A coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Akwa Ibom State has called on the House of Assembly to quicken the passage of the bill for the amendment of the Traditional Rulers’ Law Cap 155 of the State 2022 without further delay.
The bill sponsored by the executive was subjected to a public hearing on Friday.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Uyo after the public hearing of the bill on Friday, the coalition comprising, Center For Human Rights and Accountability Network, led by Otuekong Franklyn Isong; People’s Rights to Life Development Foundation by, Ifot N. Ifot and Vital Partners for Development led by Dr Victor David, explained that the bill when passed into law would upgrade the status of the Traditional institutions of Akwa Ibom State.
According to the leadership of the CSOs, the bill when passed into law would enable the Oku Ibom Ibibio- which is the highest traditional stool in Akwa Ibom to be on a par with other traditional stools in other states such as the Sultan of Sokoto. Obong of Calabar, Olu of Warri, Emir of Kano, Oba of Benin, and Obi of Onitsha among others.
While stressing that the law would give room for the royal fathers in the state not to be treated as second fellows before their counterparts, the leaders of the civil society organizations called on the state governor Pst Umo Éno, to immediately assent to the bill when passed into law
“CSOs are saying that this bill should be passed into law without further delay so that our royal fathers should be accorded the same respect as their counterparts in other states, we cannot continue like this.
“The bill has already upgraded the status of the principal law we have and when assented to, it will now be Akwa Ibom State Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers and no longer Traditional Rulers Council this is in section 43 of the principal law as amended. If this had been done before now, it would have put the state in a different light, it is long overdue.”
The group also called on the political class and government at all levels to ensure full implementation of the law when passed, by according maximum respect to the royal fathers as done in other states regretting the minimal respect given to them in the past.
“If the amended law is passed, we will have Vice Presidents 1 and 2 who shall be appointed by the governor apart from Oku Ibom, Akwa Okuku Annang and Ata Oro from the three ethnic groups in the state and Oku Ibom will become the highest stool from the largest ethnic group”, they further explained.