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Deputy governor urges lawyers to guide their clients properly

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By Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa

The Bayelsa state government has urged legal practitioners in the state to properly guide their clients based on the merit or otherwise of the cases at hand to avoid unnecessary litigations.

It also cautioned individuals and communities to resist the temptation of engaging in subversive activities aimed at dethroning traditional rulers whose chieftaincy stools have been recognised by law.

The state deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the advice in Yenagoa when he met with the chiefs, elders and other community representatives of Aghoro II community in Ekeremor local government area of the state at his office in Yenagoa, over the disputed Amananaowei stool of the community.

Senator Ewhrudjakpo who reminded lawyers of their professional ethics, said law practice was not just to make money, but deserves honour, integrity and respect as a profession that promotes justice, peace and order in society.

He pointed out that, in some jurisdictions, like Abuja and Lagos, lawyers issued a counsellor’s certificate to their clients, which makes them liable to accept responsibility for any inconveniences arising from ill-advising their clients.

His words: “Those of you that are lawyers have a duty to advise your clients properly. I want you to go back to your professional ethics regarding the duties of a counsel. Litigation is not always be the best option for conflict resolution. That is why we have the multi-door court, that gives options for arbitration, mediation and conciliation.”

Explaining the state Chieftaincy Law, Senator Ewhrudjakpo cited section 28 which states that no individual or group has the right to either dethrone or install a traditional ruler without following due process as stipulated by law.

He, therefore, directed all the parties involved in the Aghoro 2 community leadership conflict to observe status quo with Ojunkonsin Ibamughan still serving as Amananaowei pending the final determination of the issues raised at the meeting.

The deputy governor warned traditional rulers not to see their recognition as license to oppress and short-change their people, as the law also provides a window for their removal.

He further directed all the parties in Aghoro II Community to write and forward their petitions to the state government within two weeks for consideration and possible action.

He said, “Government does not and will never protect any Amananaowei who does wrong things. At the same time, we, as a government, would not sit idly and watch any individual or group of persons take laws into their hand to cause a breach of peace in any community in the state.

“When a traditional stool had been classified by government, it implies that the community cannot arbitrarily remove the occupant of that stool from office; only the government can exercise that power in accordance with the law.”

Presenting his case to the deputy governor, a factional leader, Chief Afro Biukeme, alleged that Chief Ibamughan was removed from office as Amananaowei of Aghoro II Community due to misappropriation of community funds amounting to about N90 million.

Biukeme insisted that the embattled Amananaowei embezzled the funds with his cronies and had since refused to return to the community to give a proper account of the funds as demanded by the people of Aghoro.

In another development, the Bayelsa state government has resolved the face-off that resulted from an error in a land survey map involving some communities in Sagbama and Southern Ijaw local government areas of the state.

Resolving the issue at a meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, the deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, urged the people of Akeddei, Isoni, Anyama-Ibeni and Isampou to live in peace as the cartographical error had been corrected.

While thanking the Ibenanaowei of Oyiakiri Kingdom, King Joshua Igbagara for his efforts, the deputy governor advised communities in the state not to see carrying of arms over land disputes as the best option, but rather seek redress through dialogue or at the lawcourt.

In his remarks, King Joshua Igbagara, pointed out that the Adegbe lake which belongs to the people of Ossiama was ascribed to Akeddei community in the said survey map submitted at the law court over an ongoing land dispute between Isampou and Anyama-Ibeni communities.

He expressed the confidence that, with the correction made in the survey map, the crisis was over for good.

Also speaking, the Amananaowei of Isampou community in Southern Ijaw, Chief Friday Ogbodo, expressed surprised that the Adegbe Lake was mapped in favour of Akeddei community by the surveyor whom his community engaged.

Chief Ogbodo said the fact that the Adegbe lake belongs to Ossiama community was never in dispute and therefore canvassed for peace among the communities in the area.

The paramount rulers of Akeddei, Isampou, Toru-Ebeni, Ossiama, Anyama-Ibeni, and Isoni, including some prominent chiefs from area and top government functionaries, were part of the meeting.

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