TRC Law crisis: A’Ibom govt, traditional rulers opt for out of court settlement

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Akwa Ibom State government and the Traditional Rulers Council (TRC) in the state have agreed to settle their differences over the amended Traditional Rulers Law, Cap 155 out of court.

Some royal fathers had dragged the Akwa Ibom State government, the State Assembly, as well as the Paramount Ruler of Nsit Ubium Local Government Area, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk to court over the amendment of TRC Law Cap 155 which confers life and permanent Presidency on Oku Ibom Ibibio, Ntenyin Etuk.

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The plaintiffs, including all the Paramount Rulers of Annang extraction, Paramount Rulers of Urueffong Oruko, Okobo, Mbo, Eastern Obolo, Ibeno and those of Oron and Udung Uko Local Government Areas, who were joined in the suit, sought the rotation of the revered traditional stool.

But at the hearing of the case on Thursday, counsel to the plaintiffs, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim, a former Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, leading Barrister Jumbo Udom and five others, made an oral application to the Court for leave to explore settlement out of Court and for a short adjournment for parties to report settlement.

Ntekim said his application was premised on the desire of parties to restore and maintain peace in the State.

But the Attorney General of the State and Commissioner for Justice, Uko Udom, SAN represented by the Director of Civil Litigation, Barrister Bassey Ekanem was not satisfied with the oral application.

Although he confirmed that the State Attorney General and the former Attorney General, Barrister Ntekim met with the Governor, Pastor Umo Eno to broker a way forward for a peaceful resolution of the dispute, he argued that the plaintiffs ought to have made a written application in line with the terms of settlement.

The objection of the Attorney General’s representative was overruled by the Court, citing the case of Habib Bank Plc and Lodigiani Nigeria Limited reported in 2010, where the Court of Appeal said trial Courts have a duty to encourage parties to settle disputes out of court.

The trial Judge, Justice Archibong said one thing that stands out from the counsels’ arguments was their desire for peace and settlement of the dispute and that the form or manner of application should not be a stumbling block.

Counsels to the plaintiffs, Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim and Barrister Uyobong Jumbo Udom while speaking with journalists, expressed optimism that given the positive disposition of the State Government, the dispute will be resolved soonest.

They expressed their gratitude to the court for granting the parties leave to explore settlement out of court.

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