by crossriverwatch admin
Some traditional rulers in Cross River State, under the umbrella of Efut Combined Assembly, have taken the state government to the National Judicial Commission (NJC) over what they called corrupt use of “Nolle Prosequi” as an instrument for personal and political vendetta by the government.
The petition, which was signed by Secretary General of the Assembly, Ndabu Godwin Bassey, noted that state government had on August 9, 2010, set up an administrative panel of enquiry to look into the tussle for succession to the throne of Muri-Munene of Efut Kingdom and up till now, no white paper has been issued.
In the heat of the tussle, the Muri-Munene and Paramount Ruler of Efut Kingdom in the state, Efiong Edem Okon Mbukpa, was attacked and assaulted in his palace on April 25, 2012, by some persons whom he described as hoodlums in traditional attires and were arrested and charged to court for attempted murder.
On the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) opinion, the charges were reviewed to felony, assault, stealing and breaking, and breaking and damaging of palace property and the matter has been proceeding in Calabar Magistrate’s Court 1 since 2012 and the last adjourned date was August 14, 2014.
But in a surprised move, the state government, through its Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Atta Ochinke, in a letter dated July 1, 2014, wrote to the Chief Magistrate’s Court, seeking to discontinue the criminal proceedings against the said hoodlums that had attempted to kill him (Munene).
Ochinke in the letter said: “In exercise of the powers conferred on me by the virtue of paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 211 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended and of all other laws enabling me in that behalf, I, Attah Ochinke, Attorney General of Cross River State, hereby discontinue the criminal proceedings against the accused persons in the above-mentioned charge”.
This action, according to Efut Combined Assembly, was not in order as “the attorney general is yet to move the court of discontinuing the proceeding as the matter was adjourned to August 14, 2014”.
Again, the Calabar High Court 2, according to the Assembly, had on July 2 2013, issued that “an order of Mandamus be and is hereby directed to the government of Cross River State to publish the report and white paper in line with the report of the administrative panel of enquiry into the tussle for succession to the throne of Muri Munene of
Efut”. Both parties are in the Court of Appeal, Calabar, on this matter.
In view of this, the traditional rulers in their petition to NJC, said: “We fear for our lives, particularly that of our paramount chief if those who wanted to kill and destroy the ancient ‘royal stool/throne’ and other palace property, are allowed to go.
“We are pleading with you to urge the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Cross River State, Atta Ochinke, to cause public interest, interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process to prevail in this matter before it comes up on August 14, 2014”.
Commenting on the matter, Munene said: “My crime is that I asked that the report of the panel be published since it was public fund used in setting that panel because the public has the right to know…I cannot understand because the government of Cross River State is a law abiding citizen. The governor is a lawyer and he is a beneficiary of the law.
“He has benefited from the court, so I do not think that the governor of this state is aware of what the Attorney of this state has done. We have written to the governor to inform him, I am yet to receive his reaction but without being told, I believe and know that the governor cannot ask that they use crude and wicked position of the law to hit an innocent person. I have not done them any wrong but I know that those who are fighting me are not fighting me, they are fighting God”.
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