There will be no court battle over the modified Traditional Rulers Law, Cap 155 between the government of Akwa Ibom State and the Traditional Rulers Council (TRC) in the state.

As a result of the revision of TRC Law Cap 155, which grants Oku Ibom Ibibio, Ntenyin Etuk, life and permanent Presidency, certain royal fathers have taken the Akwa Ibom State administration, the State Assembly, and Ntenyin Solomon Etuk to court.

The Paramount Rulers of Urueffong Oruko, Okobo, Mbo, Eastern Obolo, Ibeno, Oron, and Udung Uko Local Government Areas, as well as all Paramount Rulers of Annang descent, filed suit to rotate the venerated traditional stool.

On Thursday, however, counsel for the plaintiffs, former Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and plaintiffs’ counsel Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim, led by plaintiffs’ counsel Barrister Jumbo Udom, made an oral application to the Court for leave to explore settlement outside of Court and for a brief adjournment for parties to report settlement.

Ntekim said in his application that the parties’ shared goal of peace in the State was the driving force.

The Director of Civil Litigation, Barrister Bassey Ekanem, representing State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Uko Udom, SAN, was not pleased with the oral application.

However, he argued that the plaintiffs should have submitted a written application in accordance with the terms of settlement, even though he confirmed that the State Attorney General and the former Attorney General, Barrister Ntekim, met with the Governor, Pastor Umo Eno to broker a way forward for a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

The Court of Appeal overrode the Attorney General’s representative’s objection, saying trial Courts have a duty to encourage parties to settle issues outside of court, as described in the 2010 case of Habib Bank Plc and Lodigiani Nigeria Limited.

The trial judge, Justice Archibong, stated that the parties’ desire for peace and settlement of the dispute should take precedence above any concerns regarding the form or manner of application.

In interviews with reporters, plaintiffs’ attorneys Barrister Ekpenyong Ntekim and Barrister Uyobong Jumbo Udom voiced optimism that the matter would be resolved quickly due to the State Government’s supportive attitude.

They thanked the judge for letting them try to resolve the dispute without going to trial.

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