By Nsan Ndoma-Neji, Calabar
A Cross River State High Court, sitting in Calabar, the state capital, has reinstated the suspended paramount ruler of Etung Local Government Area of the state, His Royal Majesty, Dr. Ntui Atue, the Oru Ojong.
The court also ordered that the royal father be re-instated with compensation of N50 million be paid to him by the government of Cross River State for the emotional and phycological truama that he suffered during the period of his ordeal.
The court had, in suit No. HC/96/2022, between His Royal Majesty, Ntui Atue (Dr.) Oru Ojong, as the claimant and the Cross River State government, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and four others as defendants, the court ordered that the suspended traditional ruler be re-instated.
In his judgment, the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Elias O. Abua, on March 23, 2023, averred that the claimant is a recognized paramount ruler and head of traditional rulers’ council of Etung Local Government Area, was arbirarily thrown out from his throne without due process of the law.
The judge stated that there is no section of the law that authorizes the state government to slam suspension order on the monarch, rather, the law only authorize state government to withdraw the certificate of recognition that is given to a paramount ruler.
The Calabar High Court further maintained that the suspension was done in breach of the provision of sections 5, 17(1), 21(1) and (2), 27, 28(2), 29 and 30(2) of the Traditional Rulers Laws of Cross River State, 2004, Cap T4 Vol. 6.
The court therefore declared the suspension order placed on the traditional ruler as “illegal, unlawful, arbitrary, wrongful, null and void,” stressing that the claimant was never given fair hearing as far as the matter was concerned.
Justice Abua further restrained the Cross River State government from issuing any certificate of recognition to any individual under the guise of paramount ruler of Etung Local Government Area, given the fact that His Royal Majesty, Oru Ojong, was neither dethroned nor his certificate of recognition retrieved from him.
The court also issued an order nullifing every act or every document signed by the sixth defendant, Ntufam Raphael Ekuri Agbor, in his capacity, urging him to desist forthwith from parading himself as acting paramount ruler of Etung Local Government Area.
It granted “An order of perpetual injunction, restraining first and fourth defendants, their agents, servants and privies from ever recognizing or issuing certificate of recognition to Ntufam Raphael Ekuri Agbor, as paramount ruler of Etung Local Government Area, while the claimant is still paramount ruler and President of the Traditional Council, his certificate of recognition having not been revoked or withdrawn.”
The reinstated royal father was suspended from office by the state governor, in May 2021, without any benefit to him, but the court however ordered that he not only be reinstated, but accruing benefits to his office be paid to him.
Reacting to the court judgement at his Ikom residence on Monday, the reinstated royal father, who spoke with joy beaming on his countenance said, “I thank God that the court, which is the last hope of the common man still exist.
“I have forgiven all those who framed me up for just no reason.
“I was framed up that I ate the royalty money meant for cocoa landlord communities of Etung, today the state government has commenced the payment of that money.
“I did not missapropriate any fund. No funds were misappropriated. Instead government was warming up to defray that debt.