Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, has sacked the Transition Committee Chairmen of the 17 Local Government councils of the state over the humiliation he suffered at the lying in state of the late Biafra warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, in Aba on Feb. 28.
A statement signed by Ugochukwu Emezue, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, said the sack of the council helsmen was with immediate effect.
The statement, made available to journalists on Sunday in Umuahia, directed the affected chairmen to hand over government’s property in their possession to the most senior official next to them on Monday, March 5, 2012.
It attributed their abrupt removal from office to their inability to handle grassroots matters that could hamper security.
But Premium Times and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the removal of the chairmen sworn-in in December 2011, might not be unconnected with their failure to mobilise the right people for the Feb. 28 state funeral for late the Ikemba Nnewi, Odumegwu-Ojukwu in Aba.
Vociferous sections of the crowd that attended the ceremony at Enyimba Sports Stadium, had booed at Mr. Orji while paying tribute to the departed Igbo Leader.
They also repeatedly pelted the governor with satchet water.
Later, the colourful ceremony was almost marred when a section of the crowd booed him as he presented his speech, and chanted songs urging Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo to address the audience.
The pro-Okorocha slogans, which repeatedly interrupted the Abia governor’s speech, brought the event to an abrupt end.
Terribly humiliated, Mr. Orji however explained that it was agreed by the South-East Governors’ Forum “that only the host governor will speak during the lying-in-state ceremonies.”
The governor, distracted by the noise from the booing crowd, was reported to have said:“This was the way you people behaved during my campaign here and afterwards I still won my opponents overwhelmingly in Aba.’’
An indication that some people might pay for the insult emerged on March 1, when the state House of Assembly summoned the 17 chairmen and the Local Organising Committee members of the Ojukwu burial ceremony to appear before it on March 6.
The local government chairmen were blamed for mobilising the wrong kind of crowd to the ceremony.
A resident of the state told Premium Times the governor failed to reckon with the fact that he had become very unpopular for sacking public servants from other Igbo-speaking states in the employ of his state, and then ordering them to return to their home states.
Residents also say he has performed poorly as governor with unemployment and poverty soaring in his state, and Aba, the state’s commercial capital, reeking with filth.
When NAN sought the reaction of the assembly on the abrupt removal of the chairmen, Ogbonna Ogugua, the Deputy Director, Infrormation and Protocol, Abia State Assembly, said that the 17 chairmen were still expected to appear before the assembly.
He said that the assembly had not issued any other statement to to the contrary.
Meanwhile, students of Abia State University, Uturu, have been warned against involving themselves in any form of demonstration on Monday, March 5.
A statement signed by Mr Don Ubani, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategies, noted that the attention of government had been drawn to plans by some students to demonstrate in the university.
NAN recalls that the university authorities recently deployed armed military men in the institution due to fears that the students might revolt due to a hike increase in their fees.