Gov Bassey Otu
The Supreme Court recognized Etuboms Traditional Rulers’ Council (TRC) of the palace of the Obong of Calabar has rejected the decision of the Cross River state government recognising Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu bong of Calabar.
The state government had in a statement dated November 7, 2023 recognized Abasi-Otu as the Obong of Calabar thus sparking up further controversies over the revered Efik throne.
Going by the decision of the Supreme court judgment in suit number Sc/633/2013, those who were qualified to conduct the screening of Candidates for the new selection process were Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok as Chairman and Etubom Micah Archibong as Secretary respectively.
In a media briefing in Calabar on Wednesday, the duo said they had duly complied with the Supreme court judgment by inviting all candidates eligible to contest for the position of Obong of Calabar and screened those who presented themselves for that purpose .
According to them, Etubom Anthony Asuquo Ani was found qualified and same proclamation had been made pending when the official coronation will take place.
The Etuboms stated pointedly that the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Prince Bassey Edet Otu has been misled into taking a position which contradicts the judgment of the Supreme court of Nigeria.
According to them, the Supreme court judgment was very clear without any ambiguity when it called for fresh selection process where qualified Etuboms from western Calabar should be in the contest and be guided by the 2002 constitution of the palace and the 2008 composition of the traditional Rulers Council.
This process, they said “was not carried out as prescribed by the judgment rather those who were not qualified to conduct the screening of Candidates were allowed to take part and these persons were not Etuboms abinitio”.
They also.faulted the Governor’s position which relied on a September 25, 2022 decision in suit number Hc/133/2019 adding that “this matter has no relevance with the Supreme court judgment of January 13 , 2023.which was quite explicit”.
The traditional rulers stated emphatically that Etuboms Bassey Okor Bassey Duke, Otu Efa Otu, Etinyin Ekpo Archibong and Architect Bassey Eyo Ndem contemptuously disobeyed the orders of Hon. Justice Ukpai Ibitam by voting in the so-called selection process as they put it.
Again, they said there is no high court judgment delivered on the subject matter of September 25, 2022 adding that they were all part of the Supreme court judgment and are today insisting the proper exercise be carried out while declaring the previous one as Fraudulent.
Citing page 39 , paragraphs 1,2,and 3 of Sc/633/2013 as follows, “as the court of appeal asked in these circumstances, can the two sets of respondents in good, claim and maintain that the first appellant was afforded a fair hearing or that the selection process which ended in the proclamation of the first respondent as the Obong of Calabar did not breach the essential requirements of natural justice? The answer is that they cannot. It is for this reason that I wholeheartedly agree with the court of appeal”.
But it is my view that justice in this case demands western Calabar traditional council which was mandated to select an Etubom from amongst themselves who shall be the Obong of Calabar should go back to the drawing board and start the process on a clean slate, he said.