STATEMENT ON THE PURPORTED DETHRONEMENT OF ETEBOM SAMUEL EFIK, VILLAGE HEAD OF IKOT ABASI ONNIONG/CLAN HEAD OF ONNIONG CLAN, ONNA LGA FROM THE THRONE.
Manfred Ekpe, Esq.
CITIZENS should always avoid acts that may land them in serious trouble. Ignorance of the law is no defense and avails no one excuse under the law.
The Traditional Rulers Law 2022 (as amended) confers power only on the governor to remove a village head, clan head and paramount ruler from office upon report from a panel of investigation set of by the governor, and ONLY if the report indicts the traditional ruler of any offense under the law that is punishable by removal from office. The court of law also has the inherent power to remove a traditional ruler from office upon the commission of offense that attracts such sanction.
WITH PREJUDICE TOWARD NONE, I wish to advise that the meeting in which His Highness was purportedly dethroned, unknown to those involved, constituted an unlawful assembly contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Code Law of Akwa Ibom State to effect an unlawful purpose capable of breach of the public peace, to wit: purporting to remove the village head and clan head from office without any locus so to do in that regard. The purported removal is said to be a dethronement from the traditional stool by a vote of no confidence on the Etebom, an act unknown to law.
In 2015 a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria purported to dethrone the village head of Ikot Ibiok in Eket LGA, Chief Esiet Charles Eno in the like manner as our ONNA brothers. The legal consequences have not left the perpetrators till date.
The consequences of the purported removal of the ONNA monarch from office could attract criminal prosecution of unlawful assembly to commit a felony and criminal libel, as well as civil prosecution for defamation in which case millions of Naira in damages may be awarded in favour of the monarch against the perpetrators.
All those who publish or circulate the libelous story of dethronement of the traditional ruler may also be jointly and severally liable for defamation.
I call for caution, as those involved may have reasons to go into self exile if Chief Efik decides to invoke the full wrath of the law.