After years of legal wrangling, the Supreme Court deposed the Obong of Calabar, Édidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V, on Friday.
The court confirmed the decision of the Appeal Court, Calabar, and ordered a new election in the ruling prepared by Justice Amina Augie and read by Justice Akomaye Agim.
The removed Obong, who will be stepping down for the fourth time for a selection process, is still eligible to run for office.
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That Etubom Anthony Ani and others sued Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu and others in their capacities as members of the Etuborns’ Traditional Council for abandoning the screening process of the Western Calabar under the then Chairman, Etubom Abasi-Otu, now the Obong of Calabar, that had screened and selected Etubom Ani as their single candidate. This lawsuit was filed by his lead counsel, Mr. Joe Ag
Etubom Abasi Otu was declared the Obong-elect by the Etuboms’ Conclave before Etubom Ani filed the lawsuit, not after he had been formally installed as the Obong of Calabar.
On January 30, 2012, Justice Obojor A. Ogar of the High Court of Cross River state dismissed Abasi Otu as the Obong of Calabar in favor of Etubom Anthony Ani and overturned the decision of the Appeal Court that had sided with the ousted Obong.
But when the Obong and others appealed the High Court ruling to the Appeal Court in Calabar, the court once more dismissed them and ordered a new election.
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On June 4, 2013, Justice Garba Lawal, the Lead Judge at the time and currently a Justice of the Supreme Court, issued the following ruling:
“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.”
The Etuboms’ Conclave of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar, which had the authority to do so under Article 5(a)(ii)(iv) of Exhibit 1/20, ordered Etubom Abasi Otu to be proclaimed as Obong on March 31. The Appeal Court, however, reversed these decisions.
In accordance with the terms of Exhibit 1/20 and strictly in accordance with the principles of natural justice, the court directed it to “carry another process of selecting a new Obong of Calabar.”
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According to the judgment’s summary, which was made accessible to news reporters in Calabar the moment it was given on January 13, 2023, new elections will be held in compliance with the Palace’s 2002 constitution, in accordance with equity and real justice.
Some of the Etuboms who had convened for an emergency meeting at the Obong’s private mansion in Adiabo sung a song proclaiming that “until tomorrow Edidem Ekpo Okon will still win them until tomorrow.”
The supreme court will dethrone an Obong for the first time in the throne’s history.
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