Akwa Ibom State high court sitting in Mkpat Enin has restrained the Traditional Rulers Council, TRC, Governor Udom Emmanuel as well as the Commissioner, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs from issuing a certificate of recognition to one Chief Effiong Sampson as the village head of Udung Ukpong community, in Okobo Local Government Area of the State.
In suit number HOK/6/2019, the presiding judge, Justice IniAbasi Udobong also restrained Chief Sampson from parading himself as the village head of the community.
This was a result of the dispute over the village headship of the community which began in 2019 after the demise of the community’s monarch, chief Okon Joe Oluhun.
It was gathered that in the process of selecting a replacement, the Okobo Traditional Rulers Council, reportedly ignored the provision of the Traditional Rulers Law of Akwa Ibom State 2000, and allegedly bypassed the authentic family head of Eyo Ima Ukpong family, chief Henry Edet Bassey, to select chief Effiong Sampson as the village head.
The court noted that since chief Henry Edet Bassey is the family head who was part of the college of family heads that selected the late chief Okon Joe Oluhun in 2001, he was the correct choice to fill the vacant stool. The court insisted that the action of the TRC in shortchanging him in preference for chief Effiong Sampson Eminence as the village head designate is illegal.
Justice Udobong emphasized that the Okobo TRC was in breach of its own Law, thereby “becoming a law unto itself,” expressing displeasure on the attitude of the supervising ministry for refusal to sanction the TRC saying, “they are the same finger of a leprous hand.”
He said, “Udung Ukpong remains a disputed stool, therefore there is a perpetual restraint on the Okobo Traditional Rulers Council, the Commissioner, Ministry of Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs, and the Executive Governor of the state, who are second, third, and fourth accused respectively, from issuing and presenting certificates of recognition to chief Effiong Sampson Eminence, the first accused.
“A perpetual injunction is also on Chief Effiong Sampson Eminence restraining him from parading himself as the village head of Udung Ukpong.”