Court bars Akwa Ibom village head from traditional stool 

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Akwa Ibom State High Court, Tuesday, restrained one Chief Inam Robson Unanaowo from parading himself as the head of Atibe village in Eket local government area.

The court, sitting in Uyo, gave the order in a case between Chief Inam Robson Unanaowo and six others on behalf of six families of Atibe Village and the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Obong Unanaowo Udeme Unanaowo.

In the ruling, read by the presiding judge, Justice Ntong Ntong, the court said “Chief Inam Robson Unanaowo was earlier recognized by the Governor as the Village Head of Atibe Village by a letter dated 7th August 2020 and thereafter, the letter was withdrawn and in his place, the same governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel recognized Chief Unanaowo Udeme Unanaowo as the Village Head of Atibe Village, in accordance with section fifteen of the Traditional Rulers Law of Akwa Ibom State 2000.”

Justice Ntong held that “since Chief Inam Unanaowo was deposed by the state government and since there ought not to be a parallel administration in Atibe Village, it is fair in the circumstance to restrain Chief Inam Robson Unanaowo from parading himself as the Village Head, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive action.”

Justice Ntong said he “has read thoroughly all the processes and it is a fundamental rule that the Court will only grant an injunction to support a legal right recognized by Law.”

The court said, “there is a serious issue to try in the substantive action to determine if the Governor of Akwa Ibom State was right in his action.”

He said in the meantime, “the balance of convenience for the time is in favor of the fourth defendant, Chief Unanaowo Udeme Unanaowo, as Atibe Village will not be left like a sheep without a shepherd.”

Justice Ntong said, “it is an offence for a person to hold out himself as a traditional ruler, where the incumbent of that office has neither died, suspended nor deposed.”

The court has also ordered an accelerated hearing of the substantive suit.

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