In a bid to quelling the village head tussle currently raging the Utu Ikot Ekpenyong Village in Ikot Ekpene local government area of Akwa Ibom State, the State Government has issued a press statement declaring Chief Sunday Ibanga Umoh an impostor and consequently barring him from parading himself as the Village Head of the area.
In a press chat yesterday addressed by the Commissioner, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Udo Ekpenyong, Chief Sunny Ibanga was forbidden from henceforth conducting the affairs of the Village as the Head, while “innocent members” of the public were as well advised to be careful while dealing with him.
Taking members of the press through the situation of things, the Commissioner recalled that it all started in August 2013 when after the demise of the then Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong, Chief Udo Ekong Akpan, the family head of Nto Ikan, Chief Alfred Ekpo JP nominated and presented Chief Sunny Ibanga to other kingmakers to become the succeeding Village Head.
Udo Ekpenyong explained that Otukong Ibanga had accepted the post in good faith as evident in the minutes of the Ikot Ekpenyong Traditional Rulers Council of November 12, 2013 which reads thus: “Chief Sunny Ibanga thanked the Paramount Ruler, the Clan Head Elect of Amayan Clan, other Council Members, the eight family heads of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong and the entire people of the village for accepting him to be presented….”
Following his acceptance and willingness to exist in that capacity, Chief Sunny Ibanga’s name was said to have been sent to the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs by Ikot Ekpene Traditional Rulers Council which recommended him for recognition and certification. The Commissioner stressed that the letter was received by the Akwa Ibom State Government on April 15, 2014 which eventually prompted the issuance of that recognition to him.
Accordingly, Chief Sunny Ibanga was said to have rejected the office with a letter entitled, “NOTIFICATION OF REJECTION OF CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION AS VILLAGE HEAD ISSUED TO ME BY YOUR OFFICE” and dated October 27, 2014, in which he sent to the Office of the Commissioner, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and copied the Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police, the State Director, State Security Service and the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Akwa Ibom State.
Sequel to that letter in which Sunny Ibanga declared his lack of interest in discharging his duties in that capacity, the Akwa Ibom State Government under the leadership of His Excellency Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel is recently said to have revoked the recognition earlier issued to him in 2014, asking him to stop parading himself as the village Head of the area.
Meanwhile, the Ikot Ekpene Traditional Rulers Council has forwarded to the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs a letter of recommendation and recognition in favour of Otuekong Dr. Jimmy Akpan Essien as the authentic Village Head of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong.
The Commissioner assured that the recognition certificate would soon be issued to the aforementioned Royal father to ‘authenticate his operations’.