Obong-elect pledges support to Gov. Otu led administration

Former Finance Minister, Anthony Ani
Obong of Calabar-elect, Etubom Anthony Ani

By PATRICK ABANG, Calabar –

The Obong of Calabar-elect, Etubom (Dr) Anthony Ani, has pledged the total support of the Efik throne to Cross River State Governor, Bassey Otu led administration to enable it succeed.

Dr. Ani, who was elected recently following a Supreme Court judgement that deposed the former Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V, made the pledge when the Ikoneto royal house paid him homage at his residence in Calabar on Thursday.

Recall that the throne of the Obong of Calabar had been a subject of endless litigation until the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Friday 13 January, 2023, dethroned Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V and ordered a fresh election in which the deposed Obong was qualify to contest.

According to the apex court, the way and manner Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu was selected and proclaimed the Obong of Calabar was not in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and therefore a fresh election be held in tandem with the 2002 constitution of the Palace, in line with equity and natural justice.

Days after the Supreme Court judgement, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu was re-elected the Obong of Calabar by 13 members of the Etubom Conclaves.

However, the re-election was stiffly opposed because the Etuboms, who re-elected the Obong were said not to be part of the Etubom conclave recognized in the 2002 constitution which the Supreme Court referred.

In compliance with the order of the Supreme Court, surviving members of the Etubom Council established in the 2002 constitution carried out another selection and election that saw Etubom (Dr) Anthony Ani emerging the Obong of Calabar-elect.

Speaking while receiving the Ikoneto royal house, Etubom Ani, a former finance minister, assured the delegation of a rebirth of the cultural and traditional heritage of the Efik kingdom.

He said starting from this year, “we are going to build new palaces for all our deities in order to restore the traditional heritage and glory of the Efik kingdom.”

He added that the palace will work in partnership with the government to usher in an atmosphere where industries and job creation would thrive.

The monarch-elect, further, pledged to bring his wealth of experience in the public service to bear on his new role as traditional ruler to facilitate seamless economic growth and overall prosperity in the state as a whole.

He went down memory lane and recalled how his efforts helped to foster peace and stability in the Efik nation, regretting that in spite of the sacrifices, his Ikoneto lineage continued to suffer marginalization and opposition in ascending the Efik throne.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Etuboms Traditional Council in 2002, HRH Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok of the King Eyo Nsa royal house of Creek Town, in an interview with journalists shortly after the ceremony, said Western Calabar is made up of three principalities – Creek Town, Adiabo and Ikoneto.

“The position Anthony Ani is occupying now is that of Ikoneto. If he completes it the circle will start again from Creek Town. The judgement of the Supreme Court did not disqualify Anthony Ani. The Supreme Court allowed Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu to re-contest but he refused. A memo was sent to him,” he said.

On his part, Etubom (Amb.) Nya Asuquo, said the homage was part of processes for the installation of the new Obong.

According to him, “Different Efik houses will come to pay him homage, starting from Ikoneto that has done it today. The next house that will be here on Tuesday is Ikot Offiong. Everything being equal, the Obong-elect will be visiting the Etuboms traditional council and the traditional rulers council from Obudu to Bakassi.”

Throwing more light on the judgement that led to the emergence of the Obong-elect, Etubom Nya Asuquo said, “From my reading of the Supreme Court judgement, it said that the process should start again from 2002 and the Supreme Court also said that the people of Ikoneto should be given the opportunity because it’s their turn to choose an Obong.

“The Supreme Court also said that since Ekpo Okon has been declared not to be the Obong, and all what he did from that time till now has been nullified. People who were the Etuboms in the palace before 2008 that he was made the Obong are the ones qualified to choose the new Obong. The Chairman of the Etubom Council as at then, and the secretary sent out invitation that those who want to contest again should show interest, but the only person that showed interest was HRH Etubom Ani. So they went on and did the election. It was four against three. He has been elected. The processes now are build up to his coronation. Ekpo Okon is not in the picture at all. He has been dethroned by the Supreme Court.”

He concluded by saying that in the next two months the Obong-elect will be coronated.

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