In the ongoing dispute surrounding the amended Traditional Rulers Law in Akwa Ibom State, parties involved, including the state government and aggrieved monarchs, have shown a willingness to pursue an out-of-court settlement.
The amended law questionably designates Oku Ibom Ibibio as the lifetime President-General of the Traditional Rulers Council, sparking opposition from traditional rulers of Annang, Oro, and other ethnic groups in the State.
The discontented monarchs had taken legal action against the state government, seeking a reversal of the law. However, in a recent development, all parties involved in the suit, including the Governor, Akwa Ibom State Government, and others, have expressed a collective desire to resolve their differences amicably outside the courtroom.
During the court proceedings, counsel for the plaintiffs, led by Ekpenyong Ntekim, a former Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, made an oral application for permission to explore an out-of-court settlement. Ntekim emphasized that the motivation behind this request was the shared goal of restoring and maintaining peace in the state.
Despite objections from the Attorney General of the State, represented by Uko Udom, SAN, the court overruled the objection, citing a precedent that underscores the duty of trial courts to encourage parties to settle disputes outside of formal legal proceedings. Justice Archibong, the trial judge, emphasized that the crucial factor was the parties’ common desire for peace, downplaying procedural concerns.
Following the court’s decision, counsel for the plaintiffs, Ekpenyong Ntekim, and Uyobong Jumbo Udom expressed optimism about the potential for a swift resolution. They acknowledged the positive disposition of the state government towards settling the dispute and expressed gratitude to the court for granting them the opportunity to explore an out-of-court settlement.
The case highlights an ongoing effort to foster reconciliation and harmony in Akwa Ibom State amidst the disagreements over the amended Traditional Rulers Law.
IMAGE: Crystal Express