Police have sealed-off the palace of the factional monarch of Awka community, His Imperial Majesty, Eze Uzu III, Chief Austin Ndigwe.

The embattled monarch was billed to hold the celebration of new yam festival in Awka Kingdom on Saturday when his palace was sealed.

Chief Ndigwe had sent out invitation to top politicians, monarchs, journalists and other special guests from across the country to witness the new yam festival, but the event was stalled.

Invitation sent out had read: “You’re invited to the OTITE AWKA 2022 (Iri Ji Ofuu) festival of Awka Ancient Kingdom by the Obi of Awka Kingdom, His Imperial Majesty, Ozo Dr Austin Ndigwe.

“Date is Saturday, 10th September 2022, by 11am, at the Palace of the monarch.”

Sources said some monarchs from across South East were already at the palace at about 11am, when a huge detachment of police and military men arrived and sealed the palace.

The source said: “The policemen and military chased everyone out of the palace, shooting canisters of teargas at youths who had attended the event.

“There was pandemonium when they started shooting, and a lot of people ran away, while many youths sustained injuries.”

A policeman, who stopped this reporter from accessing the venue, said they were acting on orders from above.

When journalists reached out to the spokesperson of Anambra State Police command, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, he said he was not aware of any order to seal-off the palace of the factional monarch.

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, Chris Aburime said he was not also aware of any order in that regard.

When we reached out to the embattled monarch, he said he was in a meeting and cannot speak.

The traditional stool of Awka Kingdom has been a source of tussle for a few years now, after some influential members of the community claimed to have dethroned the monarch, Eze Uzu II, Igwe Gibson Nwosu.

In his place, they crowned, Ndigwe, who immediately assumed the position of the monarch of the kingdom, causing the entire kingdom to be divided.

While some members of the community supported Ndigwe as their monarch, others supported Nwosu.

Coincidentally, both Ndigwe and Nwosu had slated Saturday for their new yam festival. It was gathered that Nwosu is the government-recognised monarch, and holds a certificate of recognition, which Ndigwe does not.