The Calabar High Court presided over by Justice Obojor Ogar, Monday, declared the stool of Obong of Calabar vacant and told the current occupant Edidem Ekpo Abasi Otu not to parade himself as the Obong of Calabar
A one time Minister of Finance during the late Gen. Sani Abacha military regime, Etubom Anthony Ani and four others had in April 2008 dragged Edidem Abasi Otu and eight others to court challenging the selection and proclamation of the dethroned Obong as the rightful occupant of the throne.
Etubom Ani had in his claim through his counsel Mr. Agi, SAN, sought a declaration that “the presentation and/selection of the 4th defendant (Edidem Otu) who was Chairman of the screening committee for the selection of the 4th Defendants as the Obong of Calabar elect is contrary to natural justice, equity and good conscience.
He also claimed “That the purported selection of the 4th Defendant as the the Obong of Calabar-elect, who is from Adiabo is contrary to the decision of the Western Calabar Traditional Rulers Council that Ikoneto has the exclusive right to produce the next Obong of Calabar and the 4th Defendant is not qualified to be selected and/ or appointed the Obong of Calabar.”
Ani sought a declaration that the Etubom Traditional Rulers Council of the Obong’s Palace refusal to entertain the complaint of the Plaintiff violated their right to fair hearing and an injunction restraining the government from according recognition and/ or giving staff of office to the 4th defendant.
Delivering judgment that lasted for about two hours, Justice Obojor Ogar restrained the Obong from parading himself as the Obong of Calabar until proper election has been done and also restrained the Etubom Traditional Council, from excluding Etubom Anthony Ani and Mbiabo Ikoneto from any election or selection of an Obong.
Reacting to the ruling, counsel to the Etubom Traditional Council Mr. Paul Eba said they were still studying the judgment, though, he noted that the judgment did not make any order for the withdrawal of the certificate of recognition from the state government that had earlier given recognition to him, meaning that the “Obong is still on the throne.”
Mr. Eba said the Obong still occupies his throne and that they will study the judgment to go for appeal and described the judgment as “a declaration judgment that Ikoneto has right to contest. Definitely we are going on appeal to determine some issues raised by the Judge”.