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Obong of Calabar re-elected days after sacking by Supreme Court

By Anietie Akpan and Tina Agosi Todo, Calabar
19 January 2023   |   3:21 am
Days after Supreme Court confirmed his sacking, the Obong of Calabar has been re-elected.

Days after Supreme Court confirmed his sacking, the Obong of Calabar has been re-elected.

The Obong, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, was re-elected and proclaimed the Obong of Calabar, late yesterday, by the Etubom Conclaves.

This was contained in a statement signed by 13 members of the Etubom Conclaves and read to newsmen by the Chairman, His Royal Majesty, Etubom Ntiero Efiwwat, at the palace of the Obong.

Supreme Court of Nigeria had released its 42-page judgment of January 13, confirming that the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, remained sacked as the Obong.

The judgment, which was signed by Justice Amina Adamu Augie, and made available to newsmen in Calabar, yesterday, also confirmed that the appellant, Etubom Anthony Ani, stands a chance to contest in a fresh election but may be hindered by the fact that he was not duly capped and recognised by the Obong in Council.

She, however, confirmed that the deposed Obong, though ran foul of the selection process, could still contest in a fresh process in accordance with the law of the traditional institution of the palace.

Since the judgment, there have been claims in a section of the media (not The Guardian) that the Supreme Court reaffirmed Otu as Obong but to put the records straight, the Supreme Court, in its judgment, rejected such claims, saying the Obong remained removed.

The judgment reads: “The Court of Appeal may have found that first respondent (Abasi Otu) qualified to contest for the stool. It, however, held that from the only evidence available to the High Court, the only impression a reasonable man would have of the process is that appellants of the second set of appeal (Etubom Traditional Council) used their positions in Western Council unfairly to the disadvantage of first respondent (Ani) in breach of the pillar of natural justice that a person should not be a judge in his own cause.

“Since the evidence of the second appellant (Etubom Okon Asuquo of the Etubom Traditional council) was that the first screening of first respondent (Ani) was cancelled, and he was not notified of the cancellation and afforded the opportunity to be screened again when another screening exercise was conducted by second appellant on another date for other candidates, first respondent was undoubtedly denied the right to be heard in the selection process that led to proclamation of first appellant as the Obong.”

It ruled that the trial court and Court of Appeal were ad idem that the way and manner the first respondent (Abasi Otu) was selected and proclaimed the Obong of Calabar was not in accordance with the principles of natural justice.