There appears to be revolution in the air in Akwa Ibom State, where traditional rulers of Annanf extraction, as well as their counterparts from other minority ethnic groups in the state have vowed to resist with the last drop of their blood, the implementation of the newly amended and controversial traditional rulers law.
The law has generated so much heat since last month when it was passed by the state house of assembly. Paramount rulers of the all the local governments in the state, except those of the Ibibio speaking local councils have been fighting against the law and have made several representations to the governor, Pastor Umo Eno on the issue.
They have insisted that the law must be revisited to address what they see as the subtle insult of traditional rulers from Annang and other ethnic blocs, including the Oro and Ibiono people.
In their latest petition to the governor, the traditional rulers said the new law was discriminatory, insulting and an indication of deprivation of their rights as provided for in sections 47 and 48 of the amended law.
They stated that “the 2022 version of the Traditional Rulers Law, Cap: 155, has been a living and a balanced law that has the good of the citizens of Akwa Ibom state at heart without prejudice but gallantly and legally regulating the traditional institution in Akwa lbom State.
“With this, it should remain a sacred enshrinement and a perfect law. We confront bitterly, the discriminatory provision in the purported law, section 47 (1) and section 18 which creates the office of the President-General of the New Supreme Council of Traditional Ruler only for the Oku Ibom [biblo and a life-long tenure without rotation at all amongst other ethnic groups.
“This is selfishness. We are in opposition even to the provision made for the Vice President 1
and 11 which seems a mockery to our identity and an insult to our age-long tradition and culture of respect for others, not minding birth, age, tribe, religion and language. They said the law was bias and must not be allowed to stand.
Those who endorsed the latest letter to the governor were HRM, Akuku Johnson(Oruk Anam) as well paramount rulers from Obot Akara, Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Ika, Ukanafun, Essien Udim, Urur Offon Oruko, Okobo, Mbo, Ibeno and Eastern Obolo.
According to the royal fathers, “whoever baby-seated the amendment of 2022
Traditional Rulers Law 155, an agent of conflict and is in direct affront with the Litmus of section 12 (2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which prohibits a citizen being deprived just for sake of circumstance of birth.
“We are opposing the office of the President General of the Traditional Rulers Council but still advocating positively for the office of the ChairmanTraditional Rulers Council who knows what his functions are for the period of the two years by law.”
The royal fathers expressed the fear that the new law was capable of dividing the state. “For Akwa lbom to remain in one fold, the office of the Chairman should remain only and should be rotatory while the office of Oku Ibom Ibiblo remains only for their ethnic group – Ibiblo, while the Annang Nation will continue to have the Okuku Annang and then Akta Oro for Oron Nation.