A High Court sitting in Calabar on Monday ordered the Cross River State Government to pay a compensation fee of fifty million Naira (N50m) to His Royal Majesty, Dr Ntui Atue Oru Ojong, Paramount Ruler of Etung Local Government Area of the state. The compensation is for the emotional and psychological trauma the monarch has been through during his suspension.
The document also ordered that the Paramount Ruler be reinstated after the former suspended him without following due process.
In the Suit No.: HC/96/2022, between HRM Ntui Atue (Dr) Oru Ojong as claimant and the Cross River State Government, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and four others as defendants, the court ordered that “the paramount ruler be reinstated”.
In the judgement delivered by the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Elias O. Abua, on March 23, 2023, the court stated that the claimant, HRM Ntui Atue (Dr) Oru Ojong, a recognised Paramount Ruler and head of Traditional Rulers Council of Etung Local Government was suspended without following due process of the law.
The court averred that there is no section of the law which authorises the State Government to slam a suspension order on a Paramount Ruler, rather the law only authorised the Government to withdraw the certificate of recognition that is given to a Paramount Ruler.
The court further stated 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 traditional rulers cap T4 Vol.6 laws of Cross River State 2004.
“Therefore, illegal, unlawful, arbitrary, wrongful, null and void”, adding that “the claimant was never given fair hearing as far as the matter was concerned”, Abua’s judgement stated.
The court further restrained the State Government from issuing any certificate of recognition to anyone under the guise of Paramount Ruler of Etung Local Government, since HRM Oru Ojong was never dethroned nor his certificate of recognition withdrawn.
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The court, however, issued an order nullifying every act or done, the document signed by the 6th defendant, Ntufam Raphael Ekuri Agbor, in his capacity and desist forthwith from parading himself as acting Paramount Ruler of Etung Local Government.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining 1st and 4th defendants, their agents, servants and privies from ever recognising or issuing a certificate of recognition to Ntufam Raphael Ekuri Agbor as Paramount Ruler of Etung Local Government Area while the claimant is still the Paramount Ruler and President of the Traditional Council – his certificate of recognition having not been revoked or withdrawn”, Abua’s judgement warned.
The reinstated royal father was suspended from office by the State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade in May 2021, without any benefit to him. The court, however, ordered he should be reinstated with all benefits that ought to have accrued to his office and be paid to him.
In a brief interaction with the reinstated Paramount Ruler at his Ikom Residence on Monday, April 3, 2023, in Ikom the commercial centre of Cross River State, he expressed happiness over the issue, saying, “I thank God that the court which is the last hope of the common man still exist.
“I have forgiven all those who conspired and frame me up for reasons best known to them.
“I was framed up that I ate the royalty money meant for Cocoa Landlord Communities of Etung, today the State Government has begun payment. So, where did I misappropriate the cocoa fund?” The monarch questioned.
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