January 26, 2023

Court restrains Akwa Ibom Monarch from Family Head’s selection

By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo

Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo presided over by Justice Ntong Ntong has restrained the Paramount Ruler of Itu local government area, Edidem Akpan Inyang from interferring in the selection of Family Head of Nung Atum, of Nung Ukot Itam.

The presiding judge, gave the retraining order on Thursday, while delivering judgement in a case between Chief Ezekiel Effiong Japhet and three other members of Nung Atum Family of Nung Ukot Itam in Itu Local Government Area (claimants) and Chief Bassey Edem and Edidem Edet Akpan Inyang, as defendants.

The Court held that the first claimant, Chief Ezekiel Effiong Japhet, having been elected and selected by the members of the family, remains the family head.

The court explained that under the traditional rulers system in Akwa Ibom State, the Paramount Ruler is at the zenith of the leadership, hence the issue of family headship will be too infinitesimal for his involvement.

The Court also held that family headship was not a political office, but a sole duty of a family to select who should lead them, according to their laid down tradition and customs.

It further held that to engender peace and unity in communities, the proper line of communication should be from the family head to the village head, from the village head to the Clan head, Clan Head to the Paramount Ruler and then Paramount Ruler to the State Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

Justice Ntong held: “It is trite that no Court will be friendly with illegality. The second defendant’s (the Paramount Ruler) interference with the family meeting and family decision of Nung Atum family is illegal and uncalled for.

“It is unwholesome and opprobrious. And because his action can create an ugly precedent for others in Akwa Ibom State in particular and Nigeria in general, this Court will bluntly refuse to glorify it.

“This Court will resist any attempt to be dragged into accentuating any form of illegality.”