Eze (King) or his cabinet member shall be tried.
If after trial, and a two-third majority of the vote cast by the conference decides that the king or his cabinet member has lost confidence of the people, he shall thus be asked to step down or his stool declared vacant by the Ihiagwa central executive body.
Thus it is only a Two-third majority of the entire Ihiagwa people that can de-stool the Eze.
TENURE OF THE KING: The Eze (king) shall remain in office as long as he keeps the codes conduct and enjoys the confidence of the Ihiagwa people. But if he fails, he shall be asked to leave the stool.