In this interview with His Royal Majesty Pere S.P.Luke, Kalanama V111, the Pere of Akugbene Mein Kingdom, in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, in his Palace Akugbene with OUR SENIOR WRITER, CLETUS OPUKEME Delta State. The monarch said his palace Court is better than the Nigerian Supreme Court which he is the Chief Judge. He tells how local courts in his kingdom dispense justice with high order of mechanism. Enjoy the Excerpts.
May we know you sir
I am His Royal Majesty Pere S.P.Luke, Kalanama V111, the Pere of Akugbene Mein Kingdom. I was born in the late 60s. I had my primary and secondary schools in Akugbene town. Thereafter, I went into trading for about seven years before I gained admission into the prestigious Rivers state University of Science and Technology, Port-Harcourt where I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology.
Now, I am studying a master’s degree in corporate governance in Leeds Metropolitan University United Kingdom.
How is life generally as a traditional ruler?
First, I want to thank God Almighty for all that he has done for me. I understand that the life of a traditional ruler is quite challenging. Is like a man who was living in a particular planet and suddenly was asked to switch over to live in another planet. Is like every institutions, they have their peculiar challenges. What is important is the ability to manage your challenges make up a person. For 31 years in my life I was an ordinary citizen. But about 17 years ago I have been a traditional ruler. God has been faithful to me as I conquer all the challenges. There are a lot of ups and downs. I know that for every man’s life God has a purpose and destiny for every man, according to the Bible in Jeremiah 1, he said “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, I know you” God has actually prepared me from childhood to become somebody in my life.
The challenges are quite enormous but they cannot over run me. God has actually given me the strength to overcome these challenges.
How do you manage your social life as a traditional ruler?
Yes, before I became a traditional ruler, my childhood friend who is my traditional prime minister, Alaowei Joseph Tubode Penawou was my very good childhood friend and others. I knew how we used to move and enjoy ourselves in social clubs in the night in those days. Social life was booming in those days. There was no case of insecurity, you can walk freely with nobody molesting or harassing you with questions. You can visit night clubs, disco clubs with friends at anytime and anywhere. Well, I don’t regret as a traditional ruler for losing some of my former aspects of social life. Social life has been cut off completely. You now wear the crown and the crown represents the entire kingdom. All eyes are on you. The crown symbolizes the entire clan, whatever you do, you are cautious of the implication or the consequence of your action. You know, now not an ordinary citizen. You are a citizen that takes care of every subject in your kingdom. You are one that everybody is being looked unto. One is mindful of what one does socially as a traditional ruler in public. Like I said, there is no success you can achieve without God. God has been grateful to me and for helping me.
How do you settle disputes in your kingdom?
One of the primary responsibilities of a traditional ruler is to settle disputes and to handle issues for subjects in your kingdom. We have several ways of settling disputes. We have the local way of settling disputes. For instance in my kingdom, we have different local courts that settle disputes. Particularly like the seat of the throne, which is the highest court. We have the eldest man’s court. We have the family head court as well. But where one is not comfortable with the judgment or settlement in a lower court, the Palace court acts as a supreme court where all disputes end. Whatever that is resolved in the palace court, cannot be reviewed elsewhere and I am the Chief Judge in the palace court.
That is why the palace court can be likened to that of the Supreme Court. There are high standard dispute settling mechanisms we used that act as alternate court. These disputes are between husband and wife, within families in the same communities and inter-communities.
How do we handle all these things?
The choice is within the litigants to allow us to decide their cases. If you go to our Nigerian courts, a case that would ordinarily take you within two days will take you for years and you may not secure justice, sometimes in the end. In Nigerian judicial systems, the case will be dragged on and on for years and where you do not have money to pay your lawyer, you may lose a case. And in most cases, it is said that the Nigerian judicial system is corrupt and one who bids the highest wins cases. My palace court is better than the Nigerian Supreme Court. Members of the judges are incorruptible, efficient, cheap and delivers judgment in short time.
Such thing do not exist in our local courts. In our local courts, no matter your financial standing or positions in the society, nobody can bend or buy justice. Some persons preferred to go to the alternative dispute resolution communal courts, that is the palace court to resolve dispute than the formal Nigerian judicial system of courts.
What is your take on the spate of insecurity in the Northern part of the nation?
Well, today, precisely, Nigeria is 15 years practicing democracy. There are so many things to celebrate about. But one particular thing that has been bedeviling about the nation is insecurity, the Boko Haram menace has stopped people from celebrating the democracy day.
Yes, of a truth 15 years of uninterrupted democracy is something worthy of celebration. But the security situation in the country has made it practically impossible for people to celebrate, to come together in places like Abuja, particularly the three Northern states where Boko Haram insurgency is high that state of emergency has been declared by the federal Government.
What actually disturbed the minds of Nigerians is the abduction of the Chibok Girls School Children by Boko Haram, which has actually attracted world condemnation. The world body has actually shown concern by requesting to help Nigerian Government to find a lasting solution to overcome the menace. This kind of thing is not experienced in many nations where citizens bomb their own country. People have to show sober reflection for those victims Boko Haram has killed and the Chibok Children in abduction.
I want to seize this opportunity to tell the various security agencies to have a coordinated approach to tackle the insecurity. Mr. President Gave the military a blanket cheque that the military should go out and use whatever it takes to activities of Boko Haram under control, within the ambit of the law and any form of insecurity in any part of the nation.
What is your take in Mr. President Declaration to stay in office beyond 2015?
We the Ijaw traditional rulers or South-South Traditional rulers have commended Mr. President for listening to our call to re-contest. He has done so much in so many areas and we wanted him to re-contest. I am appealing to Nigerians to give him their votes in the interest of Nigerians.
On this note, I also want to call on Nigerians to give the military the necessary support to do their job. It is only God that is the omnipresent and omniscience. The military is not God and it is not all knowing. The Nigerian military needs our support to win the war against terrorism. The military can only work with the information given by the civilians on the street. I want to call on every Nigerian to give that support by divulging the necessary information needed by the military that will act as a tool to carry out their task diligently for the benefit of Nigerians and to the Glory of God.
What is your relationship with the Delta state Government and how does that relationship reflects in the lives of your subjects?
We are grateful to God Almighty for given us a Governor that is understanding, listening and respects the traditional institutions. Right from the inception of Democracy in 1999, this is the second governor and by the special grace of God. I have a cordial relationship with the governors. In terms of benefits or how our relationship reflects in the lives of my subjects. There is a motorable road connected to some communities from Gbaregolor to my kingdom. That is the first phase. There is a collaborative effort by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to extend the road to the seat of my kingdom, Akugbene.
Then, if you are talking about peace and security, the governor has done so much. Before 1999 there was high wave of crime of kidnapping and sea-piracy and pipeline vandalism in Delta state and some parts in Niger Delta. The three Warri local Government areas were hotbed of violence. His predecessor Chief James Onanefe Ibori tried so much to address it. But when Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan came on board, he finally put a stop to the increasing violence in the three Warri ethnic nationalities and by extension to every Ijaw community. To a large extend, the menace of kidnapping stopped. Although, there are pockets of violent crimes in some parts of the state. Before today, it was a recurrent decimal that were occurring. There is development in the state because there is peace. There is these popular saying that there is no meaningful development in any society devoid of peace.
I have a very robust personal relationship with the Government of Delta state which translates in positive development in my kingdom. If you are talking about ‘who is who’ of traditional rulers in Delta state. I am also a member of the think-tank that is ‘who is who’ traditional rulers in Delta state council of traditional rulers. I have played very vital roles and is seen by every member of the state traditional council. That is made possible because the chairman of the state traditional council, His Royal Majesty, The Olu of Warri and his two able lieutenants, His Royal; majesties, The Ovie of Owha and Orodje of Okpe. I am most grateful to them and God Almighty.