A High Court sitting in Calabar, presided over by Justice Emmanuel Ayade, has ordered the reinstatement of the deposed Muri Munene of the Efuts and Paramount Ruler of Calabar South, HRH Prof Itam Itam.
Prof Itam’s certificate of recognition was withdrawn in May after he was accused of attending a political meeting in the home of former governor, Donald Duke in Calabar in May this year, which he denied.
The judge ruled on Tuesday that the applicant was not given a fair hearing by the panel set up to investigate his alleged presence at the political meeting.
In the suit No: HC/MSC154/2022 between Prof Itam (the applicant) and the state Governor, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Chieftaincy Matters and the state Attorney-General, the applicant sought to quash his removal as paramount ruler of Calabar South.
Before delivering his judgement, Justice Ayade reviewed the submissions of the counsels for both the applicant and the respondents, cited several authorities and upheld the arguments of the applicant’s counsel that the applicant was not given a fair hearing and likened the removal of Prof Itam to “a palace coup,” and hasty, adding that the applicant was not given the opportunity to defend himself, “which violates principles of natural justice”.
The judge, therefore, ordered that the applicant’s letter of recognition be restored with immediate effect.
Reacting, Prof Itam thanked the judge for upholding the truth, adding that, “I will work for peace. I will invite stakeholders for peace meeting. Everybody should avoid rancour”.
He urged the Governor to check the alleged illegal activities at the Chieftaincy Department.
The Chairman of Muri’s Council and Clan head of Uwanse Clan in Calabar South, HRH Muri Bassey, said they could now take back the palace following the judgement and that they would reorganise the Efut nation.
Counsel for the applicant, Ekpenyong Essien, said Prof Itam was not given a fair hearing that was why the judge said “that action was too rash and it was like a palace coup and a kangaroo arrangement and the court has so ruled that he should be reinstated to the office with immediate effect”.