Commissioner campaigns for women's rights in Igboland


A Nigerian woman, Ugochi Nnanna-Okoro has listed abuses and discriminatory practices against women in Nigeria’s ethnic Igboland and called for their abolition.

Nnanna-Okoro, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, in Imo state, one of the five states in the Igbo heartland, chose the appropriate platform to launch the campaign: it was at the palace of one of the custodians of the cultural practices she wants to piled into the dustbin of history.

She made the call when she paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman of Imo Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Samuel Ohiri, in Owerri on Monday.

Some of the practices she wants abolished are maltreatment of widows, denying women their family inheritance, wife battering and female circumcision.

The cultural practices, she argued, were repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and were detrimental to Igbo women’s physical, moral, social and spiritual development.

“Disallowing women from taking kolanuts from the bowl even after it has been blessed and making the Igbo women sub-human should be discarded, considering the fact that culture is dynamic,” she said.

Nnana-Okoro also wants fetish to be banned.

She said that a synergy between the ministry and the council of traditional rulers would go a long way in establishing programmes that would address the cultural challenges facing the state and the Igbo in general.

The commissioner noted that the onus was on the traditional parliamentarians in the state to enact laws that would help in preserving, promoting and propagating Igbo cultural heritage.

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She said such laws should phase out fetish and obnoxious customs that still existed in the state.

Nnanna-Okoro commended Governor Rochas Okorocha for setting up the Traditional Parliament and also the International Federation of Women Lawyers in Imo for solving the problems of widows and other issues affecting women and children.

She frowned at the manner some communities in the state celebrated their masquerades, and appealed to the traditional rulers to advise their subjects against such acts.

“They should stop obstructing traffic and harassing women and visitors to the state. Our ministry will involve necessary sections of the law to punish culprits caught celebrating masquerades on major roads,” she said.

Responding, Ohiri said the council would partner with the ministry to preserve the state’s cultural heritage.

He assured the commissioner that the council would look into the fetish and obnoxious cultures in the state and come up with laws that would lead to their abolition.

The traditional ruler commended Okorocha’s relentless effort to ensure that Igbo language did not go into extinction.

“Igbo people in the Diaspora and other parts of the country should teach their children our language because Igbo language is our identity,” he said. (NAN)

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