January 13, (THEWILL) – Nigeria’s apex court, Supreme Court, has dethroned the Obong of Calabar, Édidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V, after years of legal tussle.
The judgment followed a suit Numbered, HC/102/2008, filed by a former minister of finance under late Gen Sani Abacha regime, Etubom Anthony Ani, and others.
Filed on their behalf by his lead counsel, Joe Agi (SAN), the plaintiffs, had sued Otu and others in their capacities as members of the Etuboms’ Traditional Council for jettisoning the screening process of the Western Calabar.
A High Court of Cross River state, Judgement of Justice Obojor A. Ogar had sacked Abasi Otu as the Obong of Calabar on January 30, 2012 in favour of Etubom Anthony Ani and jettisoned the Appeal court judgement that was in favour of the deposed Obong.
However, the Obong and others challenged the High Court Judgement at the Appeal Court, Calabar and was again sacked by the court and a fresh election ordered.
But in a judgment written by Justice Amina Ahgid and read by Justice Akomaye Agim, the apex court on Friday, ordered the kingmakers and Traditional Rulers’ Council to immediately convoke a fresh selection process to produce another Obong of Calabar.
The court, held that the fresh selection should be held in accordance with the 2002 constitution of the Palace.
“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 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 (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”, hence the Appeal court set aside the selection process that produced Etubom Ani as candidate and also set aside the March 31 proclamation of Etubom Abasi Otu as Obong Ordered by the Etuboms’ Conclave of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar, whose mandate it is under Article 5(a) (ii) (iv) of Exhibit 1/20, to do so and it “to conduct another process of selecting a new Obong of Calabar, in accordance with the provisions of Exhibit 1/20 and in strict compliance with the rules of natural justice.”
Some of the kingmakers who were at the private residence of the Obong, near Tinapa Resort were heard saying “till tomorrow Edidem Ekpo Okon will still win the fresh selection processes, till tomorrow.” Etubom Ani had instituted the suit immediately after the Etuboms’ Conclave met and declared Etubom Abasi Otu as the Obong elect, not after he had been crowned the Obong of Calabar.