Nnamdi Kanu and his supporters driven away from palace of Nri monarch for violating Igbo tradition

INDIGENOUS People of Biafra (Ipob) leader Nnamdi Kanu has been sent away from the palace of the traditional ruler of Nri in Anambra State considered the ancestral home of all Igbos in for violating tradition during his recent visit.


Over the last two years, Ipob has gained in popularity across Igboland following the incarceration of Mr Kanu. Earlier this year, he was released on bail and has since been travelling across southeast Nigeria, building support for Ipob and championing his cause calling for the recreation of the independent republic of Biafra.


This week, Mr Kanu visited the palace of the Nri monarch in Aniocha Local Government Area of Anambra State but was not allowed to enter. According to Ifeanyi Onyesoh, a personal assistant to the monarch, Mr Kanu and his supporters attempted to force their way into the palace.


Mr Onyesoh said: “They tried to forcefully open the entrance gate of the palace and it was this unruly conduct that made the traditional ruler to telephone the security agents who responded promptly and dispersed Kanu and his supporters. He must first study Igbo tradition and culture and properly be advised before he misleads himself."


He added that a day before Mr Kanu’s visit, 12 young people came to the palace of the Eze Nri requesting an appointment with the traditional ruler. However, Igbo tradition does not allow impromptu meetings with monarchs and Mr Onyesoh, said he asked them to follow protocol, which Ipob refused to do.


"I was the person that received them and so I told them to go and come back with a written letter so that they will get official reply from the palace since the delegation looked unusual, in that there was no titled person among them. At this point, they all left and what we saw the next day was Kanu visiting Nri community with a huge crowd of his supporters.


"Kanu went straight to the house of one Chief Shadrack Mbanefo, a subject of the traditional ruler of Nri. The feelers we later got, was that the said Mbanefo claimed he handed over the Offo Nri, or symbol of royalty to Kanu and even allowed Kanu to visit the historic Ohianwehi Forest revered as forest of life by Igbo tradition," Mr Onyesoh added.


He pointed out that Mr Kanu, his wife, Uchechi and their supporters violated the tradition of the town during their visit on July 19 and that the people were angry. According to Mr Onyesoh, the Nri people considered Mr Kanu’s conduct as a taboo because no high profile visitor entered the community without first visiting the traditional ruler, let alone a sacred place without the knowledge of the ruler.


Mr Onyesoh added: “This forest is believed to be the place the first burnt offering was offered by the Jewish Igbo ancestors when they migrated from Israel more than 2,000 years ago. It is a taboo in Nri and equally against the Anambra state traditional rulers’ council law for a high profile visitor to visit a community without first paying homage to the traditional ruler.


“The people of Nri and her traditional ruler are not against Nnamdi Kanu and his agitation/aspiration but what we cannot take is for Kanu to come and mess up the Nri culture and tradition under whatever motive. The community will drag him to customary court to ensure that nobody else gives such insult to the community and its heritage."


He said the people regarded Mr Kanu’s action as an affront on their values and so resolved not to sweep the matter under the carpet. According to Mr Onyesoh, Nri is the ancestral home of all Igbo people and for Mr Kanu to visit Nri in the manner he did means he has no knowledge of Igbo tradition and culture.


“If Kanu wants a title, Eze Nri is not aware of such aspiration. If Kanu indeed met with anybody and claimed he was given Offo Nri, it means he is seeking the title through the back door and for the title he claimed was given to him by Adama Mbanefo, a servant to Eze Nri, is a nullity," Mr Onyesoh added.