Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Mkpat Enin has ordered the acclaimed village head designate of Udung Ukpong community in Okobo Local Council of the state, Chief Effiong Sampson Eminence to desist from parading himself as village head of that community.
The court, in suit number HOK/6/2019, presided by Justice IniAbasi Udobong also restrained the Traditional Rulers Council l, TRC, Governor Udom Emmanuel as well as the Commissioner, Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs from issuing Certificate of recognition to the said Chief.
The court gave the order following the dispute over the village headship of the community which began in 2019 after the demise of the then village head, chief Okon Joe Oluhun.
It was gathered that in the process of selecting a replacement, the Okobo Traditional Rulers Council is reported to have ignored the provision of the Traditional Rulers Law of Akwa Ibom State 2000. The Council was accused of bypassing 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.” The judge expressed displeasure on the attitude of the supervising ministry for refusal to sanction the TRC saying, “they are the the same finger of a leprous hand.”
Udung Ukpong remains a disputed stool, therefore there is a perpetual restraint on the Okobo Traditional Rulers Council, the Commissiiner, 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.” The judge ruled.
Our correspondent reports that A M Azees Esq represented the claimant, chief Effiong Osung Awak, while the first accused – chief Effiong Sampson Eminence was represented by chief Emmanuel Ekpenyong. Kenneth Jackson Esq represented the third and fourth accused.