Again, Court throws out suit on removal of Obong of Calabar

The High Court of Cross River State, presided by Justice Elias Abua, has thrown out a suit which sought an order of interlocutory injunction to remove the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V.

Justice Abua said that giving such orders without any tangible reason would do “incalculable and avoidable damage” to such exalted office.

The suit is spearheaded by some Efik leaders, Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok, Etubom Okon Asuquo and Etubom Micah Archibong, who incidentally were members of the 15-man Etubom Conclave that selected and proclaimed Edidem Abasi-Otu V as Obong of Calabar, in 2008, 2012 and 2013.

The recent case, which had suit No: HC/278/2023, has Edidem Abasi-Otu V, Ntiero Edem Offiong Efiwat, Edem Ita Essien Ededem, Government of Cross River State and Attorney General of Cross River State as defendants.

Justice Abua, in his ruling, dated June 25, 2024, rejected the prayers of the claimants and noted “Application on Notice for an order of interlocutory injunction to restrain the 1st defendant (Edidem Abasi-Otu) from presenting himself for selection or parading himself as the Obong -elect or Obong of Calabar or performing any such functions of the office of the Obong of Calabar is not granted.

“The office of the Obong of Calabar is so highly revered throughout this State and beyond that for an order of injunction to be made restraining anyone from occupying it, the order must be manifestly shown to be deserved by cogent, positive and irrefutable evidence of witnesses that no one is left in doubt the firm ground upon which the decision is predicated.

“I believe that an incalculable and avoidable damage would be done to that office by this Court if it holds, at this stage, that either party is entitled to the reliefs and counter claims placed before this court when no evidence has been tendered by either side. The facts of this case lend themselves more to the position that the status quo be maintained.

“It is in the light of the above reasoning that I will refuse the invitation extended to me to make the orders prayed for here and hold that the status quo be maintained.”

The Court also rejected the claimants’ prayer to restrain the 4th defendant (Government of Cross River state) from “disrupting, hindering, questioning, harassing, intimidating the claimants/applicants and their associates, association and assembly.”

The suit is coming about one year after the Supreme Court gave judgment in favour of the Monarch in a suit instituted by a contender to the throne and former finance minister, Etubom Anthony Ani, who sought Edidem Abasi-Otu’s removal.

They are curiously believed to have defected to Etubom Ani’s camp, after having reaffirmed the election of Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V on three different occasions over the last 16 years.