By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The death has been announced of His Royal Highness, Eze (Dr) Mathew Chukwuemeka Ukeje (JP), the Udo Abia 1V of Udo Ancient Kingdom, in Ezinihittee Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State.
Aged 95 years, the late monarch was the traditional ruler of Udo autonomous community Imo state.
In a statement by Nze Dr Obinna Nwachukwu, Chairman, Burial Publicity Committee on Thursday, Eze Ukeje until his demise, was the longest reigning king in the old Imo State (now Imo and Abia states).
He was crowned king and presented staff of office in September 1977 by the then military administrator of old Imo State, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu.
Confirming the death, the Traditional Prime Minister, Ishi Nze Ukachukwu Ohaeri, described HRH Eze Ukeje as “a man of peace and a rare patriot, an accomplished and consummate administrator who mounted the throne 43 years ago and brought peace and harmony to the community and the state”.
According to Ohaeri, the monarch played a leading role in ensuring peace, unity and tolerance amongst the diverse tendencies that co-habit his domain and even beyond. The result he said, “is that violence, whether sectarian or otherwise, became a rare occurrence in the entire Udo Kingdom”.
His burial ceremony would commence on Wednesday 16th December 2020 with Tributes, Carnival and condolence visits culminating with burial service at Udo Secondary Technical School and interment on Friday 18th December, 2020.
Expected guests at the funeral include traditional rulers, and government officials including the state governor, His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
According to the statement, “the late Monarchy’s reigned witnessed monumental developments in Udo such as the establishment of Udo Secondary Technical School, Udo Health Centre, Postal Agency, Nkwo Udo market, Water scheme, hospital and electricity supply.
“He also tenaciously retained the thread that held the community together to the extent that Udo is one of the few communities in the old eastern region that has remained one united entity, qualifying it to be called an ancient kingdom with long history and culture.
“A detribalized Nigerian and leader, the late Eze Ukeje built bridges across ethnic, religious and socio-cultural divides”, the statement added.