Some members of the Etuboms Traditional Council (ETC) in the Palace of the Obong of Calabar have cautioned the Governor of Cross River State, Bassey Otu, and his administration against acting in opposition to the Supreme Court’s judgment in the selection of the traditional ruler.
Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok, the factional Chairman of ETC, conveyed this cautionary advice in a letter addressed to Governor Otu of Cross River, as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The letter, dated November 9, was prompted by a statement from the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the state government, Emmanuel Ogbeche, recognising Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V as the Obong of Calabar.
Ogbeche, in the official statement, said, “The governor, having undertaken a judicial review of the State High Court and Supreme Court rulings as well as the constitution of the Obong’s Palace and interlaced with royal fathers, resolves that the issue of waiver for qualification of a candidate to contest the Obong Stool is untenable.”
“He (Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi V) remains the validly selected and elected Obong of Calabar and the patriarch of the Efik Kingdom,” the statement concluded.
However, in the letter personally signed by the ETC Chairman, News About Nigeria gathered that concerns were expressed regarding the state government’s position on the traditional stool of the Obong of Calabar.
The letter contested the government’s ability to take such a stance in a matter that had been adjudicated and determined by the highest court in the land.
The ETC Chairman questioned the government’s intervention in a chieftaincy dispute that had already received a Supreme Court ruling, stating, “How else would a government, bent on protecting the Efik throne from ‘judicial, social, and political scorn’, as expressed in its release, inject itself into an affray by political fiat?”
The letter contended that, by its actions, the Cross River State Government implied it had statutory powers to conduct a judicial review of a competent court judgment and overrule the Supreme Court in settling the chieftaincy disputes of the Efiks of Cross River State.
Conclusively, the ETC emphasised their non-acceptance of the state government’s position as contained in the press release of November 7, 2023.
The letter concluded by expressing hope that the conveyed information would contribute to a more informed decision in the interest of equity, fairness, natural justice, and peace.