By Magnus Effiong
In line with the Supreme Court judgment which ordered a fresh selection process for the stool of the Obong of Calabar, the Etuboms’ Conclave of Efik kingdom has again selected and proclaimed His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V as the Obong of Calabar.
Recall that the Apex Court, in its judgment on January 13, 2023 had dismissed a lawsuit brought before it by a contender for the throne, Etubom Anthony Ani, who from 2008 had challenged the selection of Edidem Abasi-Otu as Obong of Calabar from the High Court up to the Apex Court.
The Supreme Court had upheld the judgment of the Appeal Court which had earlier disqualified Etubom Ani from the Obongship contest for not being capped, and which also ordered for a fresh election. Reports say the Conclave had carried out the Appeal Court-ordered re-selection process in 2013.
“The 1st Respondent (Etubom Ani) who admittedly was not capped/inducted into the Etuboms’ Council of the Palace of the Obong by the Obong at the time of the selection process of the Obong of Calabar, was not traditionally qualified and eligible to vote and be voted for as the Obong of Calabar under Exhibit 1/20.
“That the 1st Appellant (Edidem Abasi-Otu) was traditionally qualified and eligible to vote and be voted for as the Obong of Calabar under Exhibit 1/20 at the time of the selection process,” The Appeal Court had said.
As expected, Etubom Ani and his legal team had disagreed with the Appeal Court verdict and took the matter to the Supreme Court whose judgment generated tension across the Efik kingdom.
However, in total obedience to the Apex Court Judgment, the Conclave, after hours of painstaking reselection process, conveyed to Journalists who had kept vigil at the Obong’s Palace, the result of the re-selection, saying the process was successful with all the Etuboms going for the Monarch.
This was contained in a statement signed by HRH Etubom Ntiero Edem Ofiong Effiwat, Chairman, Etuboms’ Conclave, the Secretary, HRH Etubom Edem Ita Esien Ededem and 12 others.
“Following the judgment of the Supreme Court sitting at Abuja on 13th January,2023 ordering that the Etuboms’ Conclave, the kingmakers of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar should “conduct another process of selecting Obong of Calabar in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Etuboms’ Council 2002 and in strict compliance with the rules of natural justice,” among other things, the Etuboms’ Council has promptly complied with that Court order by taking all the necessary steps leading to and convening the Etuboms’ Conclave and conducting another selection of Obong of Calabar.
“The turn to produce the next Obong of Calabar, after the demise of His Eminence Edidem (Prof) Nta Elijah Henshaw VI, being that of the Atai lboku group of Houses (in Western Calabar) as provided for under The Constitution of Etuboms’ Council 2002, the qualified Etuboms, who fall under this group, were communicated to and directed to produce and present their nominee to the Etuboms’ Conclave by Wednesday, 18th January, 2023.
“The most senior Etubom of the Atai lboku group, HRH Etubom Otu Efa Otu, presented their selected nominee for the throne of the Obong of Calabar in the person of HRH Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu of Adiabo lkot Mbo House.
“Having been fully satisfied with the candidate’s qualification and eligibility, the Etuboms Conclave therefore declared him the successor, and hereby conveys his Proclamation as the successor to the throne of Obong of Calabar today,18th January, 2023,” the Kingmakers stated.
This may have brought to an end the 15 years of intense legal fireworks for the stool as peace gradually returns to the ancient city of Calabar after days of tension.