The Supreme Court on Friday dethroned the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V.
The court ordered the kingmakers and Traditional Rulers’ Council to immediately begin a fresh selection process to produce another Obong, but the dethroned king is free to put himself forward for re-election.
The fresh selection, going by the landmark judgment, is to be held in accordance with the 2002 constitution of the Palace.
In a suit No. HC/102/2008 filed by their lead counsel, Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, former minister finance, Etubom Anthony Ani, and others had sued Otu and others in their capacities as members of the Etuboms’ Traditional Council for jettisoning the screening process of the Western Calabar.
The court ordered that “the 1st Respondent (Etubom Ani) who admittedly not being 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”.
The deposed Obong is however qualified to participate in the selection processes and may still be voted for.
The judgment makes it the fourth time the Obong, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, would step down for another selection exercise.