By Abasiofiok Inyang
For the people of Nung Ikot Okusung Village in Nung Ikot Clan, Oruk Anam Local Government Area, the peace that the serene community has enjoyed for several decades is being threatened following an alleged imposition of a Village Head on them by the Akwa Ibom State Government, an action the greater majority of the people of the village have vehemently rejected.
The Sensor learnt that following the death of the former village head, Chief Otobong Okon Udo Idio and completion of his funeral rites in 2013, members of the three families – Nto Awie Afan, Nto Awie Odot and Nto Nung Uko Ewem that make up the village, gathered to select a new village head to pilot the affairs of the village.
It was further learnt that out of the three families, two families, that is, Nto Awie Odot led by their family head, Chief Sunday Jack Udo, and Nto Awie Afang led by their family head, Chief Imo Effiong Umosung, voted for Chief Sunday Jack Akpan, a retired military officer, to succeed Chief Otobong Okon Udo Idio while Chief Tommy Johnson Urom from Nto Nung Uko Ewem voted for Chief Nkereuwem Lazarus.
It was also learnt that with proper selection of Chief Sunday Jack Akpan and his general acceptability by the entire people of the village, Chief Akpan was eventually presented to the Oruk Anam Traditional Rulers Council on September 19, 2013. The council led by late Prof. Brown Owoh, acknowledged Chief Akpan as village head elect and in a letter dated 22nd November, 2013, and signed by TRC Secretary Comr. Mark Etim, recommended Chief Akpan to the State Government as village Head-elect.
The minute of the Oruk Anam TRC that Chief Sunday Akpan was acknowledged as the acting village head of Nung Ikot Okusung which was sighted by The Sensor Correspondent indicate that apart from the TRC chairman, Prof. Brown Owoh, others who were at the meeting were clan head of Obio Akpa, HH, Chief Christian Benjamin Essien, Clan Head of Ndot Clan, HH, Obong Sunday Akpan Otu, Clan Head of Abak Midim, HH Obong Christopher Ntang; Clan Head Ibesit Nung Ikot, HH, Obong Udo Isaac Ikot Ekpo, Clan Head of Nung Ita, HH Obong J.J. Umoren, and Clan Head of Inen, Obong J.J. Obosi.
The Oruk Anam TRC, it was gathered, mandated Chief Sunday Akpan to function as village head while he was being recommended to the Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council for presentation of certificate and staff of office.
However, in a twist of development and in a deliberate attempt by few greedy individuals said to be sponsored by selfish politicians, Chief Nkereuwem Lazarus who was never selected by the people of Nung Ikot Okusung or passed through the vigorous selection processes or being presented to the Oruk Anam Traditional Rulers Council for further recommendation to the State Traditional Rulers Council, was from no where imposed by the government on the people with issuing of certificate of recognition as the village head, an action that has threatened the peace of the community to its very foundation.
Speaking on the action of the State Government, the family head of Nto Awie Afang, Chief Imo Effiong Umosung, condemned the imposition of Chief Nkereuwem Lazarus on the people and called on the government to reverse the erroneous imposition in the interest of peace and justice.
Chief Umosung said that the village head stool in Nung Ikot Okusung had been rotational among the three families that make up the village and wondered why Chief Lazarus from the family of the immediate past village head should be forced on the people.
Also speaking, the family head of Nto Awie Odot, Chief Samuel Jacob Udo said that the village head stool is never hereditary and as such the people maintained the rotational system which he said had been the secret behind the peace enjoyed by the community.
He also chided the State Government for the trouble being instigated to cause crisis in the peaceful community and urged that government should do the right thing by allowing Chief Sunday Akpan that is generally accepted by the community to lead the people as village head. Chief Udo further urged Chief Nkereuwem Lazarus to stop parading himself as village head in the interest of peace.
Reacting to the alleged imposition, Chief Sunday Jack Akpan described the action of the State Government as unfortunate. While urging the people to remain calm and peaceful until justice is given, he said he expressed optimism that God will give him the throne.
The alleged impostor, Chief Nkereuwem Lazarus could not be reached as at the time of filing this report as every effort to get his reaction proved abortive.
The Sensor gathered that another case for village head imposition in Ikot Ekpene Village by the State Government is a serious issue of litigation at Ikot Ekpene High Court.