By Esekong Essiet
The tussle to produce a substantive village head for Awa Iman community lingers as the matter at the Onna Traditional Rulers Council Chambers in Abat, the council headquarters,ended in a stalemate yesterday.
The paramount ruler of Onna Local Government Area, Edidem Raymond Timothy Inyang, who presided over the case at Onna Local Government Traditional Rulers Council Chambers, adjourned the case indefinitely after so manyfireworks from the candidates, interest groups and the Onna Traditional Rulers Council members.
Speaking first about the vacant stool, the presiding chairman of Awa Iman Village Council, Chief Emmanuel Thomas Etuk, told the Traditional Rulers Council that at the level of the Awa Iman Village Council, there was a winner among the three candidates jostling for the position of the village head.
Etuk further said that at the Village Council level, election was conducted and in that election, Chief Ubong Effang emerged winner, noting that from consultations, the three cardinal processes employed in the selection of a village head in Ibibio Land which, he said, is libation-pouring, selection and declaration of winner was suggested.
According to him, since this is a modern era, he himself, with the agreement of his Village Council, expunged the aspect of libation-pouring from the process.
He added that since three families with three different candidates claimed it was their turn to rule Awa Iman, a selection process of election was employed where Chief Ubong Effang, Family Head of Nung Akpabio Isemin Abia emerged with seven votes against Chief Essien Samuel Essien who had two votes as well as Chief Nkanta Sunday’s zero vote, as he declined voting for or against himself.
The paramount ruler, Edidem Raymond Timothy Inyang,who is chairman and chief custodian of the law and tradition in Onna, at the Council Chambers, Abat, thanked the outgoing presiding chairman of Awa Iman Village Council, Chief Emmanuel Thomas Etuk, for doing a nice job at the Village Council level.
The monarch, while speaking further, implored Awa Iman people who came out in numbers to the Council Chambers, to be at peace with each other as the session lasted, saying, “I want to thank the presiding chairman of Awa Iman Village Council for leading the Awa Iman Village Council responsibly.
“In the Village Council level, he did the right thing by first, expunging the complicated libation-pouring aspect of the process, bringing in election option and also ensuring only heirs to the Village Headship throne voted,” Edidem Inyang noted.
He mentioned that following the absence of a village head in Awa Iman since 2020, the village has missed a lot of good things.
The paramount ruler, who is one of them, assured that his Council will take care of the lingering issue and also resolve the problems militating against the emergence of a substantive village head in Awa Iman in no distant time.
“Here in the Traditional Rulers Council, we follow tradition and as well, weigh the process whether it is in tandem with the law. Here in this edict, there are guidelines, rules and regulations governing the conduct of selection of village head, clan head and paramount ruler.
“The Traditional Rulers Council is saddled with the authority to mirror the grey areas in situations where there is conflict and or dispute. Our work in the Traditional Rulers Council is to bring peace where there was disagreement, conflicts, dispute and tension,” he explained.
Edidem Inyang further disclosed that the Traditional Rulers Council in Onna is also foreseeing the system of rotation in Onna, especially where there is always conflict in selection of a village head.
After listening to the pleas of aspirants, members of Awa Iman community and the Onna Traditional Rulers Council members, Edidem Inyang said that from the document obtained from the Akwa Ibom Council of Chiefs Chambers in Uyo, Awa Iman community has only seven registered families, as such only the seven families are recognised as families in Awa Iman.
The monarch further said that out of the seven recognised families, only four of them are heirs to Awa Iman village headship throne and asked that the four family heads indicate their presence and also file for election. But, the overwhelming jeering from diversionary natives of Awa Iman put the process on hold for the time being.
Repeated attempts by the Traditional Rulers Council to follow the process as outlined by the Akwa Ibom State Local Government edict proved abortive following heightened insistence on the part of Awa Iman people to stop the process.
The paramount ruler, after series of failed pleas to Awa Iman people, mainly the youths, to allow the selection exercise to run and have a peaceful ending, postponed the exercise indefinitely to a yet to be announced date.
Meanwhile, Chief Nkanta Sunday, family head of Nung Nkanta and one of the candidates to the stool, during the exercise, withdrew from the contest and threw his support to the candidacy of Chief Samuel Essien, a former presiding chairman of Awa Iman Village Council.
A native of Awa Iman community, and president, Akwa Ibom Youth Council, Barr Theodore Williams, in his reaction, thanked the Onna Traditional Rulers Council for wading into the matter, urging the Council to do the right thing for Awa Iman to experience peace.
Present at the event were the Divisional Police Officer (DPO)for Onna, the head, Department of Security Services (DSS) in Onna, and other heads of security services.
Also present on the occasion were clan head of Oniong Clan, clan head of Nung Ndem, head, Council of Village Heads in Onna, members of the Onna Traditional Rulers Council and members of staff of Onna Traditional Rulers Council, among others.