The Supreme Court of Nigeria has on Friday, January 13, sacked the Obong of Calabar, His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V, on a suit that has lingered for 15 years, and ordered for the selection of a new King.
The case was 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.
In a Supreme Court judgment written by Justice Amina Ahgid and read by Justice Akomoye Agim, the Court upheld the judgment of the Appeal Court, Calabar and ordered a fresh selection exercise which the current Obong is still qualified to contest.
The judgement, Tribune Online gathered, 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.
Hours after the Court Judgement, Tribune Observed there was a celebration at Adiabo, the country home of the Obong of Calabar, where sons and daughters of the Efik kingdom, including members of the Etubom Traditional Council, danced and sang solidarity songs amidst merriment.
When contacted for his reaction on the matter, the Chairman of Etubom Traditional Council, Etubom Bassey Okor Bassey Duke, said the palace was yet to get the full brief of the Apex Court verdict.
He said: “So far so good and we are confident that 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.”
Recall that shortly after the coronation of Edidem Abasi-Otu V as the Obong, Etubom Ani, his opponent, had dragged the new King and others to the High Court of Cross River State, in Suit No. HC/102/2008, filed by his lead counsel, Mr Joe Agi, SAN, decided the matter in his favour.
The lower court had set aside the selection of Edidem Abasi-Otu V as the Obong 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 of the Efik kingdom which also appeal to the said judgment.
However, 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.”
Consequently, Etubom Ani and his legal team disagreed with the Appeal Court verdict and took the matter to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the Etuboms did not say when the fresh selection process would be conducted, Nigerian Tribune reports.