Supreme Court on Friday dethroned the Obong of Calabar, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V, ending 15 years of a legal battle.
The deposed monarch had been at loggerheads with some members of the traditional council over his installation processes.
In the judgment written by Justice Amina Augie and read by Justice Akomaye Agim, the court upheld the judgment of the Appeal Court, Calabar, and ordered that a fresh election be conducted in accordance with the constitution of the Palace.
In Suit No. HC/102/2008 filed by his lead counsel, Mr. Joe Agi, SAN, former minister of finance under Late Gen. Sani Abacha, 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 High Court of Cross River state judgement of Justice Obojor A. Ogar removed Abasi Otu as the Obong of Calabar on January 30, 2012.
This was in favour of Etubom Anthony Ani; jettisoning the Appeal Court’s 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.
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Ruling on June 4, 2013, the lead judge then, Justice Garba Lawal, now a Justice of the Supreme Court, ordered that: “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”.
According to the judgment, the deposed King is still qualified to contest.
This is the fourth time the Obong, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, would step down for another selection exercise.