The Youth President of Utu Ikot Ekpeyong in Ikot Ekpene LGA, Mr Idongesit Ibanga, have called on Governor Udom Emmanuel to get educated on the procedures to be followed in the selection of a Village Head, insisting that Chief Sunny Ibanaga remains the lawfully elected village head of the community.
Addressing the youths on Wednesday during a peaceful protest in the community, Mr Ibanga berated the Akwa Ibom State Government (AKSG), over moves to impose a village head on the community, insisting that Chief Sunny Ibanaga remains the lawfully elected village head.
He noted with dismay that the law stipulates that for anyone to be elected a Village Head, the nominee must he selected by the Family Heads, after which the candidate will be presented to the Clan Head whose duty it will be to forward the nominee to the Paramount Ruler who will then present the Candidate to the State Government.
He frowned at the announcement of Anthony Akpan as the new Village Head over the radio by the AKSG, insisting that Anthony Akpan remains an imposter while also submitting that the traditional stool of Utu Ikot Ekpeyong remains cultural and not political.
“The whole issue behind the crisis is politics but what they fail to understand is that Utu Ikot Ekpeyong traditional stool is hereditary by the Nto Ikan family. It’s a cultural thing not political. Its the people who should decide. Anthony Akpan is an alien and we can’t accept it”, he said.
Also speaking, Pastor Solomon Ekanem, said the Village already have Chief Sunny Ibanga as village head who was accepted by Okuku Assiak, the then Paramount Ruler of the area.
He described as absurd the announcement of a new village head on AKBC radio, warning that bringing a total stranger to rule over the Villagers is totally unacceptable.
“We don’t want disunity in the village. The Village has been peaceful, well organised. The State Government should know that the Village Head stool in Utu Ikot Ekpeyong is not vacant”, he admonished.
He advised the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs not to attempt to impose a village head on the community but to rather ask the family heads who they presented to take over after the demise of the late Village Head.
Reacting also, the Village Chairman, UbongAbasi Ita Peter said there can be no other Village Head and will never be any other apart from Chief Sunny Ibanga.
The Police also addressed the youths who gathered at the Village square for a peaceful protest.
Opposing the moves from the State Government to impose a non indigene as Village Head, the family heads in a letter to the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, said the unauthorized announcement of nonexistence of Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong on AKBC radio could undermine the peace and stability of the community if the will of the people is undermined.
The letter reads in parts, “It has been brought to the notice of the Council of Chiefs and indeed the village council and the entire people of Utu Ikot Ekpeyong in Ikot Ekpene LGA and the TV announcement on Akwa Ibom State Television Cooperation of the non existence of a Village Head in Utu Ikot Ekpeyong”.
“This announcement is not unconnected with the rumour going round that our Village Head, Chief Sunny Ibanga Umoh has been removed as Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpeyong to the Traditional Rulers Council (TRC) with Okuku A.J. E. Assiak, the then Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene as Chairman”.
The family heads recalled that in October 2013, the village council formally presented Chief Sunny Ibanga Umoh as the Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpeyong to the Traditional Rulers Council (TRC) with Okuku A.J. E. Assiak, the then Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene as Chairman and that the presentation was done after due process of selection of Village Head as made by the family heads which is statutorily provided by the edict.
According to the release, the Village Council and the people of Utu Ikot Ekpeyong started accorded Chief Sunny Ibanga Umoh the honour, respect and authority of the Village Head without any petition or litigation from any of the Family Heads who are empowered to choose a Village Head by the Traditional Edict on the demise of the former Village Head.
” While waiting for the Certificate of Recognition from your office and Government of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Sunday Ibanga Umoh started the function of the Village Head as he was the Village Head Elect including the renovation of the Village Council Hall”.
“Sometimes in 2014, a Certificate of Recognition was issued after due process, recognizing Chief Sunday Ibanga Umoh as the Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong Village, Ikot Ekpene L.G.A. But surprisingly, the said certificate was sent by the government direct to Chief Sunday Ibanga Umoh in his house at Utu Ikot Ekpenyong”.
“Based on the manner and way the certificate was presented to him, Chief Sunday Ibanga Umoh, he advised the government officials to deliver it to the then Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area, Okuku A. J. E. Assiak (now Late) for official presentation as usual”.
” Until now, the said certificate has not been presented to Chief Sunday Ibanga Umoh our duty elected Village Head. In the light of the above facts, we vehemently request that the Certificate of Recognition already issued in the name of our Village Head, Chief Sunday Ibanga Umoh as stated above be released to him”, the release stated.
They warned that Mr. Anthony Jimmy Akpan, Mr. Clement Udo Akpan, Mr. Christopher Udo Iseh, Mr. Samuel Udo Udo, Mr. Joseph Aniefiok Umoh and others should desist from parading Anthony Akpan, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police as the Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong as he was not duly selected, elected and presented to the TRC and the Paramount Ruler, Late Okuku A. J. E. Assiak by the Family Heads as the Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong as provided by the edict.
“We want to emphasize here and inform you that the recognized Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong which is not political but by Custom and Tradition is Chief Sunday Ibanga Umoh. The likes of Anthony Akpan and others are causing disaffection and social disorder as well as taking laws into their hands which may lead to break down of law and lost of life and property in the village”, they warned.