By Magnus Effiong, Calabar
The Etubom Traditional Council of the Efik kingdom, which is the authority saddled with the responsibility of selecting a candidate for the coveted stool of the Obong of Calabar has said it is not possible for the Obong to be sacked after ascension to the throne.
The Council said this shortly after the Supreme Court gave judgement on the 15 years legal battle between the current Obong of Calabar, His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V who has been on the throne since 2008, and his challenger, Etubom Anthony Ani, former Minister of Finance.
The Supreme Court judgment, written by Justice Amina Ahgid and read by Justice Akomoye Agim, upheld the judgment of the Appeal Court, Calabar which ordered a fresh selection exercise and which was reportedly carried out about ten years ago. In that exercise, the Obong had emerged victorious.
The Appeal Court Judgement, our reporter gathered, had disqualified Etubom Ani from taking part in the new selection exercise thereby paving the way for the current Obong of Calabar to re-emerge as the sole candidate for the selection and subsequently the throne.
Speaking on the judgement, in a chat with Journalists at the country home of the Monarch, Friday, the Chairman of Etubom Traditional Council, Etubom Bassey Okor Bassey Duke, “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 but from what we have heard so far, we have reasons to rejoice.”
On the an unconfirmed reselection order said to have been issued by the Apex Court, Etubom Duke said such issue was of no consequence, adding “In 2013, the Court ordered for another selection which we did but such issue does not in any way worry us if it comes up. It does not remove the 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 that the Obong remains and will continue to maintain his throne”.
Pillar Today reports that Etuboms and other leaders celebrated the judgement at Adiabo amidst intense meriment, singing solidarity songs in honour of the Monarch.
Recall that shortly after the coronation of Edidem Abasi-Otu V as the Obong, Etubom Ani had dragged the new Obong and others to the High Court of Cross River state, which in Suit No. HC/102/2008, filed by his lead counsel, Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, decided the matter in his favour.
The litigants contended that the respondents jettisoned the screening process of the Western Calabar under the then Chairman who is now the Obong of Calabar, which screened and selected Etubom Ani as candidate for the stool.
After four years of legal fireworks, the Presiding Judge, Justice Obojor A. Ogar of the High Court of Cross River state, found fault with the declaration of Edidem Abasi-Otu V as the Obong, it set aside the selection and ordered a fresh selection in which Etubom Ani should be included but restrained the current Obong from taking part in the selection process.
This did not go down well with the Etubom Traditional Council which also appealed the said judgement.
The Appeal Court upturned the judgement of the lower court and submitted that Etubom Ani “was not traditionally qualified and eligible to vote and be voted for as the Obong of Calabar under Exhibit 1/20.”
It ordered for a fresh selection in which Edidem Abasi-Otu should take part while excluding Etubom Ani. PillarToday learnt this was carried out accordingly with Edidem Abasi Otu re emerging as Obong.
And as expected, Etubom Ani and his legal team disagreed with the Appeal Court verdict and took the matter to the Supreme Court whose judgement is generating ripples across the land.