Obong of Calabar tussle: Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V remains enthroned
…Supreme decision was complied with since 2013 – Obong’s Palace
By Our Admin
The decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Friday Jan 13, 2023 over the 15 year old legal battle that followed the coronation of Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V as the Obong of Calabar since 2008 created some uncertainty but the reality is that the incumbent Obong of Calabar, remains on his throne in compliance to the Judgement.
The judgement of the Supreme court yesterday upheld the decision of the lower court and dismissed the appeal filed by former Minister of Finance Etubom Anthony Ani against Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V.
Court simply dismissed the Appeal before it for lack of merit and affirmed the verdict of the Court of Appeal as valid on the matter.
The Court of Appeal decision in 2013 was subsequently complied with by the kingmakers following the Court order conducted another process to select the Obong of Calabar in accordance with provisions of the constitution of Etuboms’ Council of 2002 and in strict compliance with the rules of natural justice.
The Etubom’s Council promptly complied and took the necessary steps since 2013 leading to and convening of the Etuboms’ Conclave which conducted another selection process for the position of Obong.”
The Appeal Court verdict had equally foreclosed the agitation by Chief Anthony Ani to the throne of Obong and excluded him from further participation in the selection processes since he was not a capped as an Etubom by a seating Obong in Council.
There were some confusion on Friday in Calabar over the interpretation of the Supreme Court’s verdicts, as some reports claimed that the Obong of Calabar has been dethroned.
It is confirmed that the Obong of Calabar Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V remains in the throne because the verdict of the supreme court only affairmed the judgement of the Appeal Court which had since been complied with.
Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V re-emerged the Obong of Calabar in a process held in 2013 shortly after the Appeal Court judgement that has been concurred by the Supreme Court.
A look back at the events after the verdict of the Court of Appeal, the Conclave of Etubom Traditional Council, re-selected Etubom Ekpo Abasi Otu of Adiabo Ikot Mbo House, who was deposed by the Appeal Court in Calabar to the stool of Obong of Calabar.
The Etubom’s Council had promptly complied with the court order by taking all the necessary steps leading to and convening of the Etuboms’ Conclave which conducted another selection process for the position of Obong.”
A statement then, by 14 Etuboms, representing the 14 ruling houses to the Obong of Calabar, said: “The turn of the ruling house to produce the Obong after the demise of Nta Elijah Henshaw is Atai Iboku group of houses as provided for under the constitution of the Etuboms’ Constitution of 2002.
Accordingly, the most senior Etubom of the Atai Iboku group of houses, Etubom Lawrence Asido presented their unanimously selected nominee for the throne of Obong of Calabar in the person of Etubom Okon Otu. Having been satisfied with the candidate’s qualifications and eligibility and with no dissent whatsoever among the kingmakers, the Etuboms’ Conclave therefore, declared him the successor to the throne of Obong of Calabar.
Coming forward to the present, a five-man panel judgment written by Justice Amina Augie and read by Justice Akomoye Agim in the Supreme Court finally put an end to a legal tussle that has lingered for 15 years.
The Apex court upheld the decision of the lower court and dismissed the appeal filed by former Minister of Finance Etubom Anthony Ani against Etubom Ekpo Okon for lack of merit.
Knowing that the Supreme Court verdict only affairmed the Appeal Court verdict which the Palace had since complied with, jubilation broke out in the Adiabo village, Palace of the Obong on Friday.
Chairman of Etubom Traditional Council, Etubom Bassey Okor Bassey Duke, said they were yet to get full brief of the Supreme Court judgement.
He said: “So far, so good, we are confident that the Obong of Calabar will remain and peace will continually prevail in the kingdom.”
“We are very happy about the outcome of the Supreme Court verdict. This judgement brings an end to what had happened in the last 14 years. Although we are yet to lay hands on it from what we have heard so far, we have reasons to rejoice.
“The reported order for a fresh selection process is not new to us. In 2013, we had a similar verdict and we had to do the bidding of the Court but that does not in any way remove our feelings of happiness from us.
“We had known that nobody can remove the Obong of Calabar from his throne. We are happy that it is not what some people prayed for. It is something pleasant to us because I know at the end of it all, the Obong will maintain his throne.”
The judgement brought to an end the 15-year legal battle purporting to sack the Obong of Calabar in a matter which began from the High Court.
The Petitioner, Etubom Anthony Ani MON, had approached a lower court challenging Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu and others in their capacity as members of Etubom’s Traditional council for allegedly distorting the screening process of the western Calabar when Abasi Otu was the chairman of the council.
Now the final verdict has been entered, So as they say it in the Palace, Long live Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, the Obong of Calabar, the Natural Ruler, Treaty king, Defender of the Christian faith and Grand Patriarch of Efik Kingdom!