Okon Bassey in Uyo
Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Akwa Ibom State chapter, has said the amended Traditional Council Law Cap 55 assented to by the state Governor, Mr. Umo Eno, was discriminatory and offensive in nature.
The CLO berated the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for passing the controversial law without consulting the country’s extant law.
Briefing journalists in Uyo, the state Chairman of the organisation, Godknows Njoku, said the bill should have been declared null and void because of its inconsistencies.
He said the CLO rescinded its decision to join in legal action against the law because the governor has consistently told the traditional rulers to write to the government if they are not comfortable with the law.
The state TRC Law has generated controversies in the state after it was passed into law with various youths and women groups as well as traditional rulers from the minority ethnic groups, including Annnag, Oro, and others, opposing the law.
The law grants perpetual leadership of the Traditional Rulers Council to the Oku Ibom Ibibio, disregarding the longstanding rotational provision among all the paramount rulers in the state.
The bill birthed the new Supreme Council of Akwa Ibom Traditional Rulers with the Ibibio patriarch and Oku Ibom Ibibio Nteyin Solomon Etuk as the president-general for life.
Njoku said: “The matter is now in court, but we can safely say that the state House of Assembly, with respect, did not consider many things, especially the extant laws of the country before they came to that conclusion.
“We are of the view as a body that the state House of Assembly should have consulted the extant laws of the country, especially with regard to Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution as amended in 2023 by looking at how it will affect other minority tribes. The law as it is being passed now is discriminatory in nature, as well as offensive.
“We trust that by God’s grace, the court will do justice to it if this matter will continue, and by the extent of its inconsistencies, it should be declared null and void. We are of the view that the traditional rulers should look at it, and we call upon them to reason together and come up with one voice if they do not want it.
“The CLO is of the view to apply to join in the suit but we may not join again having considered the good intention of the state governor, who has indicated interest and had publicly said he does not intend to marginalise or witch-hunt any particular group of people in the state, and that they should write to the state government if they did not want it.”