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Bassey Ekpo Bassey

Bassey Ekpo Bassey is a progressive Nigerian journalist and publisher with an interest in his fellow Abaku of Cuba. He was crowned Obong of Calabar in the Cross River Delta, Nigeria, on April 6, 2008.

“. . . the majority of the Etuboms of Houses . . . has teamed up to select and to crown Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey today the 6th of April, 2008, as Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, the Obong of Calabar and Grand Patriarch of the Efik people . . .”  -- from a Press statement on the selection and traditional crowning of a New Obong of Calabar given by Chief (Dr.) Ambrose Akpanika (Mkpisong Ukara Ekondo Efik), on Sunday 6th April, 2008.

Etubom Bassey was crowned at the Efe Asabo, the kingmaking shrine of the Efik people, around 11am on Sunday, April 6, 2008. By 3pm, Edidem Bassey and several Etuboms (heads of Houses) held a press conference.

AfroCubaWeb sends the very popular new Obong our congratulations for his selection and our best wishes for his success. We salute his statement of a problem and his approach to solving it:

"So when you see the Cubans, who over 200 years have clung onto this Ekpe cultural form, and practiced it and deepened it, their hearts will bleed, if they come back here and see that Christianity has wiped it out from the base, that it doesn't exist here anymore." -- Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey, Iyamba of Ekoretonko, on Ekpe and Cuban Culture

We also support the Obong in his struggle with corrupt elements whose use of the Cross River State police, described in the News section below, reminds us of the activities of the ibero spanish dominating elite and their use of the Havana police at the height of the persecution of the Abaku, a repression the Abaku proved fully capable of dealing with. These corrupt elements have too long embezzled Nigerian government funds and have been in league with missionaries seeking to destroy Efik traditions. The crooks and embezzlers now have the support of the Cross River State Government, whose main party, the PDP, is the successor to British colonialism and the party of choice for these 419 perpetrators. 

Obong Bassey Ekpo Bassey has the support of the overwhelming majority of his people, as demonstrated in their rejection of the second Obong imposed by the Cross River State security forces. As they are saying in Calabar: "The palace faction is consciously bending the institution of Obong towards bornagainism and government sycophancy."

The Obong receives support from Cuban Abaku, 4/28/08

Querido Y Respetado Bassey Ekpo Bassey

Como orgulloso mienbro de la Sociedad Ecoria Enllene Abacua quiero brindarles a usted Bassey Ekpo Bassey Illamba de la logia Ecueritongo y Nuevo Rey de la sociedad Efik en el Calabar y a todo su digno pueblo los mas calurosos y sinceros saludos con motivo de su coronacion.  

Es un honor que la sociedad Ekpe halla depositado en sus manos el futuro de su pueblo. Desde el primer encuentro entre cubanos y nigerianos en el 2001, hemos tenido el privilegio de conocer y ser testigos de su entrega desinteresada en favor del bienestar de su pueblo y sobre todo en la exacta conviccion de que el culto a Ekpe debe ser la mas sagrada e importante mision a cumplir.  

Nadie mejor que usted para guiar los destinos de una nacion tan rica en historia y sufrimientos.

Del Calabar llegaron a Cuba como esclavos aquellos ancestros que nos legaron nuestra querida Sociedad Abacua y de la cual somos dignos soldados que sabremos defender nuestra entidad y principios en cualquier parte del mundo.  Queremos a traves de estas lineas expresarle a usted nuestro mas incondicional apoyo y que sepan que tendran en nosotros sus mas fieles servidores.  Cuando la injusticia y malicia traten de entorpecer nuestros nobles propositos, siempre chocaran contra la nobleza y valor de nuestros corazones.

ERENDIO ABASI BOME 
ERENDIO ECOBIO ENYENISON 
ERENDIO BASEEY EKPO BASSEY KING OF EKPE EFIK 
ERENDIO ECORIA ENLLENE ABACUA

Angel Guerrero 
Aberinan Itia Mucanda Efo 

Beloved and Respected Majesty Bassey Ekpo Bassey 

As a proud member of the Ecoria Enllene Abacua society, I want to extend to you Bassey Ekpo Bassey, Illamba of the Ecueritongo lodge and new king of the Efik society in the Calabar region, and to all your dignified people, our warmest and sincerest congratulations on the occasion of your coronation.

It is a honor for us all that the Ekpe society of Calabar has entrusted to you the future of your people. Since the first encounter between Cubans and Nigerians in 2001, we have had the privilege to know and witness your selfless generosity for the well-being of your people and above all, the precise conviction that the Ekpe tradition should be our most sacred and important mission.

There is no one better than you to guide the destinies of a nation as rich in history and suffering as Calabar .

Our ancestors arrived in Cuba as slaves from Calabar, their legacy was our dear Abacua Society, of which we are proud soldiers who know how to defend our entity and principles in all parts of the world. We want, through these lines, to express to you and your people our most unconditional support and you should know that you will have in us your most loyal servants. When injustice and maliciousness try to stop our noble purposes, they will always crash against the nobility and valor of our hearts.

ERENDIO ABASI BOME 
ERENDIO ECOBIO ENYENISON 
ERENDIO BASSEY EKPO BASSEY KING OF CALABAR 
ERENDIO ECORIA ENLLENE ABACUA 

Angel Guerrero 
Aberinan Itia Mucanda efo 

The Obong in the News

Gunmen invade home of contestant to Calabar throne, Bassey, 8/26/08, Guardian

Obongship: Gunmen Invade Ekpo-Bassey’s Residence, 8/26/08, This Day

Before Calabar Burns, 8/8/2008 Press Release from the Etubom Traditional Council of the Efik Nation on the murder and mayhem committed by Cross River State government backed militias, with photos of some victims attached.  The Cuban Abaku are Efik in origin.

Ekpo Ekeng, Youth leader of Cobham Town and member of Calabar Mgbe, is interviewed on the recent events in Calabar, 8/08, AfroCubaWeb

Liyel Imoke sacked, 7/15/08, Vanguard: "Mr. Liyel Imoke’s tenure as Cross River State governor was terminated yesterday by the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar which annulled his April 2007 election. Reason: non compliance of the election with the 2006 Electoral Act and gross irregularities during the polls." [Imoke had backed the illegitimate second Obong against Bassey Ekpo Bassey and had supported the 6 assaults on the coronation shrine, resulting in 20 wounded and 1 death. The second Obong was crowned on the 6th assault, which featured a heavy Cross River State police presence.]

C'River Gives Staff To Okon Abasi As New Obong, 7/12/08, Guardian: [The corrupt] "CROSS River State Government yesterday formally recognised Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, one of the three contenders to the contentious throne of the Obong of Calabar."

Faction asks Gov Imoke to hands off Obong of Calabar crisis, 6/2/08, Vanguard: "The Etubom Traditional Council in the Palace of the factional Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, has asked the Cross River State Governor, Mr. Liyel Imoke, not to interfere with the judicial process regarding the tussle over who gets the government staff of office as Obong of Calabar among the contestants. They also accused some persons in the Cross River State Ministry of Justice and the Nigeria Police of planning to hang trumped-up murder charges on the factional Obong."

The Obong of Calabar tussle, 6/2/08, Nigerian Tribune

Obasanjo Sold Nigeria To Economic Terrorists –– Obong of Calabar, 5/24/08, Leadership: "The Obong of Calabar, His Majesty Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, has narrated how former President Olusegun Obasanjo deliberately sold virtually everything that belongs to the Nigerian people to a few individuals, under the guise of privatisation."

CRSG debunks interference in Obongship tussle, 5/24/08, Tide: "Reacting to the two scenarios however, a human rights activist and legal practitioner in Calabar, Barrrister Okoi Obono-Obla, in his capacity as the secretary-general of the Cross River Movement For Justice (CRMFJ) said, “the government of Cross River State has developed cold feet and goose pimple on the ascension of the revered throne of the Efik kingdom by Bassey Ekpo Bassey. The government is apprehensive that the ascension of the throne by a distinguished personage such as Etubom Bassey Ekpo, an intellectual with revolutionary instincts would be a vista for the opening of the political space and the possibility of the emergence of an alternative political and power block / base particularly in the Southern part of Cross River State.”

Obong of Calabar Accuses Imoke, Ita-Giwa, Others Of N1 Billion Messy Deal, 5/23/08, Leadership (Abuja)

Efik Kingmakers Unhappy Over Imoke's Comments, 5/22/08, Leadership (Abuja): "The kingmakers, who reacted under the umbrella of Etubom Traditional Council, said as far as the tradition of the Efik people was concerned, there was no place for second capping. A statement issued by the kingmakers in Calabar tagged "Governor Got It Wrong", signed by HRH Etubom, Nya Eyoma Asuquo, Traditional Prime Minister, and HRH Etubom Ayi E. Edem, chairman, Etubom Tradition Council, regretted the governor's position "The governor is reported as saying his government shall give recognition to the Obong of Calabar purportedly selected through due process. Given the role of his deputy, Mr. Efiok Cobham, in propping up the minority group of Etuboms to commit their serial act of illegality, with state facilities and resources, it is rather clear that His Excellency was referring to their Obong."

One throne, 2 kings, 5/19/08, Daily Sun, Nigeria: a not very specific weave of lies, unworthy of a response. The article says this of the fraudulent second Obong: "The 59-year-old Electronics engineer denied being sponsored by government as he has spent almost his entire life in the federal civil service and lived in Lagos and Warri." [Like much of the article, not very logical.]

Obong of Calabar disputed crown: My story, by Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi, 5/17/08, Vanguard: Andy Petit exposes the tissue of lies put forth by the illegitimate 2nd Obong.

Nigeria: Festering Sores, 5/14/08, Vanguard: "The current tussle is a tragedy; if thuggery is the basis of crowning an Obong, what moral authority will he have over his people? What respect will an Obong crowned under the current circumstances command? More fundamental is the violence and death that have been visited on the Efiks in the name of succession. How can we have so much violence and anarchy and government still claims affinity to "due process" and "the rule of law"? How can we allow the rule of might?"

Obong of Calabar calls for unity, peace, 5/13/08, Vanguard: the author, George Onah, has close family ties to the Cross River State Government, which supported the second Obong capping with military force.

Nigeria: Obong of Calabar Says Imoke Sponsors Militants, 5/12/08, Leadership: "The Obong of Calabar, Obong Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, has accused Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State of sponsoring militants as the state has now become a safe haven for armed thugs. He also blamed the increasing cases of corruption in Nigeria on the irresponsibility of the government. Obong, disclosed this at the weekend during a courtesy call to the Nigeria Labour Congress president, Comrade Abdulwaheed Ibrahim Omar."

Bassey Ekpo Bassey as Obong of Calabar, 5/11/08, Vanguard: "Indeed, Bassey Ekpo Bassey is very popular with the Efik people. He is no less popular with non-Efik resident in Calabar, a group to which I belonged (for 15 years) until barely two years ago. However, he can be charismatic, cerebral, courageous and forthright in ways that can make the powers that be uncomfortable, especially when (as is often the case in our country) such powers would rather cultivate mediocre yes-men as allies and cronies to advance their selfish interests."

Bassey's faction rejects second crowning of new Obong, 5/5/05, Guardian, Nigeria: "The faction maintained that the action on May 2, "reveals an uncanny partnership in Cross River State between private militias and the police because those militias are developed and nurtured with public funds and by the people in government. Countless complaints to the Nigerian state, regarding this matter, have been treated with contempt. Remember that the militants you are fighting today in the Niger Delta, were largely built the same way this is going," it stated."

New Obong of Calabar crowned amidst funfare
, 5/5/08, The Tide: [Foolish account of second caping, which goes against tradition and only benefits those who have been embezzling the people's money and are on the side of the missionaries' war against Efik culture.]

Calabar Gets Second Obong In Two Months, 5/4/08, Guardian, Nigeria: "On April 6, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey was capped by a section of the Etuboms (kingmakers). But the state government declined to recognise him, saying his selection did not follow due process. The capping of Edidem Otu has, however, received government blessing, as massive police presence provided security at the shrine, palace and the streets of Calabar where processions were held."

Another Obong capped,  5/4/08, Vanguard: "When contacted, Bassey, who was earlier capped Obong by some chiefs in Calabar, said that “second capping is of no effect.” Except for the clash that occurred between supporters of the two factions on Friday, Calabar has remained calm after the second capping.

Obong tears Calabar apart, 5/3/08, Vanguard: the author, George Onah, has close family ties to the Cross River State Government, which supported the second Obong capping with military force.

Tussle over Obong of Calabar claims lives, 5/3/08, Vanguard: "According to Saturday Vanguard sources, the armed thugs invaded the community at about 4.00 am and at the time they left the area one person lay dead, several injured and nine persons missing. There are fears that those missing may have been kidnapped by the thugs who were also said to have carried away the corpse of the deceased whose identity could not be immediately ascertained... Yesterday’s attack on  the community was the fifth  attempt to forcefully cap Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu at the Efik shrine."

Obong Crisis: One Killed, Nine Missing in Bloody Clash, 5/3/08, This Day: "Acting chairman of the Cobham Town Combined Council, Etubom Ekpo Eyo said one male member of the community was killed by the assailants while nine others were missing and several others injured in the Friday attack. He said the assailants also carried away the body of the dead man in a pick-up van to conceal evidence of what they had done. Eyo said that despite the attack, the invaders could not gain access to the shrine. When THISDAY visited the community, blood stains were seen all over the place, while members of the community were in groups discussing the incident in low tones. Most of the people were also apprehensive of talking to unknown persons for fear of giving out information to security agencies, who they allege, are giving cover to the assailants."

Youths repel attempt to instal another Obong, 5/2/08, Vanguard, Nigeria: "Yesterday’s attempt was the 4th by this factional Etubom Council to instal Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu and the move was resisted by the youths at about 9.45am at Ikorentonko (Cobham Town) in Old Calabar."

Editorial: The Obong of Calabar controversy, 5/2/08, Nigerian Tribune: "Failure to resolve this stalemate in time and to the satisfaction of the Efik people, it was said, motivated a section of the excluded group to sponsor Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey as a consensus candidate that could help bring peace to the troubled stool. There are strong indications that the majority of the Efik people are satisfied with the emergence of the current Obong, Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, who was traditionally crowned in the Efe Asabo on the 6th of April. One of the strongest factors that had apparently worked in favour of Etubom Bassey is the traditional norm that says that once an Obong has been crowned no other person can undergo the same process while the crowned Obong is still alive and well."

Obongship tussle: CRSG reads riot act to contenders, 4/30/08, The Tide, Nigeria: Stunned by attempts by some Kingmakers in the Efik Kingdom to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens in Cross River State, the government has warned that it would not hesitate to deal with such persons. Besides, even some Efik persons are now accusing the state government of dabbling into an area specifically meant for the traditional institution. A statement signed by the Cross River State Governor [CRSG], Liyel Imoke said the confusion arising from the Obongship tussle, was now threatening to dislocate the peace and harmony that the state and Calabar in particular had been known for years.

‘Tradition, not government determines Obong’s ascension’ 4/28/08, Nigerian Tribune: extended interview with the new Obong.

Ekpo is not Obong of Calabar - Efik youths, 4/27/08, Sunday Tribune: "In an chat with Sunday Tribune after a press conference, the President of the group, Mr. Peter Duke, claimed he had facts and details to prove that what Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey did on that Sunday was ”laughable, wrong and can not stand”.

And A Comrade Takes The Throne, 4/25/08, Leadership Nigeria: "As our comrade sits on the Obongship stool, I'm ecstatic. Groups and different communities in Calabar have continued to throng his palace, while solidarity and goodwill messages pour in, with some bearing great insight into the ascension of Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II. One of such has been that of Abubakar Rimi. According to the former Kano State governor, "…time has come when traditional institution which consumes so much of the national income, must play a part in the emancipation of the poor in the country." This could, perhaps, be a useful and fitting dialectics in the understanding of how and why a social activist found his way onto a traditional stool."

Obong tussle: Miscreants unleash mayhem in Calabar, 4/24/08, The Tide, Nigeria: "...no fewer than 20 persons are said to be lying critically ill in various clinics in Calabar metropolis, as miscreants on Monday night unleashed mayhem.. Reacting to the incident, the already capped Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, said, “I have been informed that under the protection of the Police and the Military, some thugs who were also obviously under official Government protection went into Cobham Town and brutalized the people, broke down doors, machete several members of the community and generally traumatized them. We are going to ask for investigation and insist that all the persons involved, in the mayhem be brought to book. It is certainly an act of sacrilege on the shrine. I am informed that the juju pot they brought to the place fell and broke into pieces, spilling the content. That in itself is quite significant. We are going to ask the Federal Government to assure us as a community that we are entitled to protection under the Nigerian law”.

Rimi, Azikiwe, Others Congratulate Obong
, 4/23/08, Leadership Nigeria: Governors of Nigerian States congratulate the new Obong, Bassey Ekpo Bassey - "Second Republic governor of Kano State, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi, has described Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, Obong of Calabar, as the beacon of hope for the hopelessly marginalised masses of our people, stressing that, "With this development in Calabar, it is clear to me, as well as all leaders of progressive Nigeria, that the time has come when the traditional institution, which consumes so much of our national income, must play a part in the emancipation of the poor in our country".

Choice Of Monarch Splits Efik Kingdom, 4/19/08, Guardian, Nigeria. "Meanwhile, the new Obong of Calabar, Edidem, Bassey Ekpo Bassey II has continued to receive congratulatory messages from more Nigerians... The Owelle of Onitsha, Chief Chukwuemeka Bamidele Azikiwe quoted Plato in his salutation of Bassey II, saying, "It is Plato who said that society will not know peace or progress until either philosophers become kings or kings become philosophers. I greet you, philosopher and king!".
Former Governor of Edo State , Chief John Oyegun and former member of the National Assembly, Senator, Paul Ukpo, also sent congratulatory messages wishing Bassey well."

Efik elders reject Abasi Otu as Obong-elect, 4/16/08, Vanguard, Nigeria: "A section of Efik elders, youths and market women have kicked against the choice of Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the Obong-elect of Calabar by a faction of the Calabar Etubom." 

Efik kingship and race for ascendancy,  4/16/08 The Tide, Nigeria: "Dressed in traditional kinship regalia, the new Obong emerged from Efe Asabo to a spontaneous embrace of and unprecedented jubilation by the residents of Cobham Town. Etubom, Ekpo Eyo who crowned the new Obong told journalists shortly after the ceremony that the crowning of Bassey as king of the Efiks is justified by tradition of the Efik people, stressing that Ekpo Bassey was ordained to be king. Eyo said Bassey capped the late Obong, while his father, Etubom Bassey’s father crowned the late Edidem Ene Mkpang Cobham and his grand father crowned the late Edidem Otu Effa... To this end, Eyo said, Bassey is a very prominent and likeable character. From all spectrum of the Efik Kingdom to the commonest man in the streets; to the highest in the kingdom, he is the most popular. His popularity is not only felt in Efik Kingdom. He is so popular among other ethnic groups up to Akwa Ibom State and beyond, Eyo said of the new Monarch."

New Obong of Calabar, deputy governor differ on death plot, 4/15/08 Guardian, Nigeria: "This morning, an unidentified police officer informed me that you were not just interested in arresting me to generate news, but that I would definitely be killed to pave the way for a second crowning at the shrine and that you are going to provide cover for the minority faction to break into the shrine."

Obong of Calabar backs anti-graft war, 4/11/08 The Guardian, Nigeria: "The new Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey, has joined the fight against corruption, saying it is the only way Nigeria could become a developed nation."

Nigeria: Parallel Obong of Calabar Emerges, 4/10/08, Leadership

Confusion in Calabar, as another Obong is proclaimed, 4/10/08 The Tide, Nigeria

Calabar monarch tussle takes new turn,  4/8/2008 Vanguard, Nigeria: "The lingering kingship tussle in Calabar that culminated in the crowning of Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II as Obong of Calabar, Sunday has taken a fresh turn as another faction which describes itself as “The Etubom’s Conclave of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar” has declared another man as the Obong of Calabar. A release issued by the Conclave and jointly signed by the Chairman of the Etubom’s conclave, Etubom Okon Etim Asuquo III and Secretary, Etubom Micah Archibong VI in Calabar noted the proclaimation of “the Head of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu House, Western Calabar, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi-Out as Obong of Calabar.”

Bassey Ekpo Bassey emerges new Obong of Calabar,  4/7/2008 Vanguard, Nigeria: "Prominent publisher and politician, Bassey Ekpo Bassey, has emerged the new Obong of Calabar with the title Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II. He emerged the Obong yesterday morning at about 11.00am after he was crowned at the Efiks' Efe Asabo as the Grand Patriarch of the Efik and the new Obong of Calabar. He succeeds the late Obong, Professor Nta Elija Henshaw VI who passed on early this year. Soon after the ceremony, the new Obong Edidem Bassey who was dressed in traditional royal regalia emerged from the Efe Asabo to a roaring applause and jubilation by the residents of Cobham Town, the seat of the Efe Asabo."

Ekpo Bassey becomes Obong of Calabar
4/7/08 The Guardian: from Anietie Akpan, Calabar

Liyel Imoke sacked, 7/15/08, Vanguard


Written by John Ighodaro, George Olanrinoye & Emmanuel Aziken 
Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Mr. Liyel Imoke’s tenure as Cross River State governor was terminated yesterday by the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar which annulled his April 2007 election. Reason: non compliance of the election with the 2006 Electoral Act and gross irregularities during the polls.

Mr. Imoke responded swiftly to the verdict, saying: “As a law-abiding citizen, I will respect the rule of law and the constitution I swore to uphold.”

His party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), called the judgment a setback for the people. Already, tension has gripped residents of Osogbo, Osun State where the state election tribunal will, today, deliver judgment in the petition filed by Mr. Rauf Aregbesola of Action Congress (AC) against the election of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

The situation is not different in Benue State where the people are awaiting the verdict of the Court of Appeal, Jos in the appeal filed by Senate President, Chief David Mark, over the invalidation of his election.

The All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) governorship candidate in Cross River State, Mr. Paul Ukpo; Progressive People’s Alliance’s Iheke Awah; African Renaissance Party; Mr. James Ebri; and the Action Congress (AC) had taken Mr. Imoke to the Election Petition Tribunal which upheld his victory. That was on January 23, 2008.

Dissatisfied with the verdict of the lower court, Mr. Ukpo proceeded to the Appeal Court arguing there was no election in the state and that there was non-compliance with the 2006 Electoral Act.

Justice Suleiman Galadima, in his three-hour judgment cited anomalies such as allocation of scores and non-presentation of result sheets at the polling booths. He also said the petitioners were not given a fair hearing by the lower court.

The Appeal Court asked Mr. Imoke to vacate office immediately and Speaker of the House of Assembly be sworn in with immediate effect as acting Governor. A fresh election is to be held within 90 days.

We're vindicated, Ukpo's counsel

Speaking, counsel to Mr Paul Ukpo, Mr. Felix Offia, said the judgment had vindicated his firm belief in the Nigerian judiciary. He said the judiciary had proved a point again, arguing that the fact that a fresh election had been called was a welcome development. He said it was appropriate for the two parties to go for a fresh election.

In his reaction, lead Counsel to Mr. Imoke, Mr. Joe Agi, said they were bound by the judgment of the Appeal Court and would prepare for a fresh election.

Before handing over, Governor Liyel Imoke issued a statement in which he expressed his willingness to abide by the decision of the Appeal Court.

I’ll respect rule of law —Imoke

He said: “I Senator Liyel Imoke, Governor of Cross River State hereby acknowledge the verdict of the Electoral Appeal Tribunal delivered in Calabar today (yesterday), Monday, 14th July, 2008, nullifying my election of 14th April, 2007 as Governor of Cross River State.

“I wish to state categorically that as a law-abiding citizen, I will respect the rule of law and the constitution I swore to uphold.

“In the light of the judgment, I am handing over to the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly until a fresh election is held and an elected Governor subsequently sworn in.

“I appeal to all Cross Riverians to remain calm and go about their normal duties.

“Let me use this opportunity to thank all Cross Riverians for the immense support given to my administration within the past year and pray you extend the same to His Excellency, the acting Governor, the Rt. Hon. Francis Adah. Long Live Cross River State! Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!

Great setback — PDP

His party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), described the annulment of his election as a great setback for the people of the state.

The party also vowed to support its Governors and all elected officers on its platform across the country geared towards achieving their desires. The party in a statement signed in Abuja by the National Publicity Secretary, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, said “the PDP expressed its shock and dismay over the annulment of the Cross River State Governorship election by the Court of Appeal.

This is a great setback for the people of Cross River State who have been yearning for development.
“The party will at both state and national levels swing into action by mobilising its supporters in the state in preparation for the re-run election, so that the PDP will recapture the state in order not to allow the ongoing projects to be stalled or stunted,” he said.

The PDP, however, urged the people of the state to rally round Senator Liyel Imoke in the forthcoming re-run election to reclaim what it described as his mandate, adding: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should put in place all necessary modalities as an unbiased umpire for the re-run as it did in all previous bye-elections which earned her international commendations.”

According to the party’s spokesperson, the party viewed with satisfaction the two judgments delivered over the weekend by the Court of Appeal in Enugu that reaffirmed the victories of its Governorship and Senatorial candidates, Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, Martins Elechi of Ebonyi and Senator Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu East Senatorial Zone in the April 2007 elections.

Court decides Oyinlola's fate today

Tension has gripped residents of Osogbo, as the state election petition tribunal is set to give judgment in the petition filed by the Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate in the 2007 general election, Engr. Rauf Aregbesola, against the declaration of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the election.

The Police and other security agencies in the state have beefed up security in and outside the state capital with a view to thwarting any attempt by any group of people or individuals to unleash terror on innocent citizens of the state.

Checkpoints and public buildings are now being manned by stern-looking policemen to protect them from being torched or vandalised by hoodlums.

Briefing newsmen in Osogbo yesterday ahead of today’s judgment, the PDP leaders warned that its members were prepared to lay down their lives should there be any attempt by the AC to import mercenaries into the state to cause trouble.

The PDP leaders who spoke through Chief Yinka Adeojo, the state Secretary of the party, threatened that “this is going to be the final battle in the Osun State politics should there be any attempt by the AC to repeat what they did after last year election.

“If anybody comes from Lagos to disturb the peace of this state, I can assure you that he will not go back alive. What they did in the state last time and got away with it will not be allowed to repeat itself.
“We are going to bounce back on the indigenous AC when the importees must have left if they foment trouble.

We want to liberate our people this time around from Lagos incursion. If they want to invade Osogbo, let Tinubu and Aregbesola take the lead,” he added.

Meanwhile, the state AC had directed all its members and supporters to stay away from the venue of the tribunal when the judgment was being read.

In a letter to the state Commissioner of Police signed by the Secretary of the party, Mr. Adegboyega Famoodun, the party said the directives became imperative in other to save its members and associates in other political parties from being held for what they did not know anything about.

“Besides, the AC in our usual character is turning to God whom we have firm believe in will right all wrongs being perpetrated at the fullness of His own time,” the statement added.

Senators suspend travel plans as court decides Mark’s fate today

Suspense arising from today’s Appeal Court judgment on the election of Chief David Mark as a Senator has forced Senators to suspend plans for holiday as intrigues shadow plotting by potential rivals for the office of Senate President.

Some few schemers hoping to also unseat the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and other principal officers of the Senate in the event of an unfavourable judgment for the Senate President were also making their moves. But their efforts were yet to make a breakthrough.

The Senate proceeded on its yearly recess on July 10 having brought the scheduled recess from July 25 by two weeks. The decision was largely interpreted as a move by supporters of Senator Mark to forestall any attempt at getting another choice as Senate President in the event today’s decision is against Mark.

Contrary to the longstanding tradition, Senators who went on recess last Thursday have suspended their plans for travels out of the country on holiday. Indeed by yesterday those who travelled out of Abuja were congregating in Abuja for possible political manouevre that may flow from the judgment.

A number of the Senators who were spoken to yesterday cited outstanding Senate commitments for their presence in Abuja, though a couple disclosed plans to go to Jos in solidarity with Senator Mark for the judgment.

As many as six Senators from the North-Central are believed to be eyeing the job of the Senate President in the event of an unfavourable judgment, despite the hopeful enthusiasm of supporters of the Senate President that the Court of Appeal would upturn the judgment of the lower tribunal whose ruling invalidated the election of Senator Mark as Senator representing the Benue South senatorial district.

-- www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12356&Itemid=41

C'River Gives Staff To Okon Abasi As New Obong, 7/12/08, Guardian

CROSS River State Government yesterday formally recognised Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, one of the three contenders to the contentious throne of the Obong of Calabar.

The government, in an elaborate ceremony at the State Cultural Centre Complex, carried out the presentation of certificate and staff of office to the new Obong as the substantive and government-recognized Obong of Calabar and grand patriarch of the Efik Nation.

By the action, the state government has also countered itself as it had earlier in the state's Executive Council meeting suspended the issuance of staff of office or recognition of anyone as the Obong of Calabar.

-- http://www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article13//indexn3_html?pdate=120708&ptitle=C'River%20
Gives%20Staff%20To%20Okon%20Abasi%20As%20New%20Obong&cpdate=120708

Faction asks Gov Imoke to hands off Obong of Calabar crisis, 6/2/08, Vanguard

Written by John Ighodaro 
Monday, 02 June 2008

The Etubom Traditional Council in the Palace of the factional Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, has asked the Cross River State Governor, Mr. Liyel Imoke, not to interfere with the judicial process regarding the tussle over who gets the government staff of office as Obong of Calabar among the contestants.

They also accused some persons in the Cross River State Ministry of Justice and the Nigeria Police of planning to hang trumped-up murder charges on the factional Obong.

Addressing newsmen in Calabar, they expressed the view that Governor Liyel Imoke might have been misled into believing that Bassey II was not selected and capped in line with due process.

According to the factional Traditional Prime Minister of the Efik Kingdom, HRH Etubom Nya Asuquo, who read the text, “the Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, gave an interview to the Daily Independent, as published in its Wednesday, 28th May 2008 issue, in which he cast aspersion on the capping of Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II as the Obong of Calabar. He said (in inuendo) that Bassey II claimed to have caped himself.

“The Etubom Traditional Council wishes to state clearly that we are not aware of any such claim by Bassey II. We, the majority group of Etuboms of the Efik Kingdom, selected him in due process, and capped him at the kingship shrine on Sunday, April 6, 2008. There is no place in our tradition for the capping of a second person.

“The Governor appears to have been misadvised to think that conducting the traditional obsequies of the late Obong before capping constitutes 'due process'; which is why the minority group of Etuboms was assisted to breach the instruction of a Calabar High Court and proceeded to carry out the obsequies for Henshaw VI.

“We request the Governor to look beyond his ill-informed advisers and read the Report of the Udoh Commission of Enquiry where that matter was settled. The conduct of traditional obsequies is not a prerequisite for the capping of a replacement Obong. Our history is replete with instances where a new Obong was capped, long before those obsequies were performed.

“In the particular instance of Henshaw VI, he had, in vivo renounced the tradition upon which the obsequies are based. There really is no need to draft the entire strengthen of the Cross River State (Police) Command to protect the people who pretended to be doing those obsequies!...

“The Etubom Traditional Council wishes to plead with the Governor, not to undermine the authority of the court in any way or interfere with the judicial process. If their case is just and is defensible, let him bring there facts to court, as indeed we are prepared to. Let the Governor be sincere to his statement in the interview that he is waiting on the Courts.”

Other Etuboms who signed the text are Chairman of Etubom Tradition Council, HRH Etubom Ayi E. Edem; and the Secretary of the Council, HRH Etubom Dr. Alex Ekeng.

-- http://www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9376&Itemid=43

The Obong of Calabar tussle, 6/2/08, Nigerian Tribune

The throne of Obong of Calabar in Cross River State has been enmeshed in crisis of succession since its last occupier was declared traditionally ‘sick,’ with two aspirants crowned as Obong within one month, Gill Nsa-Abasi writes.

Succession crisis is not strange to the revered and ancient throne of Obong of Calabar; the paramount ruler, treaty king and patriarch of the Efik in the Southern part of Cross River State. History recorded several times when the throne was smeared in crises for about 10 years until one of the claimants joined his ancestors before truce was reached. Previous crisis had led to the setting up of commissions of inquiry that begot several reports and government white papers.

There was crisis in 1999 when the need for succession arose. Edidem Ene Nkpang Boco had passed on and controversy ensued on the need to respect an earlier accord among the royal lineage of the Efik. The accord was the Creek Town Accord of 1970, which had spelt out how succession should alternate between royal families in Western and Central Calabar.

Some believed the accord, as at 1999, was almost 30 years old and overdue for review since the region that now constituted Western Calabar has only one local government area while Central Calabar has four. So, Western Calabar was expected to produce the successor to Late Boco who hailed from Central Calabar.

But the likes of Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey, who were in the forefront of the crisis then, just as now, moved quickly to perform the native capping rituals on Professor Nta Elijah Henshaw as the Obong of Calabar to the consternation of others. The crisis then led the Cross River State governor at the time, Mr. Donald Duke, to order the arrest and detention of Professor Henshaw, who later got confirmed as Efik king, as well as Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey, who championed his installation. That crisis stretched for about two years and Bassey had his way, succeeding to achieve the installation of Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw from Central Calabar and, thus, causing their Western Calabar brothers to lose their opportunity to produce an Obong that year.

In February this year, the need arose for another succession to the throne as Henshaw ended his reign in just seven years. After the death of Edidem Henshaw, Etubom Bassey became the subject matter again. Many watchers of the Obong’s palace felt that he might want to play another major role again in the selection and coronation of the next Obong. As confirmation of such expectations, Bassey is currently at the centre of a traditional whirlwind in the Obong’s palace that is threatening the revered stool.

When Edidem Henshaw passed on, the Nigerian Tribune gathered from reliable sources in the Obong’s palace that suspicion heightened on indications that Etubom Bassey might just be up again to stake his life for the installation of his preferred candidate on the throne. To forestall such moves, it was also learnt, the opposing group in the palace, made up of those who were with the late king before he passed on, moved in quickly to prevent Etubom Bassey from doing anything towards installing another Efik king, particularly in the Efe Asabo, the kingship shrine, where the native crowning ritual is usually performed.

They allegedly secured the understanding of the Cross River State government (an allegation the state government has since denied) through the deployment of some policemen around the vicinity of the Efe Asabo. Nigerian Tribune also gathered that Etubom Bassey actually wanted a candidate from Western Calabar in the person of the newly crowned Etubom, (Dr.) Anthony Ani, one-time Minister of Finance. Ani is from Ikoneto in Western Calabar, an area already waiting to occupy the coveted seat this year as the late Obong had reportedly recommended that Ikoneto should be given first consideration anytime there is need for succession.

With the coronation of Etubom Ani, expectations were high that given his towering credentials and outreach in the country, his selection to occupy the exalted throne was a foregone conclusion. But these expectations were cut short by some kingmakers in Western Calabar, from where he hails, though thay had earlier assured him that he would enjoy their support.

When it was time for Western Calabar to present its candidate before the Etuboms Council in the palace of the Obong, it was learnt that Ani was screened out on the ground that having been made an Etubom in Western Calabar, he still needed to be inducted into the Etuboms Council in the palace of the Obong by a sitting Obong to perfect his qualification for consideration as Obong of Calabar. But the sitting Obong, Edidem Henshaw (yet to be replaced) died before Etubom Ani’s coronation. Now, there is no sitting Obong to induct Ani into the Etuboms Council in the palace of the Obong.

Analysts contend that the current crisis actually began when some people in Western Calabar decided to work against Etubom Ani’s interest. Etubom Bassey, who was reportedly working for Ani’s interest had to re-strategise and perfect an arrangement to ensure Etubom Ani emerge as the Obong. But on March 31, Etubom’s Council elected Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu of Adiabo, also in Western Calabar, as the Obong-elect.

Before the Etubom’s Council could commence the traditional activities to formally announce the demise of the Obong and selection of his successor, things took a different dimension in the camp of Etubom Bassey. He reportedly perfected an arrangement to get Dr. Ani into the Afe Esabo for the capping rituals on the April 6, when he got a tip-off that Etuboms Council members in support of Out would be taking him to the shrine for the same rite.

Eventually, it was Etubom Bassey who reportedly left Ani and got other Etuboms and some senior chiefs in the palace to support him, as he got himself capped instead. The was said to be upon Ani’s refusal to go to the shrine with Bassey.

Since this capping of Etubom Bassey as the new Obong of Calabar, Efikland, known for its cohesion, has not seen peace in the Obong’s palace. Different factions now lay claim to the throne. According to Efik tradition, no one can be capped again as Obong while the person earlier crowned as such is still alive. So, Etubom Bassey’s action has created another dimension in crisis as all eyes were now turned to Edidem Otu, elected by the Etubom Council, but was yet to be capped at the Efe Asabo shrine.

On the other hand, Etubom Ani had not given up on the struggle to replace the late Obong. As apostles of due process, his supporters went to court praying the latter to annul the selection exercise done by the Western Calabar Traditional Council, which excluded him from the list of possible heirs to the throne sent to the palace of the Obong.

According to those in support of Etubom Otu, the kingship shrine has been desecrated by the Etubom Bassey group, and must, therefore, be cleansed before any other ritual can be done in it. The attempt to cleanse the shrine later resulted in the clash that left about 10 persons injured.

The bloody clash forced the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, to publicly react for the first time since the crisis began. Moved by the fear of imminent breakdown of law and order over the succession tussle, Governor Imoke called on the various interest groups in the matter to deploy due process to select the Obong.

The governor’s reaction coincided with that of the Esop Ndito Isong Efik socio-cultural organisation, which, in a statement issued by its president, Peter Duke, advised all the contending parties in the matter to follow due process to select another Obong for the Efik.

The group said it was on the path of due process for being in support of Otu. Already, it had announced the programme of events for the funeral of the late Obong and commenced the traditional rites of announcing the demise of the Obong aa well as processes leading to the coronation of his successor.

Etubom (now Edidem) Otu was crowned at the Efe Asabo shrine in Calabar on Saturday, May 3, as the 51st Obong of Calabar after which he moved to the No. 7, Effanga Ansa Street, Henshaw Town, Calabar palace of the Efik monarch to commence his reign. 

-- http://www.tribune.com.ng/02062008/s_south_cul.html

Obasanjo Sold Nigeria To Economic Terrorists –– Obong of Calabar, 5/24/08, Leadership

By Stanley Yakubu

The Obong of Calabar, His Majesty Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, has narrated how former President Olusegun Obasanjo deliberately sold virtually everything that belongs to the Nigerian people to a few individuals, under the guise of privatisation.

According to him, the former Nigerian leader conspired with, and sold out important sectors of the nation's economy to his friends and cronies, all in the name of encouraging private participation in the running of public organisations.

The royal father, who spoke in Abuja when he visited the corporate headquarters of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group on Thursday, noted that Obasanjo's action has made "Nigeria the most privatised country in the whole world today".

For eight years, the traditional ruler declared, Nigeria was being reduced to a country without direction, as all that belonged to the entire people was grabbed by a few.

"Nigeria is just emerging from a situation that was most unacceptable to us. The eight years of Obasanjo were years of futility," Obong Bassey said. "During those eight years, Obasanjo made it look as if government must disengage from all sectors of the economy. In doing this, the government did not even take into consideration the significance and state of the health and education sectors, or the state of infrastructure in the country. The situation became so bad that Nigeria has become the most privatised country in the whole world, and everything was sold to a few who have today become proprietors of the federation."

The country, he stated, "will not move forward unless we take back all they stole from us in the name of privatisation and ensure that there is justice and equity in the land."

Before the advent of Obasanjo's administration, the traditional ruler noted, the poverty level was at 48 per cent, but as at 2006, it had risen to 75 per cent "and now I am sure it may be about 80 per cent."

On the continuous crisis in the Niger Delta region, His Majesty Bassey II stated that the government was yet to uncover the real cause of the disturbances. He identified the unequal sharing of the nation's wealth as the root cause of the Niger Delta crisis.

He carpeted the Cross River State governor, Lyel Imoke, and some few members of the elite of the state for encouraging militants’ activities in the Niger Delta.

The Obong was accompanied by Etubom Nya Asuquo (prime minister), Etubom Ekpeyong Ayi (chairman of cabinet) and Etubom Ambrose Akparuika, among others.

-- www.leadershipnigeria.com/product_info.php?products_id=28354

CRSG debunks interference in Obongship tussle, 5/24/08, Tide

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Cross River State Government has denied any interference in the Obongship tussle saying it would not as a matter of policy interfere in the choice of an Obong in Calabar, but however gave insight as to what path it might tread in the ongoing Obongship tussle in the state capital.

Reacting to a question during an interactive session with journalists in his office at the weekend, Governor Imoke said, “it is most unfair and most uncharitable to say government is interfering. I don’t know the new Obong of Calabar. If he were to be here now in this audience, I tell you I wouldn’t recognize him.” 

When further pressed to identify which of the Obong’s he was talking about, he smiled and replied, “the one who followed due process. Obongship stool has a long history. It is an institution that needs to be preserved. So in ascending that stool, the rule of law must be followed. So, I am talking about the Obong who followed due process.” It will be recalled that after the passing on of Edidem (Prof.) Nta Henshaw, the late Obong of Calabar, a faction of the Etubom Traditional Council on April 6, 2008 capped Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey as the new Obong of Calabar with the title, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey 11. 

Subsequently, on May 3, 2008, the other faction of the Etubom Traditional Council also capped Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the new Obong of Calabar with the title Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V.

In his maiden speech, the Obong who was capped on May 3, 2008 urged the council members to cultivate the attitude of forgiveness, especially if those that had offended the Efik nation sincerely feel remorse for what he called their nefarious acts and come back to apologise. 

Reacting to the two scenarios however, a human rights activist and legal practitioner in Calabar, Barrrister Okoi Obono-Obla, in his capacity as the secretary-general of the Cross River Movement For Justice (CRMFJ) said, “the government of Cross River State has developed cold feet and goose pimple on the ascension of the revered throne of the Efik kingdom by Bassey Ekpo Bassey. The government is apprehensive that the ascension of the throne by a distinguished personage such as Etubom Bassey Ekpo, an intellectual with revolutionary instincts would be a vista for the opening of the political space and the possibility of the emergence of an alternative political and power block / base particularly in the Southern part of Cross River State .”

Meanwhile, a High Court sitting in Calabar had given notice to Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok, Etubom Michael Archibong and the Obong, Edidem Ekpo Abasi Otu to appear before the court to show why an order for their committal should not be made.

-- www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=05/24/2008&qrTitle=
CRSG%20debunks%20interference%20in%20Obongship%20tussle&qrColumn=NIGER%20DELTA

 

Obong of Calabar Accuses Imoke, Ita-Giwa, Others Of N1 Billion Messy Deal, 5/23/08, Leadership (Abuja)

The Obong of Calabar, Etubom Efio-Ete Bassey, has accused Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, Senator Bassey Ewah Henshaw, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa and the self-acclaimed paramount ruler of Bakassi, Etim Okon Edet, of diversion of about N1 billion voted for resettlement of displaced Bakassi indigenes in Cameroon.

The Obong of Calabar made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to the corporate headquarters of LEADERSHIP newspapers, along with his entire traditional cabinet, yesterday in Abuja.

The Federal Government according to the paramount ruler, had voted about N1 billion for the resettlement of Nigerians who were displaced from the disputed oil-rich Bakassi community but said the huge amount of money is being diverted for personal expenditure by Imoke and his political gang.

"No one is relocating from Bakassi to Cross River State. Yet there is about N1 billion which the Federal Government budgeted for the relocation of the displaced Bakassi people. Our governor, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Senator Bassy Ewah Henshaw and one fake paramount ruler of Bakassi, Etim Okon Edet, are profiting from it. They claim to be from Bakassi but none of them is from Bakassi", the Obong stated.

He particularly accused governor Imoke of encouraging and sponsoring militants in the state for selfish political motives, which according to him is creating a state of insecurity in the oil- producing areas of the state.

"We are waging a war on discouraging governor Imoke from sponsoring militants in Cross River State; we are worried about our people being used for criminal activities by the governor", the paramount ruler stated.

The Obong used the occasion to explain the seeming crisis in the Obong of Calabar tussle, accusing the governor of interfering in the traditional matters for selfish political reasons.

According to him, "I was duly crowned as Obong of Calabar; but a few people said otherwise and we went to court. But the governor is interfering with the judicial process. We are saying if the governor and his people have any case against us, let them go to court of law for redress."

He expressed serious concern over the state of the Niger Delta region, attributing the problems to the uneven distribution of wealth in the region.

A professional journalist who is a one-time chairman of the Cross River State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), he commended the consistent role of LEADERSHIP newspapers in championing democratic norms and values, free society, anti-corruption and by extension giving voice to the voiceless.

"I am happy and honoured to associate with LEADERSHIP. You are the last hope of the common people in Nigeria. You have consistently stood firm against corruption and don't give up until we recover our wealth from a few elite who in the last eight years appropriated our common wealth to themselves", the Obong of Calabar said.

Earlier, while welcoming the paramount ruler and his cabinet, the chairman/editor-in-chief of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, commended him for his consistent progressive views on national issues. '

Mr. Nda-Isaiah said the country would be a better place for everybody to live in if many traditional rulers followed the path of righteousness and truth like the Obong of Calabar.

"Until the court decides otherwise, you are the Obong of Calabar we know", the chairman said.

Those who accompanied the Obong of Calabar to the corporate headquarters of LEADERSHIPincluded: Etubom Nya Asuquo (prime minister), Etubom Ekpeyong Ayi (chairman of cabinet), Etubom Ambrose Akparuika, Etubom Archibong Archibong Omon and Etubom Efio-Eke Bassey.

-- allafrica.com/stories/200805230410.html

Efik Kingmakers Unhappy Over Imoke's Comments, 5/22/08, Leadership (Abuja)

22 May 2008 

By George Oraeki
Abuja 

Kingmakers (Etuboms) in Efik Kingdom have reacted to the comments made by the governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke in a recent media parley to the effect that his government would give recognition to the Obong of Calabar, who, he said, was selected through due process. 

The kingmakers, who reacted under the umbrella of Etubom Traditional Council, said as far as the tradition of the Efik people was concerned, there was no place for second capping. 

A statement issued by the kingmakers in Calabar tagged "Governor Got It Wrong", signed by HRH Etubom, Nya Eyoma Asuquo, Traditional Prime Minister, and HRH Etubom Ayi E. Edem, chairman, Etubom Tradition Council, regretted the governor's position "The governor is reported as saying his government shall give recognition to the Obong of Calabar purportedly selected through due process. Given the role of his deputy, Mr. Efiok Cobham, in propping up the minority group of Etuboms to commit their serial act of illegality, with state facilities and resources, it is rather clear that His Excellency was referring to their Obong. 

"The Etuboms Traditional Council wishes to state clearly, and for the avoidance of doubts, that there can only be one Obong of Calabar, and that, that Obong is his Majesty, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II. Bassey was duly selected by Etuboms of Efik Royal Houses and capped at Efe Asabo, our kingship shrine. The tradition is that no other person can be so capped in his lifetime, and his capping cannot be reversed. 

Our history is replete with instances where government did not like the person capped, but none ever attempted the sacrilege of a second capping has no effect whatsoever." the statement read in part. They said as far as the history of the Efik people was concerned, the position of the Obong of Calabar was not an appointive position of the Cross River State Government and so that capping has no effect whatsoever. 

The People said if the due process the governor was talking about referred to the so-called funeral obsequies of the late Obong, performed by the minority group, they said they wished to advise Imoke as follows: "There is no basis whatsoever for performing traditional obsequies for the Late Henshaw VI. Those obsequies are Ekpe-based, and so he had renounced Ekpe in his lifetime on account of his born-again Christian faith. Government must not encourage any group of people to disrespect another person's religious faith. 

The obsequies were performed in contempt of Court. The presiding judge in a matter between the minority group and an Etubom (with a national and international standing) HRH Etubom, Dr. Anthony Ani, had expressively asked them not to proceed with the obsequies. "They did not only disobey the Court, they did the obsequies with the massive deployments of the police, provided by the state government. In other words, government assisted them breach the law. Certainly, His Excellency would not hold this act of lawlessness up as due process? 

In an earlier statement, Governor Imoke advised all parties in the so-called Obongship dispute to read the various white papers on enquiries into disputes regarding the Obongship. We wish to refer to one such Enquiry, the Udoh Commission. The commission examined historical facts and concluded that performance of funeral obsequies is not a condition for capping a candidate as Obong of Calabar! How can that now be positioned as due process?. 

The kingmakers accused the deputy governor of designing and carrying out the intervention of the state government in the matter, with insufficient information on what constitutes due process. 

-- http://allafrica.com/stories/200805220276.html

One throne, 2 kings, 5/19/08, Daily Sun, Nigeria

• All the politics, intrigues, mischief about Obong of Calabar war 
By EMERSON GOBERT, JR
Monday, May 19, 2008 

The friendly ambience of Nigeria’s answer to the biblical Canaan, Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, is swiftly giving way to anarchy and thuggery in its traditional setting, caused by a bitter controversy surrounding the Obongship of Calabar.

Since Edidem (Prof.) Nta Elijah Henshaw passed on recently, crisis has engulfed the city over the royal stool which even the late Henshaw occupied amid controversy. However, the Obongship which has existed for more than five centuries is not new to tussles. History is replete with internal wranglings that almost always precede the ascension of a new Obong. But the uniqueness of the latest crisis is that it is a case of one throne and two kings laying claim to it.

On one side is Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey and on the other, His eminence, Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, and the two titans have their loyal followers. While Bassey, a journalist, administrator and politician has taken full advantage of his estate, the media, Otu V, an engineer, has taken over the palace with his retinue of loyalists. There is high-level politicking, intrigues and mischief that have brewed tension which if not difused fast, may degenerate into a full-scale physical war.

Days after the demise of Prof. Henshaw, Bassey Ekpo Bassey was proclaimed the new Obong of Calabar. The development was not just in the local media but also on the internet. However, opposition mounted against the pronouncement thus raising questions on the criteria for selection, due process and whose turn it is to produce the new Obong as there was an earlier agreement on how to pick anew Obong. Besides, there is the unsettling development in the area known as Calabar or Efik kingdom which has split geographically.

On the 29th of April, 2008, a group called the Concerned Efik Women clad in black and carrying palm fronds marched through some streets of Calabar into the Obong’s palace on a solidarity visit to the Etubom’s Council. Inasmuch as there was police presence in the palace, there were also wild youths with horse whips controlling movement along adjoining streets to the palace. Succintly put, the women were at the palace in support of the choice of Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the new Obong of Calabar. As they said, an Obong of Calabar is not made on the pages of newspapers. 

Addressing the women, the chairman of the Etuboms’ Council, His Royal Highness, Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok, assured the women that nothing on earth would divide the Efiks again. He later told Daily Sun at the palace of the Obong of Calabar that there are procedures in selecting an Obong which Bassey Ekpo Bassey had not gone through so could not be accepted as Obong of Calabar.

But as far as Etubom Bassey Oko Bassey Duke, who is the Etubom of Duke House, is concerned, Bassey Ekpo Bassey is a man who believes in rascality and does not have any limit to it hence should not be taken seriously.

Where Etubom Bassey Duke may have been cautious in his diction, Bassey Ekpo Bassey could not escape the vitriolic fangs of His Royal Highness, Etubom Otu Efa Otu from Abiaobo. He likened Bassey Ekpo Bassey’s position to that of Lucifer, who was in heaven, but was thrown out for disobedience.

But cerebral Bassey Ekpo Bassey is undaunted. If controversy is not his other name then it may be a middle name. He is known for his resilience and doggedness. He told Daily Sun that anybody who is opposing him should show where he erred traditionally and he will prove how ridiculous the point is. As far as he is concerned, he has been capped at the shrine and that is the clincher. “I am the Obong of Calabar,” he declared emphatically, flaunting pictures taken during his installation. 

He went ahead to describe his opponents as his juniors in the Etuboms’ Council, who are fed on a diet of illegality, accusing the Cross River State Deputy Governor, Mr Effiom Cobham, of running a militia which he is using to support his (Bassey’s) opponents. The gravity of his allegation made Daily Sun to seek the deputy governor’s comments on the matter but the Chief Press Secretary, Effiong Okon, who spoke on behalf of his boss said the deputy governor was neutral: “Government cannot, on one hand, be using money to maintain law and order while fomenting crisis on the other. It is illogical,” he submitted.

The press secretary described Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V as a product of due process. “What Bassey did has never happened in Efik history”, he said, so, summed it up as an abomination of its kind.

The 59-year-old Electronics engineer denied being sponsored by government as he has spent almost his entire life in the federal civil service and lived in Lagos and Warri. His father was a member of the Etuboms’ Council.

Otu V, who was speaking with the Press for the first time after his installation, exclusively told Daily Sun that he will focus on the unification of all Efik Houses to strengthen them in all ways and let everybody have a sense of belonging such that “we can forge ahead as one family.”

But an uneasy calm pervades the atmosphere in Calabar. People are having a field day, asking who is your Obong? Already, it has become a matter for the court of law. There are fears that if something concrete was not done fast to ensure a quick resolution of this royal logjam, the legendary definition of the first capital of Nigeria, CALABAR – Come And Live And Be At Rest – may be threatened and the government’s desire to make Cross River State a tourism destination of the sub-Sahara may afterall be an illusion despite the huge money committed to that dream.

A senior citizen in the state, who expressed his concern on condition of anonymity, wondered why there should always be trouble with the stool of the Obong of Calabar. Hear him: “To be candid, what Bassey Ekpo Bassey has done is wrong. He did not follow due process. There’s a million dollar question: Can the government allow an individual to commit the same crime twice? Is Basey Ekpo Bassey above the law? A kingmaker should be contented to be a kingmaker and not a king.

“Can the government be a coward not to call a spade a spade? This journalist did it the first time and is doing it again. Can’t he be called to order? Why are they afraid of him? To stop this turbulence, the government should not lie low because if the government keeps quiet, we don’t know what will happen to the youths because they are saying that Basey Ekpo Bassey is not the Obong. It can bring about crisis and killings. We are not happy. We like to live in peace. We don’t like thugs going to fight anybody.” 

This worry typifies the tension and anxiety that has ensnared Calabar residents who are closely following the unwholesome drama.

Efforts to contact the state Commissioner of Police for his side of the story on police involvement were futile as at the time of going to the Press. If the rumblings over the stool of Obong should be allowed to bursts, the situation may become an antithesis of the biblical Canaan.

Meanwhile, the two parties have a court date on May 21. But some persons are still questioning if it is a matter for the court to decide who is the authentic Obong of Calabar. All the messy details are in the ensuing interviews. The package is a made-in-Calabar theatre of the absurd, dippen in politics, intrigues and mischief.

-- http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/features/special-%20reports/2008/may/19/special-report-19-05-2008-001.htm

Obong of Calabar disputed crown: My story, by Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi, 5/17/08, Vanguard

Written by GEORGE ONAH 
[Andy Petit comments this article in italics. The author, George Onah, is related to a senior member of the Cross River State Government, which, together with missionaries and corrupt elements, imposed Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi as second Obong with armed forces over the resistance of the people of Calabar.]

Saturday, 17 May 2008 

Few weeks ago, Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, was a paradox of solemnity and joy. While the Efiks in five local governments of the state mourned the demise of Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw, the immediate past Obong of Calabar, a set of the people were busy crowning another Obong. But it was not to be because it was said that the Efiks don’t crown an Obong on Sunday and not until the body of the departed one is interred. 

[Sunday, a day not known to true Efik culture, has nothing to do with a crowning; this is nonsense promoted by missionaries. Once dead, the Obong is buried immediately, the public burial happens months afterwards.]

As a result, the capping of another Obong caused uproar in the city, one person was killed. 

[The death occurred during the 5th attempt to cap this second Obong, which is contrary to all Efik traditions. Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu and his gang of crooked supporters are responsible for this death and for the many people wounded by machetes as they persisted in carrying out a second capping of himself as Obong and was resisted by the people of Calabar.]

People shouted blue murder, saying the situation must be reversed. 

[The only people shouting against the first, valid and legal capping were the followers of Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, the second Obong. The great majority of the people in Calabar side with the first Obong and successfully defended the shrine against 5 attempts to cap a second Obong. It was only a massive police and military presence which led to the second Obong being capped on the 6th attempt, proof of how unpopular this second capping was.]

A few days later, the funeral of Henshaw was over and it was time to look inwards and install a proper monarch for the Efiks. The Etuboms-in-Council met and crowned the man the cap fits. Sunday Vanguard met with Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, the newly crowned Obong at Adiabor, his country home which currently serves as the palace. He spoke about his background, working years, service to his community before being elected as the Obong.

We would like to know about your birth, childhood, education, work experience and all?
[Here we hear a great deal about his Christian education and his career as technocrat, but very little about his grounding in traditional Ekpe culture.]
I am Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, born in this very community, Adiabor Ikot Mbo, to the family of the late Etubom Okon Abasi Otu of Adiabor Ikot Mbo who was a member of the Obong’s council during the reign of Edidem Archibong Edem V. My mother, Madam Iquo Okokon Ansa from Ikot Okon Archibong in Odukpani Local Government Area, is equally from here. I was born on November 20, 1949 to this family. I had my primary education here in Adiabor, St Patrick’s Primary School. It was the first convent by the Catholic Mission but being male we only had to stay for a few years and we were transferred to where the males were, that is St. Mary’s Primary School, in Adiabor where I completed my primary school and went into secondary school. I had my secondary education here in Capalace of the Obong of Calabarlabar in West African Peoples’ Institute, WAPI. But initially as a Catholic I was supposed to have had admission to St. Patrick’s, but, that same year was the year the Catholic Mission was opening another Catholic Secondary School at Eket, St Francis Ikot Atako (present day Akwa Ibom State). After our entrance interview they had to divide the candidates into two. One set to St. Patrick’s Calabar, another to St. Francis. I was sent to be one of the pioneer students in St. Francis Ikot Atako. But looking at the distance then, my parents said no and that was why I had to fall back to WAPI. After my secondary education in 1968, I gained employment with the Post and Telecommunication Department as technical officer in training. I also did my higher school at Mary knoll, Okuku, (Yala), Ogoja. In September 1969 I went to Oshodi PT Training School that is as technical officer in training. I was there for three years and because we were the first International Telecommunications Union students, that were admitted, it wasn’t our local arrangement, so others came in from the other countries like Ghana, Gambia and so we formed that corps of the students that started that course. 

Domestic satellite course

At the end, we were offered diploma in telecommunications engineering, then I started working as an assistant technical officer with the P&T. I was promoted technical officer and it went on like that until 1983 when the merger of P&T and Nigerian External Telecommunications took place. During the process, I was sent to the US, Houston and from there Melbourne Florida to attend the domestic satellite course. I later worked variously as manager there until I left (retired) after the deregulation and had to move to Telnet Nig. Ltd. 

They had a major contract from Shell in Warri to maintain the entire telecommunications network in all their outfits. After three years another contracting firm, Macnel Nig. Ltd., stepped in and retained me and made me the divisional manager in the West (Warri Area). After working for some years, Shell saw my recommendation, my performance and execution of contracts, they decided that I cross over and, became a supervisor.

In the course of doing this, I didn’t just sit down over my education, I registered with the University of Benin and graduated with a degree in electronics/communication engineering. That boosted my being able to head divisions and so on. After a point, I was not retired or sent out but there was this vacancy in my community. The last clan head wasn’t quite effective (ill) so there was need for me to back up and was doing some running in and out in the administration of this community. So, at the end of it when he gave up, there was need for me to take over as the clan head of Ikot Mbo. So I had to resign and take up that appointment because the community needed me. From here, I was taken to Odukpani traditional rulers’ council as the clan head-elect, received and capped into that council. But to crown it all, I had to move down to the Obong’s Palace to be capped and taken in as an Etubom, representing Adiabor Ikot Mbotu, that was in 2004. I was capped by Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw and I worked with him till he passed on.

[Nta Elijah Henshaw was the former Obong of Calabar, who, as soon as he became Obong, renounced Ekpe and announced he was ‘born-again’, and began to steal money for his family.  Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu became Etubom in 2004, while Bassey was capped as Etubom in 1993. The procedure is that the one capped as Etubom first has precedence to become Obong.]


What are the credentials to become an Obong? Must he necessarily be a clan head or Etubom and so on? 
A lot is required before one can become an Obong. It starts from your family, because your family actually makes you an Etubom. When you are the head of the family and there is a vacancy such as heading the community and it becomes your turn to head the community, the community then nominates you and actually initiates you as the head of the community. In our own community like Adiabor, this is just one community out of five. What we do here is that the general Adiabor council will vote, Adiabor Ikot Mbotu will now present you to our founding father, and you are now known and called an Etubom, representing Adiabor or any other Adiabor. 

At that point you are now led to the palace of the Obong of Calabar where you are initiated as an Etubom representing that family, that is, the standard houses that are in Efikland. It is not done overnight, you must come through the family of existing houses in Efik history that have been maintaining the Obong of Calabar. But where you are not in the palace and represented at the palace of the Obong of Calabar, you have no right to contest the Obongship. 
[This seems an indirect reference to Bassey Ekpo Bassey, who left Obong Nta Elijah Henshaw’s palace in the early 2000s because he discovered the graft going on and confronted the Obong and other Etuboms about this.  Insults were thrown, and Bassey allegedly slapped another Etubom -- he was never forgiven by the crooks! 
Nta Elijah Henshaw's specialty was obtaining government funds for villages that don't exist.]

You must be capped by an existing Obong and given staff of office and given authority of representation anywhere. In fact there were instances that the chairman of the council capped some people as Etubom and they were thrown out because they were not capped by an Obong. The capping is significant because you are now accepted by the Obong, you are later taken into the council because you are no more the Etubom of your community but Etubom of the entire Efik, you can represent the Obong, you can be sent to talk on behalf of the Efiks anywhere. That’s the difference; if you are not capped and taken in, you cannot perform any of the functions, like talking for the Efiks or anything on behalf of the Efiks.

In other words, if you are not an Etubom you cannot be made an Obong?
No way, you cannot be made an Obong and Etuboms have categories. You could be made an Etubom in your house, that is your family. But if you are not presented to Obong’s Council and you are capped and accepted by the Obong into the council, you are not part and parcel of that council, that type of Etubom cannot be made an Obong.

Did you actually contest the position?
Of course.

What were the processes you underwent?
There were several processes. This time, it was the turn of western Calabar. So, when it was time, a memo was sent from the palace of the Obong of Calabar to western Calabar and we picked it up. Those that constitute western Calabar are Ikoneto, Creek Town and Adiabor, in Odukpani Local Government. So at the general meetings which we have on monthly basis, we read the letter to everybody and told the three houses that we needed somebody. This is done according to tradition, when these people bring their candidates, the western Calabar traditional council now sits together and screen the candidates and recommend the best among them to the palace of the Obong and that is exactly what happened. It wasn’t actually a contest but we only went through the normal process.

Would you call that due process?
Yes.

Now the Etuboms-in-council, you said, would write from the palace to the next group whose turn it is to produce the Obong; how many Etuboms make up this Etuboms-in-council, that is, how many ruling houses make up this Etuboms-in-council?
[Here Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu clearly admits that the Etubom’s council at the Obong’s palace is a minority faction:]
There are about 30 houses that make up the Efik houses, which means they are supposed to have 30 Etuboms in that council but, unfortunately, most of the houses lost their Etuboms and during this period have not replaced them. Most of the houses also have problems with the council, either they misbehaved and were sent out of the council or some of them stopped attending meetings, without being sent away, of course that is personal to them. So when the late Obong was there, we were almost 18, on full strength, that were coming to the council, day-in, day-out. The rest were yet to be either replaced on personal grounds, or were sent out completely from the council due to misbehaviour.

And if you misbehaved and are sent out or de-robed, can you still become and Obong?
No way, it’s not possible. In the first place, if a child quarrels with his father in the home, he cannot go and stand outside and present himself as the head of that family. Something is expected, a reasonable child would run back to the father, apologise, appeal and his father will accept him back. It is always a ceremonial day if such a thing happens. The Etuboms council would know that this person has been re-instated back to the council. But when you stay away and you are recalcitrant, you don’t want to see what is wrong with whatever you did, you will stay where you are and a document was raised in that regard and no one has refuted it till date.
[More references to Bassey's quarrel with the crooked Obong who preceded him.]

Do you have factions in the Etuboms council?
For now no. That is what has surprised everybody and that is the success of this very administration that I am sitting on. In previous years, administrations or periods, that is what they used to thrive in - separation. That could happen during election or selection of the Obong. They would split into two with each group supporting the candidates of their choice. There would be factions and tension and at the end of it one side succeeds and the other group refuses to accept the victory of the opponent. But they would later reconcile and regroup as one family. In this case (his selection), and for so many years, dating back to four or five Obongs, all the Etuboms stayed as one, spoke with one voice, deliberated together and made sure that we are all together. We have sworn that we would stay together, so, no faction as far as the Etuboms council is concerned.

Crowning of Bassey Ekpo Bassey. So how come some Etuboms say they crowned Bassey Ekpo Bassey?
That is fantasy, it is like one of those things we see in papers or watch in films or the projection of what people feel should be, which is not. You don’t just walk to any house and create a scene, no. You don’t go from house to house and tell people that I have made you an Etubom and the next house and pronounce the same thing. At the end of it, what happened? You said you have a conclave of etuboms, outside the traditional palace of the Obong of Calabar. It doesn’t work out like that and it can never be. And who are these people? They are not known. The fun of it is that, these very people he is mentioning are from the existing houses, which have their representatives already sitting there (Obong’s palace). So, how many Etuboms would one house have? You cannot have two Etuboms from one house in the palace of the Obong, it has never happened.

Litigation - You said a letter was sent to you, western Calabar , to select somebody, and the group selected you. Is there anyone in court disputing this position?
Yes, that is Chief Anthony Ani (Finance minister in the administration of late Gen. Sani Abacha), who came in at the last minute of the selection process and exchanged his position with one of his brothers, that is Etubom Okon Effiong Offiong. Even when in the Obong’s palace, we were discussing this issue; somebody hinted that he (Offiong) was making arrangement to swap position with Anthony Ani.  [Chief Anthony Ani as finance minister of Nigeria oversaw the looting of the Nigerian treasury, in excess of US $5 billion.]

When we confronted him with the allegation, he swore with everything that he had never thought in that direction, he was not party to such a thing. But two weeks later, we saw a letter coming from him, that he had swapped his position with Tony Ani. That he had to do that because his health had started failing him, he cannot continue as leader of his family because it had become very stressful and so he wanted Tony Ani to take up the leadership of his family, which is Ikot Nkpo. That is personal to them, that is their family dealing and that sort of thing no one can say no or yes.

But in the Efik tradition, is it acceptable for someone to just wake up and say, well I am weak now, let somebody else take over and with what you have said, there is no ceremony and a new person becomes an Etubom, is it done?
To become an Etubom, you undergo processes and that sort of person becomes an Etubom-elect. It is only when the family presents him (Chief Tony Ani) to the western Calabar Traditional Rulers Council, it is then and there that western Calabar would take him, accept him, it is only then that he becomes an Etubom.  But it doesn’t stop there, he is just a member of that council, he still has one other hurdle to cross, because he has to be taken to the Etuboms council in the palace of the Obong of Calabar where he would now be accepted by the Obong himself, capped and given a seat to replace whosoever is being replaced. 

But this never happened because our Obong was sick. There is a law in our land which says when the Obong is sick, no ceremonies, nobody can be brought in to be capped as Etubom everybody has to wait until an Obong is selected and installed. As such, that sort of person has no right to say that he is contesting for the stool of Obong of Calabar.

Does that mean that the transfer of or swapping of Etubomship happened when the Obong became sick? Does it also mean that Chief Tony Ani was not known in the Odukpani Council of Chiefs?
No way, he is not part of it either as clan head, because you must become a clan head before you become a member of the Odukpani traditional council. He is just a chief in his domain and then in the Efik entirety, he was honoured as High Chief, Ada Idaha ke Efik Eburutu. But that does not give you room to the inner caucus of the palace of the Obong.

Factional Obong of Calabar - Do you see yourself as a factional Obong of Calabar?
No way! Not possible, if I have to say that, that means there is faction in my council. We have been working together, not even one of them has stepped out, so, I am not a factional Obong, I am the true Obong of Calabar and will ever remain so.

Is it true, as an Etubom once said, that the crown of the Obong is always snatched when it is vacant?
That is not true. It is a picture that any individual can make out of it. Naturally, the title or crown of the Obong of Calabar stays with the people. There may be argument within them but nobody goes near the crown. They would sit far away and argue, asking who is going to wear that crown. Every faction or group would lay claim to it, but all these people have to be members of the Obong’s council. You cannot stay out and lay claim to what is not yours. Until the argument is resolved, no one takes it, after that, the selected individual is taken to the shrine and the crown put on him. It is not something that one individual would go, pick up and put on his head, no, it has never happened.

Breaking into the Shrine, Efe Asabo

Recently, we heard, somebody broke into the shrine and called himself Obong. But, there was nothing in that shrine, the family concerned had taken everything out of the shrine before this time, so it was an empty shrine. So you went there to crown yourself with what. The traditional stool that you are supposed to sit is not there, the traditional plates that are used to put water and oil on you were not there. Everything relating to the coronation was taken away and stored somewhere.
[Another reference to Bassey Ekpo Bassey, and a most curious one, given that Bassey and his Ekpe lodge were and are custodians of that shrine. So why would they have taken away their own stool and plates?]

Who took them away?
Of course the custodians of the shrine. The Efiks share everything they have to different families. So this family is the family that crowns, there is no way anybody can burst in there and do anything illegally and be accepted.

We heard that you tried up to five times to get crowned at Efe Asabo (shrine) but only succeeded at the sixth time
Those are false and stupid stories. There is no way we would say, let’s go and try, no. We never attempted severally as being speculated. The custodians of that very shrine went in once to cleanse it, open the place, clean it for the coronation proper of the proper person. But they were chased away.
[Here Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu enunciates an easily refuted lie, given the substantial news coverage of the other 5 attempts to cap him by force. See articles below.]

So, in other words, he crowned himself and nobody crowned him?
Yes, nobody crowned him. Not even one Etubom from the Obong’s palace, not even one blue blood that is supposed to do the coronation crowned him and there was nothing there for him to use. He just came out of that house and he started proclaiming, ‘I am the Obong? But, in my own case, the whole of the Efiks from different families were present. Also, there is no way any Efik son can walk into that shrine on Sunday and say he is crowned. [See the Photo gallery of the Obong's coronation ceremony with narrative to see how Bassey Ekpo Bassey was properly capped.]

Forbidden days of coronation - Does that mean an Obong is not crowned on Sunday?
No way.
[Clearly more missionary gibberish!]

So when are they crowned?
Any other day, but never on Sunday. We Efiks have to dedicate that day to religious matters because that is the day people go to church and go about their religious business and everywhere is calm and quiet. And in those days, if you dare fight or make unpleasant noise, it was against the native laws of the Efiks, so you cannot do any crowning on Sunday.
[Since when does the Christian holy day have anything to do with Efik tradition, which predates the arrival of the missionaries?]

For those who are in court, what are you saying to them?
Naturally, they have to run somewhere to seek redress, right? That is the way we take it, but the truth is right there on the table, it is not for them, whether they take it or leave it, there is nothing they can do. All the same, let’s hear what the courts would say. But in Efik history, the courts have never proclaimed an Obong for the Efiks, it is the Etuboms council, it is whatever they say that this is our king that stands, period. The courts would say go back and follow the normal process. At the end, they would all come back, we are all Efiks, the door is open.

As the king of the Efiks, what plans do you have for your people?
When you say king, you are saying a father, and that is what I term myself to be, what a good father does is to re-unite everybody, get his family back in place, create peace, harmony and develop a wealthy environment. But the very basic thing is that there has to be peace and we now plan on how we can move forward.

Let us look at Efik land generally, do you think something is lacking that you think you can introduce, given your wealth of experience in life?
I would want this place to be industrialized. Civilization in Nigeria started here and that is very painful when you look at things now. We are actually behind in everything. This industrialization would be in line with what is happening elsewhere.

We are known as being very peaceful but I want to say that industrialization comes with many things; we would want to categorize the industrialization so that it does not distort our peaceful nature. All the violence in some regions is as a result of industrialization. Again we have to work hand-in-hand with the government, because you cannot plan it all alone and what does the government need from traditional rulers? It is peace.

[In other words, European influence defines civilization in Nigeria, and by working with corrupt government, they will make ‘progress’!]

-- http://www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8402&Itemid=126

Nigeria: Festering Sores, 5/14/08, Vanguard

Vanguard (Lagos)
14 May 2008

Owei Lakemfa
Lagos

PARTS of our country are sliding into anarchy and all we seem to do is watch. But no serious country will wait for blood shed when proactive steps can be taken to save lives and property.

Two instances of the festering sores- the anarchy in the Ekiti State House of Assembly and the tussle over the Obong of Calabar where two kings have been crowned for the same stool while a third claimant fights on in the courts.


The 500-year history of the Efiks witnessed the unusual when on Saturday May 3, 2008 a new Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi was crowned while a subsisting Obong is alive. Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II had been crowned in the sacred Efik shrine, Efe Asabo on April 6, 2008.

Following the crowning of the latter, desperate and quiet bloody attempts were made by those opposed to his kingship to seize the shrine. After bloody campaigns and efforts, the shrine fell like a conquered enemy territory, and the conquerors marched in to crown a second Obong.

The Cross Rivers State has had experiences over disputes on the emergence or crowning of a new Obong. The opposition to the crowning of the deceased Obong, Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw VI was so stiff that the then governor, Donald Duke arrested him and the then chief priest of the shrine (now) Edidem Ekpo Bassey Ekpo and threw them into prison. Wise counsel later prevailed and the men were set free.

The current tussle is a tragedy; if thuggery is the basis of crowning an Obong, what moral authority will he have over his people? What respect will an Obong crowned under the current circumstances command?

More fundamental is the violence and death that have been visited on the Efiks in the name of succession. How can we have so much violence and anarchy and government still claims affinity to "due process" and "the rule of law"? How can we allow the rule of might?

The point need be made that I am not passing judgment over which of the "crowned" Obongs was properly selected. What is at stake is not who the true Obong is or should be amongst the two crowned men, and Etubom Anthony Ani the third claimant. The point is that the state government failed to arrest the situation.

Once the dispute started festering, the government should have waded in, first by preventing the continuous violent assaults on the shrine and people, secondly by either convening a peace meeting or instituting a probe carried out by non-partisan persons. To turn a blind eye to the murderous attacks and issue a bland appeal for peace is like encouraging the anarchy that is now afoot.

If the state government supports a faction of the Efik king makers, how far is it ready to go? For how long can it contain the crisis, and can a magisterial pronouncement recognizing one claimant and rejecting others, bring peace?

The truth is that there is a dose of politics involved. Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey is known for radical politics and being non-conformist.

In contrast, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has conservative credentials. To make matters worse, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey ran for senatorial elections in the April 2007 elections on the platform of the opposition Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).

But the issue at stake should transcend partisan political interests or dislike for individuals. The government should allow an investigation of the circumstances leading to the crisis and do justice to the Efik people, their tradition and the people of Nigeria.

The situation in Ekiti has already exploded with the shootings that have occurred in the State Assembly. The Speaker, Hon Femi Bamisile had been accused of shooting randomly into a crowd of the opposition Action Congress (AC), injuring some of them. He last week claimed that his Deputy, Hon Saliu Adeoti had shot at him in the Assembly. The Speaker "sentenced" his Deputy to be "... locked up for the next six months for assaulting my PA".

Ekiti State had the misfortune of having three "governors" at a time, all from the ruling PDP and all claiming legitimacy. Ekiti House with members evenly divided between PDP and AC would have provided the country a good democratic challenge.

This same thing had happened in the United States; it brought out the beauty of their democracy. But in Ekiti, rather than engage the minds, might was used, and attempts made to brow-beat opponents into submission.

Unconventional measures such as trying to hold sittings at 6a.m. while opponents are asleep, holding sessions in secret or handing over the mace to the Police will not do. Dialogue, negotiations, respect for opponents and the Constitution and consensus building must prevail.

The National Assembly and the Presidency need to prod the Ekiti combatants to peaceful resolution. We delude ourselves if we think that what is happening in one part of the country will not affect the rest of us.

-- http://allafrica.com/stories/200805140223.html

Obong of Calabar calls for unity, peace, 5/13/08, Vanguard

Written by George Onah  
[Onah has close family ties to the Cross River State Government, which supported the second Obong capping with military force.]
Tuesday, 13 May 2008 

The newly crowned Obong of Calabar Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, adjudged to have observed due process before being capped, has called for unity of all factions and frailed nerves, in the tussle for the obong “so as to let peace reign in Calabar and the Cross River State generally”. 

Edidem Otu who spoke to Vanguard in an interview at Adiabo, Calabar, yesterday, said the situation on ground “does not call for acrimony, discord or violence but peaceful environment to enable the government move the state further in development.

Efik people are known for their legendary peaceful disposition to issues of this life. I wish to state that in every home people quarrel and make peace. I want us to come together as one big happy family. No group of people or community thrives in disharmony; we should and would not allow that.

The government needs traditional rulers to prevail on their people to keep the peace of the land as well as peaceful co-existence and of course peaceful environment. Nothing short of this would be acceptable to any civilized society”

The Efik monarch, who is also addressed as Treaty King, Natural Ruler and Grand Patriach of Efik Eburutu, said he would “work hand-in-hand with the government so that Calabar and indeed Cross River is industrialized for the sake of our wellbeing and generation unborn.

As a traditional ruler I should be able to bring the Efiks to rally the government for growth of the state. You will recall that the first capital of Nigeria was in Calabar but today the difference in state of affairs does not really portray this area as being the first capital of Nigeria .

Edidem Otu, who is a telecommunication expert and a graduate of the University of Lagos , said “we must work towards creating job opportunities for our children, we must take the jobless off the streets and this will only happen when we help the government to operate in a serene peaceful environment”.

Recently, Governor Lyel Imoke told the press in Calabar that the government would not interfere in the tussle over the obongship of the Efiks but would only recognize the obong who “followed due process”, before being capped.

Also in the race for the stool is Bassey Ekpo Bassey who was said to have been capped on a Sunday, shortly before the funeral of the immediate past Obong of Calabar late Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw. Vanguard gathered that an obong cannot be capped on a Sunday and before the final funeral of a dead obong.

-- www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8188&Itemid=43

Nigeria: Obong of Calabar Says Imoke Sponsors Militants, 5/12/08, Leadership

Leadership (Abuja)

12 May 2008
Posted to the web 12 May 2008

Philip Nyam

The Obong of Calabar, Obong Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, has accused Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State of sponsoring militants as the state has now become a safe haven for armed thugs. He also blamed the increasing cases of corruption in Nigeria on the irresponsibility of the government.

Obong, disclosed this at the weekend during a courtesy call to the Nigeria Labour Congress president, Comrade Abdulwaheed Ibrahim Omar. erased completely on the account of communal riot."

The royal father, who described corruption as anti-development, said government must fight corruption with all sense of responsibility and seriousness, adding, because of my crusade against corruption, Governor Imoke wants to dethrone me as Obong of Calabar."

"Let me commend you, NLC president, for your effort to ensure a corrupt-free nation because since you emerged as the president, you have mobilized two protests against corruption and this second one on Thursday has strengthened our visit because people who are taking action against us in Calabar today are engaging in corrupt activities. They are corrupting due process and laid down procedures that have survived for more than five centuries, so we thought that we should use this opportunity to also let you know that there is a move like that but the people of Calabar are standing firm against it."

According to him. "We think that you are right in rallying progressive forces all over the country to resist the rape of our country by few persons who are now holding it hostage. But I will like to contribute a thought on this entire matter that the process which corruption represents is enhanced by certain policies of government, in particular the idea of small indicative government which is now becoming not just an ideology, but, in fact, a religion."

The royal father noted, "Government has no business any more, as for education, health care delivery and the level of employment in the society is no more for government. As a matter of fact, we now have a situation where we can describe governance in Nigeria as no responsible governance, and this is the root of corruption.

"Our national income has never been nearly robust as it is today. I remember that there were times Abacha could not sell a barrel of oil for $10, now it is sold for $200. Nigeria is soaked with petro- dollars and poverty has never been this much, all because of corruption".

The one-time Cross River State chairman of NUJ said, "According to UNDP report, Obasanjo took over as president of Nigeria in 1999 with about 48.5% of Nigerians living below poverty line, but by 2001, the percentage has risen to 70%. Also in 2006 president of World Bank announced in an International conference that the percentage of Nigeria's living below the poverty line had climbed up to 75% in direct proportion to phenomenal increases in our national income. Nigeria has been falling into the depth of poverty. And I think that above the question of corruption, the aiding factor is the philosophy of non- responsible government, liberalisation of privatization, public sector disengagement and others."

The traditional ruler also said NLC must fight against corruption in the root, adding that Nigeria must return to an economic programme of nationalism that will allow government to assume the commanding height of the economy.

He lamented that Cross River has become a save haven for armed thugs in the region, adding that government in its attempt to dethrone him has failed as such move was against the tradition of the people.

"After my emergence as the Obong and taken to the shrine for the necessary tradition, government has attempted six times to take a different person to the same shrine. On this particular occasion the entire neighbourhood was invaded by the mobile police in Cross River State command, but it was null and void because there is no place in our tradition that says government must determine who is the Obong of Calabar and we see that the present government thinks otherwise.

"Since 1999, government has been producing and using militants against its opponents, including a chief magistrate who was slaughtered in the house. And also these militants in their spare time go to the Niger Delta, blow up oil pipelines, take hostages and when there is action to be taken to Cross River, they return to it. As I speak to you, there are communities in Cross River that have been

-- http://allafrica.com/stories/200805121283.html

Bassey Ekpo Bassey as Obong of Calabar, 5/11/08, Vanguard

Bassey Ekpo Bassey as Obong of Calabar 
Written by Ikeogu Oke 
Sunday, 11 May 2008 

THERE are not many such Basseys roundly loved by the Efik masses.

Traditional rulers should still command respect in contemporary Nigeria. Nor can I imagine a Nigeria in which they should not. I say this against the background of their having been described in some quarters as “anachronistic.” 

And I understand this rather uncharitable epithet to mean that the secular state, as derived from Western civilization, has succeeded more or less in relegating them to the background in its effort to control the political space and the attendant resources, together with the destinies of those who, as citizens, would have been subjects of some traditional ruler, perhaps an all-powerful sovereign, in earlier times.

And as I contemplate the controversy that has greeted the ascendency of Bassey Ekpo Bassey as Obong of Calabar, it strikes me that it may not be unconnected with the desire of those who wield political power to control traditional rulers. Nor am I unaware of the reason for such desire, since traditional rulers are a vital link to the grassroots, the socio-political “territory” of the masses, which such people also desire to control for reasons they are apt to associate with state security, though it may well be the security of their hold on power.

But the most important question should be whether a man ought to be crowned traditional ruler because he is acceptable to the generality of the people over whom he is to reign or because he is the favourite candidate of the powers that be, regardless of his popularity rating with the masses of his would-be subjects. 

I think the former should be the case – that a man should be crowned traditional ruler (more or less) as a function of his popularity with the masses of his would-be subjects. The benefits of this cannot be overemphasized, which includes the fact that if the powers that be should have such a traditional ruler on their side, then they can boast of having a reliable bridge to people at the grassroots for the duration of his reign. 

Nor can I see any reason why any government that professes a genuine interest in the welfare of people at the grassroots, like the government of Cross River State, should not seek to have any such traditional ruler on its side. I agree with the suggestion in a recent editorial of The Guardian titled: “The Obongship Dispute in Calabar,” that the government of Cross River State, in the interest of peace and security, may supervise the processes that lead to the emergence of the Obong of Calabar. But I do not think that, in order to be deemed acceptable, the processes must culminate in the crowning of a favourite candidate of the state government, in preference to one who may have a far higher popularity rating with the generality of the Efik people – who constitute the core subjects of the Obong of Calabar. 

Indeed, Bassey Ekpo Bassey is very popular with the Efik people. He is no less popular with non-Efik resident in Calabar, a group to which I belonged (for 15 years) until barely two years ago. However, he can be charismatic, cerebral, courageous and forthright in ways that can make the powers that be uncomfortable, especially when (as is often the case in our country) such powers would rather cultivate mediocre yes-men as allies and cronies to advance their selfish interests. 

But as Obong of Calabar, the Bassey Ekpo Bassey that I know is likely to continue to insist, as he had always done as an activist and politician of the progressive hue, that the powers that be give the common man his due and match their claim of grassroots development with action. And where such powers would rather not do so, then it should be expected that they would be fretting over what his reign as Obong might have in store for them. 

To my knowledge, Bassey Ekpo Bassey demonstrated his popularity with the masses as the head of the Agaba “people’s orchestra” which, with mere tins and sticks, could strike up a rhythmic and irresistible tune that pulled most residents of Calabar out of their homes and into the streets to dance and join the ever-swelling ranks of its marching band. Alas, the powers that be, in a crass betrayal of paranoia, banned the group and contrived in its place an elitist and expensive annual carnival, thereby denying the ordinary man of what was essentially a way of letting off steam that was entirely of his own creation. 

I would like to invite those who are opposed to the Obongship of Bassey Ekpo Bassey, in spite of their being aware of his antecedents as a progressive, to reflect on the following views expressed by Chief Rochas Okorocha in his lecture entitled: “The Role of Traditional Institutions in Shaping a Democratic Nigeria,” delivered recently at the American University of Nigeria: “In Nigeria, traditional institutions serve the interest of the common man, and this is beneficial to the development of our democratic system because power is a trust which can only be justified when used for the benefit of the common man. Power must be meant to save the lives of the numerous poor members of the society while protecting the interest of the few rich.”

Does it not follow, then, that unless a government truly “serves the interest of the common man” and would like to govern in ways that are “beneficial to the development of our democratic system”, it is not likely to feel comfortable with the emergence of a traditional ruler who, like Bassey Ekpo Bassey, is a champion of democratic values and people-oriented governance? 

I would also like to invite those opposed to the Obongship of Bassey Ekpo Bassey to justify their objection with concrete reasons. Does he lack intelligence or knowledge? Did he not have a track record of positive achievements before aspiring to the throne?

Is he deficient in experience or leadership qualities? Does he lack social connections that may stand the Obongship and the Efik people in good stead? Is he not acceptable to the greater majority of the Efik people and non-indigenes resident in Calabar? Did the majority of the members of the Etubom Council, the conclave of Efik kingmakers, not support his crowning, thereby lending democratic weight to that solemn ceremony? At over six-feet, and with a robust frame, does he not have a high and good enough head and stature to support the dignity of the Efik crown? 

And if the answer to each of these questions should be in his favour – and I think it should – why, then, must we not all agree that Bassey Ekpo Bassey as Obong of Calabar is an asset, and that, rather than subvert him, we should try to make the most of his merits while encouraging him to improve on the flaws he is entitled to have because he is human? 

The Obong of Calabar is the very embodiment of the traditional institutions of the Efiks. In him are vested powers whose majesty spans many generations, and whose essence is integrally cultural, political and, most importantly, sacred. To subject that time-honoured institution to the kind of intrigues that we have witnessed in recent times is an act of disrespect that borders on sacrilege. 

Mr. Oke writes from Lagos. 

www.guardiannewsngr.com/editorial_opinion/article04//indexn2_html?pdate=120508&
ptitle=Bassey%20Ekpo%20Bassey%20as%20Obong%20of%20Calabar

Bassey's faction rejects second crowning of new Obong, 5/5/05, Guardian, Nigeria

From Anietie Akpan, Calabar

The faction of Efik kingdom led by Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey has denounced last weekend's second crowning of Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the Obong of Calabar, saying "what they have done is null and void."

In a statement signed by Bassey, Chairman of the factional Etubom Traditional Council, Etubom Ayi Edem and two others, the council said: "There is only one Obong of Calabar, known to Efik Tradition and that Obong is His Majesty Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II."

They said: "This morning (Saturday), 5 a.m. the full compliment of the minority faction of Etubom, their families, thugs, friends and supporters, forced open the doors of the Efe Ekpe Eyo Ema, which houses the Efik kingship shrine and purportedly capped one Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu as Obong of Calabar."

According to them, this was the 6th attempt on the shrine, which has claimed life and property to the host community and "in funds to the tax payers of Cross River State and in the fifth attempt on May 2 the other factional group backed by the state government "invaded, killed and abducted at least 11 youths of the community who were guarding the Ekpe lodge. All we saw ex post facto were pools of blood and the young persons have remained unaccounted for till now."

Bassey expressed surprise that "complaints to the police, written and ad libitum, complete with relevant medical reports have resulted neither in investigations nor arrest of known assailants."

He continued: "We denounce this warfare, the capping of a second person as Obong of Calabar has no place or relevance in our tradition, our people have been traumatised and their blood shed for an exercise, which has no benefit for the reprobates who did it."

The faction maintained that the action on May 2, "reveals an uncanny partnership in Cross River State between private militias and the police because those militias are developed and nurtured with public funds and by the people in government.

"Countless complaints to the Nigerian state, regarding this matter, have been treated with contempt. Remember that the militants you are fighting today in the Niger Delta, were largely built the same way this is going," it stated

Expressing fears that Calabar may soon turn into another crisis prone area with killings and kidnappings, Bassey urged President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to intervene in the state and to assure us, Nigerian citizens of our right to protection by the state".

Bassey was on April 6, capped by a section of the Etuboms loyal to him but the state government declined to recognise him, saying he did not follow due process.

-- http://www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article20//indexn3_html?pdate=050508&ptitle=
Bassey's%20faction%20rejects%20second%20crowning%20of%20new%20Obong&cpdate=050508

New Obong of Calabar crowned amidst funfare, 5/5/08, The Tide

• Monday, May 5, 2008

Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V has formally been crowned in the Efik Shrine (Efe Asabo), as the substantive Obong of Calabar to succeed late Professor Nta Elijah Henshaw VI who reigned from 2001 through 2008, even as a young man was feared dead while several others are said to be wounded in the struggle for the throne.

Consequently, the age long myth in Calabar that no second person can be capped as the Obong of Calabar in the Kingship Shrine (Efe Asabo) during the life time of the first beneficiary was broken Saturday.

It would be recalled that Etubom (now Edidem) Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, a veteran journalist, was capped on the 6th of April, 2008, thereby becoming the first successor to the Obong of Calabar

With the native capping at the Efe Asabo done on Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V as the Obong of Calabar he has eventually became a successor to the throne because the first one that was done controversially on Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey on April 6th was wrongly done, informed traditionally sources said.

A colourful traditional procession followed, after the native capping at the Efe Asabo and the new Obong of Calabar who is the 51st on the throne was heralded and taken through some streets in Calabar town en-route to the official palace of the Obong of Calabar at 7 Effanga Ansa street where he was made to sit on the native stone.

Only the Obong sits on that stone (Itiat Ekpe) in the palace which is concluding formality for the traditional rites after the native capping in Efe Asabo. A gong sounded where informed persons that witnessed the enthronement, declared, “it is finished, it is done”.

High Chief Dr. Emmanuel Nsan who was among many prominent Efik sons and daughters that followed the procession and witnessed the enthronement of the new Obongs of Calabar told some newsmen that there have never been two Obong of Calabar at any point in time and that the confusion was created in the media by Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey who declared himself so and being a member of the media, he (Etubom Bassey) misdirected the media.

His words, we have only one Obong of Calabar whom you have just witnessed his enthronement and the native capping performed on him. What Bassey Ekpo did was not the proper thing and he went ahead to misinform the media. I think he should apologize to the media in this country for misdirecting them. For us, he is our son, we have forgiven him. We have not put curses on him, if he comes, we will receive him back. The palace doors are open”.

In a press statement issued to the press at the end of the occasion, signed by Chairman of Etubom Traditional Council Etubom Esien Ekpenyong, he said, the rites that as been successfully performed, reaffirmed that Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu, Western Calabar is now the Obong of Calabar, Treaty King, Natural Ruler and Grand Patriarch of Efik Eburutu.

According to him, by his selection and proclamation which followed the observance of the due process, His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V had become the 51st Obong of Calabar. It is worthwhile to mention that the Etuboms Council was resolute in its efforts in ensuring that peace and unity prevail in the Efik Nation.

Furthermore, the council was certain that the new Obong of Calabar would continue with the good works of his predecessor especially in areas such as the promotion of the usage of the Efik language and the incorporation of all the Efik principalities (Esen Efik Doupeba), he maintained. [Including the fake villages set up to embezzle state funds?]

Continuing, he said it was pertinent to mention that the funeral obsequies of the late Monarch would be concluded with a thanksgiving service that would take place at the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria Duke Town Parish, Calabar on a date to be announced by the Etuboms Council. Also, the date for the church coronation of His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, the Obong of Calabar would soon be made public. [More missionary activities against Efik culture.]

-- http://www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=05/05/2008&qrTitle=New%20Obong%20of%20Calabar%20crowned
%20amidst%20funfare&qrColumn=FRONT%20PAGE

Calabar Gets Second Obong In Two Months, 5/4/08, Guardian, Nigeria

From Anietie Akpan, Calabar

HISTORY is made in Calabar, following the capping of another Obong in Efe Asabo (Efik Kingship Shrine) amidst tight security. This has shattered the over 500-year-old tradition of the Efik Kingdom.

The Efik tradition holds that no other capping can be done at the shrine in the lifetime of an Obong. But at the early hours of yesterday, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu was capped - thus bringing to two the number of persons that had been capped at the respected shrine within one month.

On April 6, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey was capped by a section of the Etuboms (kingmakers). But the state government declined to recognise him, saying his selection did not follow due process.

The capping of Edidem Otu has, however, received government blessing, as massive police presence provided security at the shrine, palace and the streets of Calabar where processions were held.

The second capping was done despite a High Court suit instituted by the people of Mbiabo Ikoneto, challenging the suspicious exclusion of Etubom Anthony Ani by the factional Etubom Traditional Council led by Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok. 

The court had asked the parties to the case, including Edidem Otu, not to do anything on the Obongship until arguments raised by parties are heard on May 21.

The famous Creek Town accord of 1970 and the government White Paper allow rotation of the crown between Western and Central Calabar.

It is believed that the Obongship was to go to Ikoneto, but due to alleged manipulations by some kingmakers and the obvious interest of the state government, Ikoneto was deprived on grounds that it was not ready or had no qualified person.

This development has broken the long-standing myth around the Efe Asabo, but many people said certainly, "the gods will soon visit anyone that has committed sacrilege on the shrine and the Efik throne."

A release by Etubom EFiok, chairman of the factional Etubom Traditional Council, said all traditional rites had been done and "those rites affirmed that Edidem Otu V... is now the Obong of Calabar, Treaty King, Natural Ruler and Grand patriarch of the Efik Eburutu."

He expressed the hope that the new Obong "will continue to foster peace, work in close collaboration with the Quas and the Efut people and will continue to liaise with all traditions in the state to ensure that the hopes and aspirations of our people are realised."

The rival Obong, Edidem Bassey, has, however, condemned the action, saying, "it is of no consequence and has no effect and should be treated with disregard."

Crisis of succession has trailed the throne since the demise of Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw. Last week, one person was killed and nine others declared missing when an attempt by one of the factional groups to enter the palace failed.

-- http://www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article02//indexn3_html?pdate=040508&ptitle=Calabar%20Gets%20Second%20Obong%20
In%20Two%20Months%20&cpdate=040508

Another Obong capped,  5/4/08, Vanguard

Written by John Ighodaro Calabar 
Sunday, 04 May 2008
 
As Calabar chieftaincy tussle deepens

A 500-YEAR old tradition was yesterday in Calabar, Cross River State cast aside when the factional Etuboms Council of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar capped another Obong at the Efik shrine with the title, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V. A faction of the Etuboms Council had on April 6 capped Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey as the Obong of Calabar with the title, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey 11. The tussle for the Obong of Calabar which had been brewing since the demise of late Edidem Nta Henshaw blew into the open with the capping of Bassey as the Edidem.

Ever since, there have been several attempts by the supporters of Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu to crown him but had met with resistance. Yesterday’s attempt was the fifth and they finally gained entry into the Efik shrine and capped him as Obong. It was a special day in Calabar because, for the first time in Efik history, two men are claiming to be the Obong of Calabar.

After the capping of Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, the factional Etuboms Council issued a release which read in part: “You will recall that the Etuboms Council had in an earlier press release intimated the public that the council had selected Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the Obong-elect. His selection by the Etuboms Conclave on March 31, 2008 and proclamation on April 8, 2008 by the Etuboms Council followed the persistent nature of the traditional sickness of the former monarch, Edidem (Prof.) Nta Elijah Henshaw VI which necessitated the commencement of certain traditional rites on April 28, 2008 in the hope that the sickness will be cured. Unfortunately, our Mornarch Edidem (Prof.) Nta Elijah Henshaw VI transited to eternal glory. 

“In addition, those rites reaffirmed that Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Out, Western Calabar is now the Obong of Calabar, Treaty King, Natural Ruler and Grand Patriarch of Efik Eburutu. By his selection and proclamation which followed the observance of the due process, His Eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V has become the fifty-first Obong of Calabar. It is worthwhile to mention that the Etuboms Council is resolute in its efforts in ensuring that peace and unity prevail in the Efik Nation. Furthermore, the Council is certain that the new Obong of Calabar will continue with the good works of his predecessor especially in areas such as the promotion of the usage of the Efik language and the incorporation of all the Efik principalities (Essien Efik Duopeba).” 

The release was signed by Etubom Esien Ekpenyong Efik. When contacted, Bassey, who was earlier capped Obong by some chiefs in Calabar, said that “second capping is of no effect.” Except for the clash that occurred between supporters of the two factions on Friday, Calabar has remained calm after the second capping. Earlier in the week the Cross River State government broke its silence over the Obong tussle, warning those involved to respect law and order. In a statement signed by the governor, Liyel Imoke, government warned: “Contending parties are warned to maintain law and order in the pursuit of their interest and conduct themselves with decorum and dignity. Government will not hesitate to deal decisively with any person found to have breached the peace or conspiring to do same.” 

-- http://www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7729&Itemid=42

Obong tears Calabar apart, 5/3/08, Vanguard

Written by George Onah 
[Onah has close family ties to the Cross River State Government, 
which supported the second Obong caping with military force.]
Saturday, 03 May 2008 

All is not well with Calabar the capital of Cross River State . Trouble looms because of the crowning of an Obong of Calabar.

Calabar is known for its cleanliness and fledging symbol of tourism. But tourism does not thrive in a haven of violence. Calabar is gradually slipping into what may become a prolonged battle field because of the interests groups in the ongoing struggle to cap another paramount ruler of the Efiks who is addressed as the Obong of Calabar. The trouble stems from the fact that due process has allegedly been ignored as well as a flagrant disobedience to the laid down rotation policy in the capping of a new Obong. 

To every game, there is a rule but the rule in this particular game has been grossly thrown to the winds. There are antecedents and succession plan as well as an age-long process in selecting an Obong. The bone of contention is that while Bassey Ekpo Bassey has been crowned as the Obong of Calabar, the Etuboms-in-Council insists that Bassey was not their choice but that there is an Obong-elect called Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V. from Adiabo in Western Calabar.

For the record, there are three major tribes in Calabar: Efik, Efut and Qua. The leader of the Quas is called Edidem of the Quas and that of the Efuts is addressed as the Murimunene, Ebukaebuka and leader of the Efik goes by the title of Obong of Calabar. Although all the leaders are paramount rulers of their tribes, the Obong of Calabar is rarely ever addressed as paramount ruler of Efiks. Sometime in 2004, the then governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke, attempted to change the nomenclature of the Obong of Calabar to simply paramount ruler of Efiks.

The press statement to that effect was signed by special assistant to Duke on chieftaincy matters, Mr. Odo Emmanuel Odo. But, Duke changed his mind when he got security reports of the “gathering storm” of violence. He sent his second-in-command, Elder Walter Eneji, to go personally to the residence of the then Obong Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw, now deceased, to apologise for the “mistake”. It simply explains that the throne or office of the Obong is revered in Calabar and among proper Efiks world-wide.

In the beginning, Duke was not comfortable with the installation of Henshaw as Obong of Calabar because of the way he emerged. The man was crowned in a controversial manner because it was alleged that it did not follow due process. So angry was Duke over the installation that he rejected Henshaw as Obong and charged him to court for impersonation and in fact threw him into Calabar jail. However, when tempers simmered, the man was offered an official staff of office by Duke and Henshaw reigned as Obong till he passed on.

In fact, the practice of rotation of the throne is traceable to the government of South Eastern State (now Cross River) headed by Brig-Gen. U. J. Esuene, when it issued a White Paper on the crowning of the Obong of Calabar. Specifically, the crown was to rotate between central and western Calabar. 

The policy was followed till the demise of former Obong Ene Mkpang Cobham who was from central Calabar (Obutong community). Naturally, it was expected that the next Obong would emerge from western Calabar. But it was not to be. Rather, Henshaw, who was from central Calabar (Henshaw Town, Calabar South) was crowned as Obong, negating the laid down policy of rotation. It is of note that Henshaw was hurriedly crowned by Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey when in fact it was the turn of western Calabar.

It was one reason for Duke’s grief; another was because Henshaw made a contentious statement, verbally ceding Bakassi to Akwa Ibom State before the World Court judgment. Again when Henshaw changed planet, another man from James Town, now in Akwa Ibom State, had chosen to make an issue out of the Obongship. When journalists asked Bassey Ekpo Bassey in the heat of the controversy surrounding the crowning of Henshaw in August 1999, he said, “The Obong’s crown has always been snatched, this one has been snatched.” The feat of snatching the Obong’s crown was to be re-enacted about nine years later, in March 2008, this time by Bassey Ekpo Bassey himself.

Interestingly, Bassey Ekpo Bassey, it was, who attempted to dethrone Henshaw in February 2004, shortly after he, (Bassey), was de-robed for allegedly beating up a fellow Etubom in the palace of the king of the Efiks. In a press conference at the instance of Henshaw in his palace on February 25, 2004, the Obong traced the harassment to “the recent expulsion and derecognition of Chief Bassey Ekpo Bassey on account of an offence committed in the palace.

Would you believe that an Etubom of the standing of Bassey Ekpo Bassey (allegedly) slapped a fellow Etubom Mkpang Boco Cobham and kicked him to the ground as well as attempted to strangulate him right in the presence of the Obong of Calabar and right in the palace of the Obong?” In the press statement read at the conference by chairman of Etuboms-in-Council, Etubom Okon Ekpenyong John Eyamba, the Efik monarch also said: “This type of behaviour clearly desecrates the palace and the royalty of an Efik monarch and it betrays completely the gentle and civilised life style of the Efik race. It is alien to the Efik Kingdom for a respected kingmaker to throw respects to the winds and behave that way.”

After that incident, when Bassey was asked how it happened, he said, “If I had killed him I would have claimed provocation.”

At the conference and still speaking on the plan to chase him out of office, Henshaw said, “The attempt to dethrone the Obong could only exist in the imagination of such people and could not be actualized. It is impossible to dethrone an Obong because there is no history of the dethronement of an Obong in Efik Kingdom. assey Ekpo Bassey is not even from Cross River State but James Town (now Ibaka) in Mbo Local Government of Akwa Ibom State. He is merely tolerated in the palace because he is an Efik in diaspora and it is ridiculous for a man from Akwa Ibom State, whose ruling house (James Town) no longer exists either in Cross River or Akwa Ibom States. For the people who signed the ‘dethronement’ statement, they are neither Etuboms nor recognized chiefs and they all claimed to belong to Cobham Town. It is unheard of for a single ruling house out of 30 ruling houses to want to remove an Obong.”

Henshaw recalled an incident in “1926 when one Etubom Edem Adam Ephraim crowned himself Obong around Elder Demster Shipping Company area of the Marine Beach in Calabar. The self-crowned Obong was even then not dethroned but merely avoided by the other Etuboms-in-Council and, when he died, he was given all the full burial rites of an Obong.” This aspect of the press statement is the crux of this write-up, which is that “a self-crowned Obong cannot be dethroned”.

So, if Bassey Ekpo Bassey has crowned himself, he should be allowed to stay until God decides. It has already been stated that a crowned Obong cannot be removed, so why are people singing in the rain. It simply implies that once an existing Obong kicks the bucket, the first man to race to Efe Asabo becomes the new king. It follows then that because Bassey was the first man to do a Ben Johnson to the shrine and got the crown. However, his emergence as Obong of Calabar should not be used to create disturbance in good-old-peaceful Calabar. 

The Efiks should remember that Calabar also belongs to non-Calabarians, especially since it is the seat of government for the whole state that is made up of Yala, Boki, Obudu, Obanliku, Bekwarra, Ejagam, Ugep, Biase, Itigidi, Qua, Efut, and others. Also, such residents as Ibibio, Anang, Oron and of course Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa investors as well as foreigners doing business there do have the right to their peace. It is up to the Efiks to allow an Ibibio man to be their Obong but the process of installing an Obong-elect should not turn Calabar to jagajaga.

Two days ago, a respected High Chief of Efik Kingdom phoned this writer, saying that Bassey Ekpo Bassey was a creation of the press in Calabar and not crowned by the Efiks. When he was now asked whether Efe Asabo (Efik Kingship Shrine), where Bassey was crowned, was also a creation of the press, the conversation entered “voice mail” immediately. Methinks that there is a solution to the problem and that is by dividing the rulership of the Efik Kingdom into two distinct sides such as ‘Obong of western Calabar ‘ and ‘Obong of central Calabar’. 

After all, it was Esuene who neutralized the powers of the Obong of Calabar by shoring up the offices of the Edidem of the Quas and Murimunene of the Efuts. So, if the western Calabar people are feeling cheated in the succession bid they could create their own Obong, considering the fact that Creek Town and Ikoneto (western Calabar) are the ancestral homes of the Efiks. Efe Asabo is a creation of man, so, another one could be built and the deities invoked. 

It is only the Holy Bible and the Holy Koran that cannot be altered but everything in creation can be changed for the sake of peace. It on record too that an Efik son (Mr. Donald Duke) changed the fortune of Calabar but let not an Efik-induced trouble reverse the fortune. In this wise, we want to say ‘what Efik Duke has put together let no Efik Obong put asunder’.

-- http://www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7721&Itemid=0

Tussle over Obong of Calabar claims lives, 5/3/08, Vanguard

Written by John Ighodaro 
Saturday, 03 May 2008 

CALABAR — The tussle for the Obong of Calabar Friday finally claimed a life with several persons injured when armed thugs in the early hours of yesterday, again, invaded Cobham Town in Calabar South Local Government Area of the state, the immediate community of the capped Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II.

According to Saturday Vanguard sources, the armed thugs invaded the community at about 4.00 am and at the time they left the area one person lay dead, several injured and nine persons missing.

There are fears that those missing may have been kidnapped by the thugs who were also said to have carried away the corpse of the deceased whose identity could not be immediately ascertained.

This attack is coming on the heels of strident warnings issued by the State Governor; Mr. Liyel Imoke that government will not tolerate any form of violence as interest groups battle for the Efik throne.

Imoke had noted in a public announcement: “Contending parties are warned to maintain law and other in the pursuit of their interest and conduct themselves with decorum and dignity. Government will not hesitate to deal decisively with any person found to have breached the peace or conspiring to do same.”

Yesterday’s attack on the community was the fifth attempt to forcefully cap Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu at the Efik shrine.

At Cobham Town yesterday after the attack, people were seen gathering in clusters and discussing in hushed tones.

Eye witness account had it that during the attack, one of the Efik shrine guards was killed by the thugs who were armed with dangerous weapons. The thugs allegedly carried the corpse of the deceased away when the disturbances at the shrine had alerted other members of the community, who had mobilized to fight back.

Meanwhile, a detachment of mobile policemen in a pick_up van had had been deployed to the area.
Members of the Etuboms Traditional Council and the capped Obong’s Cabinet have reported the matter to the Zone Six Commands of the Nigeria Police.

The prime minister of the Cabinet Etubom Nya Asuquo led some kingmakers Friday morning to lodge a petition with the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Zone Six petition over the attack on the community and the subsequent loss of life.

Asuquo called on relevant authorities to apprehend the mastermind of the invasion of the community, investigate them and bring them to book for resorting to violence and attacking those he described as peaceful and law abiding members of the society. 

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state police command, Thomas Adama Okpene (DSP) said the state police command has not been briefed of any such incident. 

-- http://www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7714&Itemid=42

Obong Crisis: One Killed, Nine Missing in Bloody Clash, 5/3/08, This Day

From Ernest Chinwo in Calabar, 05.03.2008

Fears that the crisis rocking the Efik kingdom over the throne of the Obong of Calabar would lead to a bloodbath became real early Friday morning as one person was killed and nine persons declared missing, while several others were injured, in a bloody clash at Cobham Town. 

There had been fears that the insistence of a faction of the Etuboms Traditional Council backed by top officers of the Cross River State government opposed to the capping of Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II as the Obong of Calabar to have access to the kingship shrine, Efe Asabo, to carry out a second installation would lead to bloodshed. 

The factional group led by Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok in the early hours of Thursday made their fourth attempt to cap Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu at the Efe Asabo but was repelled by youths of Ikot Etonko (Cobham Town) community. 

The people of Cobham Town, custodians of the shrine, had vowed to resist any attempt to hold a second capping of an Obong in the lifetime of one already capped, describing the insistence of the factional group to cap Etubom Otu as “an act of sacrilege and provocation which we are going to resist.” 

The group, THISDAY gathered, made their fifth attempt at about 4.30 am on Friday backed by some thugs who invaded the community in a bid to have access to the shrine. 

Acting chairman of the Cobham Town Combined Council, Etubom Ekpo Eyo said one male member of the community was killed by the assailants while nine others were missing and several others injured in the Friday attack. He said the assailants also carried away the body of the dead man in a pick-up van to conceal evidence of what they had done. Eyo said that despite the attack, the invaders could not gain access to the shrine.

When THISDAY visited the community, blood stains were seen all over the place, while members of the community were in groups discussing the incident in low tones. 

Most of the people were also apprehensive of talking to unknown persons for fear of giving out information to security agencies, who they allege, are giving cover to the assailants. 

Worried by the development, the chairman of the other faction of Etubom Traditional Council, Etubom (Dr.) Nya Asuquo petitioned the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Zone 6, Calabar, alleging Police complicity in the attacks on the community. He said "the minority faction, operating from the offices of the Obong of Calabar at No. 7 Effanga Ansa St. Calabar South, organized a procession of armed thugs, heavily guarded by the police, that swept through Boco St. , where the Efe Ekpe Eyo Ema, their Ekpe Lodge which houses the Kingship Shrine, is located." 

He said the thugs were led by a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police in the State, who had records of extra-judicial killings and mass graves whole in service. He called for the intervention of the Zone to avert further bloodbath in the community as the community "will not render itself a sitting target for armed thugs anymore." 

The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Thomas Adama Okpene however said he was not aware of the Cobham Town incident. 

He said in a telephone interview that he attended a security meeting Friday morning and that officer covering the Cobham Town area was in attendance but did not report any such incident. 

-- http://www.thisdayonline.com/nview.php?id=110381

Youths repel attempt to instal another Obong, 5/2/08, Vanguard

Written by John Ighodaro 
Friday, 02 May 2008 

Expectations that the Obong tussle in Calabar may have been put to rest were shattered yesterday when attempts by a factional Etubom Traditional Council led by Etubom Essien Efiok to cap Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu at the Efik shrine were repelled by youths. 

Yesterday’s attempt was the 4th by this factional Etubom Council to instal Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu and the move was resisted by the youths at about 9.45am at Ikorentonko (Cobham Town) in Old Calabar. 

This has created tension in the city and has raised fears that if urgent steps are not taken to check the development, it might lead to unprecedented violence. 

The move by the factional Etubom Council is particularly crises prone because it amounts to a second capping at the Efik shrine and a second capping is something that has never happened in the Efik kingdom in 500 years. 

It will be recalled that Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey Ekpo was capped the Obong of Calabar at the Efik shrine on the 6th of April, 2008 following the demise of late Obong of Calabar, Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw VI. 

The Cobham town community in old Calabar are viewing the attempt by the rival group to invade their community and forcefully install Etubom Otu as Obong as provocation in view of the fact that someone else had been capped there on the 6th of April this year. 
Earlier attempts by the same group to instal Etubom Otu had always met with resistance but the factional Etubom Traditional Council seem resolved to continue to try as they did yesterday. 
In one of the earlier attempts on April 21, several persons were injured in the process.

Reacting to the attach, the Cobham Town Combined Council petitioned the State Commissioner of Police protesting the attack of the Community and accusing the State joint security outfit, Operation Mesa of having connived with the invading forces.

In the petition signed by the acting chairman of the Council, Etubom Ekpo Eyo and titled ‘Attack on Cobham Town Community: Mayhem’, they said, “we are aware that the armed garrison of thugs, protected by the Police is kept by the Deputy Governor of Cross River State and we hold him personally responsible for the attack on Cobham Town.”

They demanded adequate compensation and restitution “because the invasion and traumatization of Cobham Town was ordered by government.”

In his own reaction, the capped Obong of Calabar, Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, said, “I have been informed that under the protection of the Police and the Military, some thugs who were also obviously under official Government protection went into Cobham Town and brutalized the people, broke down doors, machete several members of the community and generally traumatized them. 

We are going to ask for investigation and insist that all the persons involved, starting from the members of government who sent them to those who actually carried out the mayhem be brought to book.

“It is certainly an act of sacrilege on the shrine. I am informed that the juju pot they brought to the place fell and broke into pieces, spilling the content. That in itself is quite significant. We are going to ask the Federal Government to assure us as a community that we are entitled to protection under the Nigerian law. Let me tell you, this is not going to pass off as Odi did. We shall fight it to a decision.

“We are going to bring our case to the Federal Government of Nigeria and ask whether it is proper to use federal agencies to so traumatize the people”.

Continuing, he said, “by the Constitution of Nigeria, both the Police and the military are under the command and control of the President. I do not believe that the President of Nigeria is conniving with what is going on.”

It will be recalled that the factional group led by the Chairman of the Etubom Traditional Council Etubom Essien Ekpenyong Efiok in a Press Conference in Calabar on April 8, alleged that “in the early hours of Sunday, April 6, 2008 , the said Bassey Ekpo Bassey in company of some miscreants forcefully broke into the Efe Asabo shrine and purportedly claimed to assume the status”.

He announced that “the Etuboms’ conclave which is charged with the responsibility of selecting and installation of the Obong of Calabar had met on Monday, 31st March, 2008 and duly selected His Royal Highness, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the Obong of Calabar following he traditional illness of the late Obong, His Eminence Edidem Henshaw VI”.

He assured that, “the conclave shall announce the dates for the various traditional rites soon. In view of the foregoing circumstances, the Etubom’s Council hereby appeals to all well meaning Efik sons and daughters to remain calm and pursue their normal legitimate duties while everything is being done to ensure the smooth coronation of the new Obong in line with Efik tradition”.

The Cross River State Government earlier in the week broke its silence over the Obongship tussle warning those involved to respect law and order.

In a statement signed by the state Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, government warned the factions.

According to Imoke, “Contending parties are warned to maintain law and other in the pursuit of their interest and conduct themselves with decorum and dignity. Government will not hesitate to deal decisively with any person found to have breached the peace or conspiring to do same”.

Continuing, he said, “apart from the claims and counter claims which have continued unabated, perhaps the ugliest and most unedifying development in the entire episode is the resort by interested parties to take the laws into their own hands. Consequently names of Obong-elect have been freely mentioned in various media to the disenchantment of the public”.

Governor Imoke observed that “the ensuing confusion now threatens to dislocate the peace and harmony that the ancient city of Calabar in particular, and indeed, the entire state has known for years and that is what we cannot accept, and no responsible government will”.

Insisting on the need for due process even in the crowning of an Obong, he said,“we all know that traditionally, there is also due process in the selection of a new Obong of Calabar whenever it becomes necessary to do so.

“All contending persons are well advised to follow due process and abide by laid down rules that guide the succession process. Contenders are also well advised to take due cognizance of the various white papers on this matter and to comply with the provisions of such white papers as well as the traditional institutions’ practices and antecedents”.

He added that “all law enforcement agencies have been directed to be vigilant and alert” and “we do not expect any further degeneration of the situation.”

-- http://www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7653&Itemid=44

Editorial: The Obong of Calabar controversy, 5/2/08, Nigerian Tribune

The controversy surrounding the Obong of Calabar stool has brought into sharper focus some of the unresolved issues that have bedevilled the process involved in the selection of candidates into this ancient office over the years. This time, the issues revolve around the ascension of Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey to the position of the paramount rulership of the Efik, following the passing on of the last Obong, Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw VI, on February 16. 

TO be sure, the current disagreement over the Obong stool follows a typical pattern that keen followers of the Obong succession politics, not the least of whom are the Efik themselves, must be used to. The difference this time round is that players involved ought to have learned from the past and should have been better positioned to handle the matter with more maturity. This is to say that the disagreement would have been needless and wholly avoidable but for the exclusivist policy of the Etuboms Traditional Council or an influential section of it. 

WHILE the action of this group that purportedly has control of the palace might seem correct on the surface — in that its favoured candidate is from Western Calabar in accordance with the rotating principle of the Creek Town Accord of 1970 and outcome of a 2002 government Whitepaper that gave the position to Western Calabar— the lack of transparency that led to the rejection of not just the favoured candidate of the Mbiabo-Ikoneto people and subsequent exclusion of, at least, seven ruling houses and many members of the Etuboms Traditional Council in the selection process created the stalemate that led to the current controversy. Failure to resolve this stalemate in time and to the satisfaction of the Efik people, it was said, motivated a section of the excluded group to sponsor Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey as a consensus candidate that could help bring peace to the troubled stool. There are strong indications that the majority of the Efik people are satisfied with the emergence of the current Obong, Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, who was traditionally crowned in the Efe Asabo on the 6th of April. 

ONE of the strongest factors that had apparently worked in favour of Etubom Bassey is the traditional norm that says that once an Obong has been crowned no other person can undergo the same process while the crowned Obong is still alive and well. In other words, it would be greatly sacrilegious and, to that extent, provocative to the Efik to crown another person while there is a sitting Obong. This was the case in 1999 when, despite an order by the Donald Duke government purportedly dethroning Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw VI over violation of the rotating principle of the Obong stool, the said Obong remained in office until his demise last February. 

THE Duke government, certainly, realised the strong traditional principle undergirding the selection of an Obong as one that cannot be repeated twice in the same circumstance. Another factor in favour of Etubom Bassey relates to what seems like his solid grassroots appeal which might be the outcome of his populist stance as a well-known political and labour leader of several decades. What is more, the fact that his being crowned in the Efe Asabo in broad daylight, under the watchful eye of the police guarding the shrine and the local population surrounding it, points to his relative acceptance among the people who have the traditional role of keeping unauthorised persons away from the ancient shrine. The above factors have, apparently, translated into the relative peace that has marked the ascension of Etubom Bassey to the position of Obong. An attempt was made six days before Etubom Bassey was crowned to install the candidate of the palace faction of the Etuboms Traditional Council but the attempt was foiled. According to reports, the police guards and other custodians of the shrine had put up strong resistance and foiled the attempt. 

IT is obvious that the Efik have voted for peace. In this wise, it is important that all concerned in this sensitive matter read the writing on the wall correctly by allowing the wish of the people to prevail. 

ON his part, Etubom Bassey would do well by extending a fatherly hand of fellowship to every son and daughter of Efikland. His is a call to duty, which can only be accomplished with the involvement of all stakeholders in the well-being of the Efik. This is no time for grandstanding or the issuance of inflammatory statements that can only serve to aggravate frayed nerves. The task ahead is both onerous and grave. 

THE Government of Cross Rivers State and the new Obong must work together to ensure that the peace is maintained in the city of Calabar. That way, the status of Calabar as the number one tourist destination in Nigeria will not be compromised.

-- http://www.tribune.com.ng/02052008/edit.html

Obongship tussle: CRSG reads riot act to contenders, 4/30/08, The Tide, Nigeria

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

Stunned by attempts by some Kingmakers in the Efik Kingdom to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens in Cross River State, the government has warned that it would not hesitate to deal with such persons.

Besides, even some Efik persons are now accusing the state government of dabbling into an area specifically meant for the traditional institution.

A statement signed by the Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke said the confusion arising from the Obongship tussle, was now threatening to dislocate the peace and harmony that the state and Calabar in particular had been known for years.

Imoke warned contending parties to maintain law and order in the pursuit of their interests and conduct themselves with decorum and dignity as government would not hesitate to deal decisively with any person found to have breached the peace or conspiring to do so.

“The Cross River State Government believes in due process and the rule of law.We all know that traditionally, there is also due process in the selection of a new Obong of Calabar whenever it becomes necessary to do so. All contending persons are well advised to follow due process and abide by laid down rules that guide the succession process,” Imoke warned.

The governor also advised contenders to the throne to take cognizance of the various white papers on the Obongship tussles and to comply with the provisions of such white papers as well as the traditional institutions practices and antecedents.

It will however be recalled that some of the contenders to the throne had been accusing some highly place government functionaries of allegedly sponsoring one of the contenders to the throne.

The Cobham Town people in Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River State had blamed the state Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham over the night attack on the community on Monday, 21st April 2008 by thugs who were allegedly given cover by members of the State Joint Military Patrol; Operation Messa.

They had alleged that the deputy governor was personally responsible for the attack of Cobham Town by the thugs who inflicted injuries on many people and destroyed valuables worth thousands of naira in the place which is the community of the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II.

But the Deputy Governor denied the allegation saying he could not be involved in such act which he described as satanic.

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Effiong Okon, the deputy governor said he could not be spending funds to maintain the peace and at the same time spend money to cause trouble.

Already, the people of the community, through their umbrella organization, the Cobham Town Combined Council have petitioned the state commissioner of police on the issue.

Copies of the petition tagged Attack on Cobham Town Community; Mayhem, signed by the Acting Chairman Cobham Town Combined Council, His Royal Highness (HRH),Etubom Ekpo Eyo have also been sent to the Chairman Etuboms Traditional Council; the Assistant Inspector General(AIG) Zone 6; and the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

-- www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=04/30/2008&qrTitle=Obongship%20tussle:%20CRSG%20reads
%20riot%20act%20to%20contenders&qrColumn=FRONT%20PAGE

‘Tradition, not government determines Obong’s ascension’ 4/28/08, Nigerian Tribune

Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, Obong of CalabarHistory has shown that after protracted disputes, only the one who was capped at Efe Asabo (Python Shrine) became the new Obong of Calabar, the revered throne in Cross River State. His Majesty, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, was recently capped at the Efe Asabo. In this chat with journalists, he spoke on the succession dispute and other issues. Gill Nsa-Abasi was there.

As the crowned king of Efik people, where is your palace?

Traditionally, Efik people do not have a fixed palace. When there is a king, he either builds himself a palace or his place of ordinary residence becomes his palace. And the principality in which he lives; in which the palace is situated is then called King’s town, “Obio Ubong” in Efik. When the king dies and another one is selected and installed, where he lives becomes the palace and his principality becomes the king’s town. That is our tradition.

The idea of one standard palace or a fixed palace for the Efik people is a new thing; it is not traditional. It started in the 1970s and we are talking about a throne which is about five centuries old. We have reached an agreement that there should be a central and fixed palace, but we are yet to build it. What we have at No. 7 Effanga Ansa, is merely an office; we allow it to masquerade as palace. But a palace is a very elaborate thing as you all know; the king and other palace staff members live there just as so many other people do too. There are other departments as well. You do not call that level of property a palace; it is not a palace properly so called. Why is it that the majority of the Etuboms are not in that palace?

In 2004, there was a crisis. The verge of that crisis is that there are people who within the palace moved to stop the practice whereby government paid money, every month, to people who had a list of fake villages and clans. It is because some people who were sitting in the palace complained to government that so many villages for which they were paying money did not exist. It is also because there was a clan and village verification panel set up during the administration of former Governor Donald Duke. A number of Etuboms had supported the idea; unfortunately, His Eminence, Nta Elijah Henshaw, looked unbridled at the development. That led to a minor scuffle and later to the exclusion of Etuboms who were not part of that scam. 

Nigeria must not reward such fraud by allowing those people to now exclusively select an Obong and continue with what they have been doing. 13 of them selected that fellow, 21 selected me. Now they have reconciled with some of the people who had also aspired and whom they roughly threw out and are now 18. 


How many people are in the Council of Etuboms?
32


Can another Obong be capped in the same shrine while you are alive? What will be the consequences of such an action?

Second capping has never happened, but controversies have always occured. In 1970, there was a controversy regarding the kingship, but David Henshaw was the one who was crowned at the Efe Asabo (Python Shrine) and the Udoh Commission instituted by government upheld his kingship for that reason. Before 1970, there was an even bigger disagreement in 1964. Edidem Edem E. E. Adam was the one who was crowned at Efe Asabo and others disputed it. The Hart Commission of Enquiry instituted by the Government of Eastern Nigeria has a report which is considered one of the most important source documents for Efik history. The Commission upheld the kingship of Edem E. E. Adam.

In 1999, there was another round of controversies when we took Professor Henshaw to the shrine and crowned him. There was the Eyamba Idem Commission of Enquiry and series of interventionary acts by the Cross River State Government. Professor Henshaw eventually remained king because the only way they could prevent him from staying as king was to kill him. I hope that those who have said that they do not recognise my being crowned at Efe Asabo are not planning to kill me.


The claim is that those who performed the crowning on you broke into the Python Shrine, is this true?

You agree you were not there. These people broke into the place and acted surreptitiously. Then, you say that the materials used were not complete, how did you know if you were not there? Besides, how can you break into a place that many policemen guarded? Do you think even members of the community will keep quiet? 


How will the funeral obsequies of your predecessor be handled?

They keep throwing this matter of funeral obsequies. Who in Nigeria did not know that Professor Nta Elijah Henshaw said he was born-again and anti-tradition? He returned his Ekpe (Lion) to the Henshaw Town Council Lodge. As far as the tradition is concerned, he died at that point. The Efik king sits on Ekpe; that is the authority of the kingship. That is why when the king dies, the Ekpe escapes into the forest. And you have to bring it back before another king can effectively sit on the throne. So, at the point he returned the Ekpe, constructively, he died. There is nothing to mourn now because all those traditional funeral obsequies are Ekpe-based. I have nothing but pity for them. They aspire to kingship, they want to be part of it, they want to dominate, but they do not take time to study and understand it. They do not understand the Obong kingship. We tolerate their being in the palace because we do not wish to give anybody an excuse to clamp-down on this situation and say there was violence. But remember that we have not yet built a palace; this is the palace now. 


What are the consequences of a second capping?

The consequences of the second capping are not open to you. In James Town, one of my great grand fathers had an Ekpe Stone there; this is what gives you an authority to establish an Ekpe Lodge. The Ibaka people invaded that village and uprooted the stone; 18 of them were involved. After only two months, they all died. So, these consequences are not things you can publicly say or argue. Sometimes, you go and take a step in this traditional matter and your family members may start dropping off one after the other. These are not quantifiable consequences. But people should learn to take these things more seriously than they currently do. 

Again, crowning at Efe Asabo will not make anybody Obong of Calabar; it is the first and only crowning that makes you Obong of Calabar; it is not a matter for government appointment. You can appoint commissioners, board members, but you cannot appoint the Obong of Calabar. Under the law of Cross River State, it proceeds according to tradition and this is the tradition.

You were said to have been expelled from the Obong’s Palace and stripped of your privileges and powers as an Etubom. How would you react to this?

I have already explained what happened in 2004. If they say that I was expelled by the Etubom’s Council, ask them about the processes, because there is a constitution and I have a copy. If the Council of Etubom is going to expel somebody, it will set-up a disciplinary committee. The committee will hear the sides of those involved, reach a decision and take it to the Council. Then, the council will make a pronouncement. Ask them for any of those processes and you will not find it. You cannot be collecting money as village and clan heads for clans and villages that do not exist. Then, professor wrote to me, telling me “do not come here again”; I won’t go there because I do not want a fight. I am a peace loving person but the Council did not remove me. If they remove me, they will be able to show you minutes, even of the per-functionary discussion. I am the one who crowned professor; I could take the crown back from him. Etubom Ekpo Eyo crowned me, if he says he wants to remove the crown, he has a better case than somebody who did not crown me.

-- http://www.tribune.com.ng/28042008/s_south_intv.html

Ekpo is not Obong of Calabar - Efik youths, 4/27/08, Sunday Tribune

Gill, Nsa-Abasi, Calabar - 27.04.2008

A socio-cultural group for youths in Efik land , Esop Ndito Ison Efik, has declared that Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey, who was on April 6 declared as the new Obong of Calabar in controversial circumstances , is not the Obong of Calabar.

In an chat with Sunday Tribune after a press conference, the President of the group, Mr. Peter Duke,claimed he had facts and details to prove that what Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey did on that Sunday was ”laughable, wrong and can not stand”.

“The choice and emergence of Obong of Calabar is the prerogative of Mme Etubom who conducts election to elect one among them.”

“Those eligible to vote and be voted for are only Etuboms who have been inducted and capped by Obong in Council. They followed this due process on April 31st and elected one amongst them, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the Obong of Calabar-elect.”

“We call on Etubom Council to carry out the full traditional ceremony surrounding the transition of an Obong and assure them of the support of every true son and daughter. We are ready to defend our heritage against the current crisis being exhibited by elders and call on the media to disregard any purported claim by any other person claiming to be Obong of Calabar,” he added.

And A Comrade Takes The Throne, 4/25/08, Leadership Nigeria

By John Akpan 

We should, perhaps lead this piece with what the new Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, told The Guardian of March 6, 2008 - that "my life is nothing if it does not contribute to the fight, by some members of the human society, to make the world a better place".

I know this of him to be true, having associated with him over the decades, in the profession, (journalism), politics and social movements. When the news of his selection and subsequent crowning as the new Obong broke, rather than exult on end, I felt restrained and sober. Exultation, yes, because as an Obong, Edidem Bassey II will definitely make the palace a people's point of rally and an open space for socio-cultural assembly. He will let in fresh breath and bring colour and substance to the throne. But restrained and sober, on the other hand, because the sheer scale of the apparent contradiction of his ascent to a traditional stool, appears unimaginable. His Majesty Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, has been a journalist, trade unionist, Marxist, politician and social activist. But he is king today!

For some of us, therefore, we aren't one bit surprised about the euphoria, reactions and counter-reactions that have attended his successful installation as the Obong of Calabar. Comforting is the knowledge that he (Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey) won't be a laid back, hidden, pomp-relishing monarch. He will reign with his usual candour, rich intellect, openness and vibrancy. But why should this comrade go for a traditional rulership stool? A short historical run down: Bassey's grandfather was an Obong; his father, an Etubom (king maker). Born in November, 1949, to the King James Ekpo Bassey of Cobham Town, Calabar, the new Obong was himself inducted as Etubom in 1992 and holds the priestly traditional title of Iyamba, and head of the Efik kingship shrine.

The public media accounts, so far, are that, though it was the turn of Western Calabar, where Chief Tony Ani, former finance and foreign affairs minister hails from to present a candidate, and Ani (himself, an Etubom) was interested in the race, but was reportedly outmanoeuvred by some of the Etuboms from there. With the outlook of possible intractable struggle, fierce controversy and long-term vacuum, a conclave of 20 Etuboms, out of 33, in keeping with the tradition, selected and crowned Bassey as the new Obong.

The issue, therefore, is never about a question of whether Edidem Basey II is a fitting King, because he is. I'm all about the social significance of this development. We must begin to study, with renewed interest, the place of traditional institution in the direct development efforts of our communities. And in this case, not just any traditional stool, but one presided over by a man sufficiently steeped in the intellectual study of social dynamics, grassroots organizing and people's development. For me, having been somewhat oriented in matters of traditional institution, my experiences and recollections heavily tilted me away from it. I held on to this, until I encountered the Emir of Gumel, Alhaji Ahmed Sani, way back in the 1980s, when he came to talk to us at the NYSC camp in Gumel. The Emir caught me offguard. He was frank, forthright, with no forced royal airs. He spoke of his hope and dream of seeing a Nigeria that can develop the capacity to tap into the abundant youthful energies of the population; his love for farming and longings to interact and mingle with the "real" people. I should say that before then, I had not heard of any traditional ruler who could speak with such honest degree of ordinariness. The new Obong of Calabar sounds the same way.

Now, to the social analysis of the emergence of some persons of the political Left on the scene. Sometime ago we did try to locate the early socialist political orientation of President Yar'Adua, and risky as it was, we hazarded some sort of conclusions. It drew fire. At the appropriate time, history itself will take care of that, but if this would truly become an emergent social architecture, then the usual realm of social struggle has taken up a new space. In other words, it can never be an easy walk over, for a social activist, for instance, to aspire to preside over a monarchy, because it clearly appears contradictory, and many will fight to keep the status quo. The new Obong is now in that phase.

However, trite as it may sound, we may still restate that as a complex society, it can be morning yet, for our social evolution. I'm particularly interested in the emerging new social formations and the forces that appear to be driving certain social blocs in certain directions. I'm verily expectant of the social outcomes, and how these will bear on the socio-economic circumstances of our people. To be clearer, the point is that the emergence of Marxists, and socialists; political activists, ex-university teachers and former army generals, artists and social commentators, as traditional rulers, should engage our attention. Would it be that the spiralling development challenges of our society today, are reproducing new social formations? Would such aggregate for the social good of the people? Let's say that it could be, for, among the huge outpouring of goodwill and messages of solidarity for the new Obong, the Owelle of Onitsha, Chief Chukwuma Bamidele Azikwe, has, in the words of Plato, concluded that "Society will not know peace or progress, until either philosophers become kings, or kings become philosophers." I stand by that.

For harbouring so much power and influence over the people, for me, perhaps, it would do some public good, for those who truly understand the social situations; the worries and anxieties and dreams of the people, to take the traditional stool. As said, it may sound and look contradictory, but our people need and deserve quicker redemption from thieving governments and their bureaucrats and technocrats. As our comrade sits on the Obongship stool, I'm ecstatic. Groups and different communities in Calabar have continued to throng his palace, while solidarity and goodwill messages pour in, with some bearing great insight into the ascension of Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II. One of such has been that of Abubakar Rimi. According to the former Kano State governor, "…time has come when traditional institution which consumes so much of the national income, must play a part in the emancipation of the poor in the country." This could, perhaps, be a useful and fitting dialectics in the understanding of how and why a social activist found his way onto a traditional stool.

-- http://www.leadershipnigeria.com/product_info.php?products_id=26741&action=process&
osCsid=348cefc09ca7a8f56fa9b558f7b5d747

Obong tussle: Miscreants unleash mayhem in Calabar, The Tide, Nigeria, 4/24/08

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008

Arising from the on-going struggle for the enthronement of the new Obong of Calabar, no fewer than 20 persons are said to be lying critically ill in various clinics in Calabar metropolis, as miscreants on Monday night unleashed mayhem on residents of Cobham Town community, following a foiled attempt to cap yet another person as Obong of Calabar.

Sources close to the area hinted that children, men and women wept and ran in different directions as the miscreants went from house to house in the old Calabar settlement where the dreaded Efe Asabo (Efik Kingship Shrine) is located.

A middle aged woman, Ekanem Bassey crying and lamenting profusely said she was attacked and beaten severely with cutlasses by the street urchins.

Trouble, according to an eye witness account, started when the youths in the Cobham Town community intercepted a native doctor, Efiok Eyo Nsa, with a medicine pot approaching the shrine in an attempt to prepare the place (Efe Asabo) for the capping of a candidate in the struggle.

In the ensued bloody clash, the native doctor was taken hostage but was later rescued by the security agents. Consequently, the entire Cobham town for hours was thrown into confusion with one Augustine said to have been beaten and cut severally by the thugs in the presence of his three children between the ages of 7 and 10 years. He was later carried away by the joint taskforce in an open police pick-up van.

Narrating the incident to newsmen, one of the residents of the host community to the shrine and a victim, Patrick Bassey said, the invaders were led by one Etubom surname withheld) and the native doctor.

Reacting to the incident, the already capped Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, said, “I have been informed that under the protection of the Police and the Military, some thugs who were also obviously under official Government protection went into Cobham Town and brutalized the people, broke down doors, machete several members of the community and generally traumatized them. We are going to ask for investigation and insist that all the persons involved, in the mayhem be brought to book.

“It is certainly an act of sacrilege on the shrine. I am informed that the juju pot they brought to the place fell and broke into pieces, spilling the content. That in itself is quite significant. We are going to ask the Federal Government to assure us as a community that we are entitled to protection under the Nigerian law”.

The Chairman of the Joint Force, Col L. G. Lepdung declined comments on the matter saying only the Army Public Relations Officer can comment, but incidentally he was not in the office for comments.

However, top military sources confirmed the clash but denied any military involvement on the side of any of the contending parties. The sources maintained that the Joint Task force has only intensified patrol at the Cobham town area to maintain security and they even quelled the crisis on Monday night.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Cross River State Governor, Mr. Patrick Ugbe said government was not aware of the incident and that government was not even interested on who becomes the Obong.

In a Save Our Soul letter sent to the State Commissioner of Police, HRH, Etubom Ekpo Eyo, complained bitterly on how some miscreants entered their Ekpe Shrine and desecrated, after unleashing mayhem on the people and called for immediate police surveillance in the area.

Meanwhile, the High Court in Calabar has reserved April 28 for judgment on the injunction sought by the people of Mbiabo Ikoneto, asking the court to stop the Etubom Traditional council from presenting anyone to the state government as the Obong elect of Calabar.

 --  www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=04/24/2008&qrTitle=Obong%20tussle:%20Miscreants%20
unleash%20mayhem%20in%20Calabar&qrColumn=FRONT%20PAGE

Rimi, Azikiwe, Others Congratulate Obong, 4/23/08, Leadership Nigeria

Second Republic governor of Kano State, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi, has described Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, Obong of Calabar, as the beacon of hope for the hopelessly marginalised masses of our people, stressing that, "With this development in Calabar, it is clear to me, as well as all leaders of progressive Nigeria, that the time has come when the traditional institution, which consumes so much of our national income, must play a part in the emancipation of the poor in our country".

In a congratulatory message to the Obong, Rimi said "Nigeria needs you in that position; we shall fight to prevent a reversal of such a significant gain for the masses". In his own message, the Owelle of Onitsha, Chief Chukwuemeka Bamidele Azikiwe, quoted Plato in his salutation to the Obong Bassey II, "It was Plato who said that society will not know peace or progress until either philosophers become kings or kings become philosophers. I greet you, philosopher and king".

There were messages from former governor of Edo State, Chief John Oyegun and former member of the National Assembly, Senator Paul Ukpo. Oyegun said that following the monumental waste of the past eight years, the traditional rulers must join hands with the section of the current political leadership that is minded to rescue Nigeria. 

In his message, Ukpo said that the ascension of Bassey II was important not only for the Calabar people, but also for the entire Cross River State, and Nigeria as a whole. Last week, messages came from other many prominent Nigerians, including Prof. Pat Utomi, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Dr. Arthur Nwankwo, and many others.

www.leadershipnigeria.com/product_info.php?products_id=26621
&osCsid=07125b163582f7245a63f7d113839257

Choice Of Monarch Splits Efik Kingdom, 4/19/08, Guardian, Nigeria

From Anietie Akpan (calabar)

As the Cross River State government begins to soft pedal on its involvement in the Obongship crisis, the Efik Kingdom have rejected the purported selection of Etubom Ekpo Abasi Otu by the factional Etubom Traditional Council as the Obong elect. 

This position was contained yesterday in a crowded press conference addressed by the former Chairman of Bakassi Local Government Council on behalf of 176 others representing the 5 Efik councils of Calabar South, Calabar Municipal, Odukpani, Akpabuyo and Bakasssi at the Ernest Etim Bassey Press Centre, Calabar.

But the Etubom Abasi Otu group led by the Chairman of the factional Etubom Traditional Council Etubo Eyo Efiok have maintained that Otu is the legitimate Obong elect.

The press conference text captioned, "text of press conference by Efik Elders, Elites, Youths and Market Women of Calabar, Odukpani, Akpabuyo and Bakassi on the purported selection of Obong of Calabar by the Etuboms Traditional Council on 8th April, 2008", the Efik people said with that selection, "alas, the Efiks have been dragged back a hundred years by the choice of Etubom Out of Adiabo as the Obong elect".

The noted that the day "April 8, 2008 was a day of mourning for all Efiks worldwide" as "this was the day when a few a few Etuboms of the Etubom Traditional Council in Calabar, despite a subsisting court action, defied the courts and announced Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu of Adiabo as the Obong of Calabar-elect off Calabar".

Accordingly, "all Efiks of sound mind reject this choice and we are here to tell the world of this rejection. Etubom Abasi Otu rigged selection is in bad taste and cannot stand the test of time".

They alleged that if the Etubom Traditional Council had done a thorough job, they would have found out that the genealogical chart presented by Etubom Abasi Otu showing that he is of agnate lineage is wrong "whereas his descendancy from Mbo Otu lineage in Adiabbo is cognate...Ascension to the Efik throne is the exclusive preserve of the agnate line, no more, no less.

They argued that in 1986, through brotherly agreement, the Ikoneto people conceded their turn to produce Obong of Calabar without any material demand to Adiabo people who came pleading on grounds that next turn they will support Ikoneto to produce an Obong but this was not to be when the turn of Ikoneto came in 2008. "The Adiabo people led by Etubom Otu Ekpenyong Effa approached Etubom Eyo Offiong of Ikoneto" to broker the agreement.

The Efik people noted that "after the screening of Etubom Ani at Adiabo, all the 4 etuboms from Adiabo agreed that it was the turn of Ikoneto to produce the Obong of Calabar and the asked Ikonneto to prepare a traditional banquet for Adiabo people. With this banquet, no one from Adiabo would contest or ascend to the throne of Obong of Calabar and nobody from Adiabo would contest with Ikonetoe for the throne.

But after the banquet which was accepted on behalf of the Efik Iboku Esit Edik by the Chairman of the Esit Edik Traditional Council Etubom Abasi Otu followed with the investiture of Etubom Ani in a colourful ceremony on March 15, the Adiabo people reneged on their promise and the brotherly agreement, they argued.

According to them, everybody based on the 1970 accord and the year 2000 government white paper, knows that it was the turn of Ikoneto to produce an Obong and "Etubom Anthony Ani's candidature is supported by God, the gods, deities and all Efiks in Nigeria and in dispora".

They submitted that "the Efiks [want] someone better and Etubom Ani is the clear answer. The Efik people will not accept any other person on the throne of their fore fathers other than Etubom Anthony Asuquo Ani.

Meanwhile The Guardian gathered that the State government is beginning to soft-pedal on its alleged support for the Etubom Abasi Otu choice as it believes in equity and fair play.

Early in the week, Etubom Ani was sighted in the Governor's office and sources said he had a close door meeting with the deputy governor Mr Efiok Cobham but outcome of the meeting was not made public.

However it was gathered that the government was interested in fashioning out peaceful resolution in the Obongship crisis that has rocked the Efik kingdom for since March 31, 2008 when Etubom Otu was first selected with exclusion of other groups aspiring for the throne and the eventual capping of Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey on April 6 at Efe Asabo.

Meanwhle, the new Obong of Calabar, Edidem, Bassey Ekpo Bassey II has continued to receive congratulatory messages from more Nigerians.

In one of such messages, the Second Republic Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi described Bassey II as "a beacon of hope for the hopelessly marginalized masses of our people".

"With this development in Calabar, it is clear to me as well as all leaders of progressive Nigeria , that the time has come when the traditional institution, which consumes so much of our national income, must play a part in the emancipation of the poor in our country. Nigeria needs you in that position; we shall fight to prevent a reversal of such a significant gain for the masses".

The Owelle of Onitsha, Chief Chukwuemeka Bamidele Azikiwe quoted Plato in his salutation of Bassey II, saying, "It is Plato who said that society will not know peace or progress until either philosophers become kings or kings become philosophers. I greet you, philosopher and king!".

Former Governor of Edo State , Chief John Oyegun and former member of the National Assembly, Senator, Paul Ukpo, also sent congratulatory messages wishing Bassey well.

www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article16//indexn3_html?pdate=190408
&ptitle=Choice%20Of%20Monarch%20Splits%20Efik%20Kingdom&cpdate=190408

Efik elders reject Abasi Otu as Obong-elect, 4/16/08, Vanguard, Nigeria

Written by John Ighodaro 
Wednesday, 16 April 2008 

A section of Efik elders, youths and market women have kicked against the choice of Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the Obong-elect of Calabar by a faction of the Calabar Etubom. 

Soon after Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey was capped as the Obong of Calabar on April 6, a faction of the Etubom responded by declaring on Tuesday, April 8, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as Obong-elect of Calabar. 

The group of Efik elders, the youths and market women yesterday in Calabar condemned the choice of Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as Obong-elect by a faction of the Etubom, saying they would rather have former Minister of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani, as the Obong.   [Etubom Anthony Ani was Finance Minister under former military dictator Sani Abacha, one of Nigeria's most corrupt and violent rulers during whose regime (1993-98) some 5 billion US dollars disappeared from state coffers into private accounts in foreign banks -- AfroCubaWeb.]

Addressing newsmen at the NUJ Secretariat in Calabar, their spokesman, Chief Emmanuel Etene, said they would not have Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the Obong. 

According to them, “Tuesday, 8th of April 2008 was a day of mourning for all Efik worldwide. This same day will in future be marked as a day of mourning when all Efik will wear sack clothes and weep until justice is done. 

“This was the day when a few Etubom of the Etubom Traditional Council in Calabar, despite a subsisting court action, defied the courts and announced Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu of Adiabo as the Obong-elect of Calabar. All Efik of sound mind reject this choice and we are here to tell the world of this rejection,” he said. 

-- www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6844&Itemid=44

Efik kingship and race for ascendancy  4/16/08 The Tide, Nigeria

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008

It was an Sunday April 6, 2008 at about 11am when it was expected that at least majority of Christians would be at their various places of worship that the idea of mounting the coveted throne of the highest Efik Kingdom appeared most appropriate to a veteran Journalist, Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey.

Worried on how to beat the heavy security guard at Efe Asabo, Cobham Town, the new Edidem in company of some Efik king makers disguised themselves by carrying all the necessary paraphernalia meant for the installation of a new Obong in small water containers pretending they were going into the shrine to clean the place and made it ready for a new enthronement.

Before this time there had been a contending issue that the former Finance Minister, Chief Anthony Ani was being tipped by the Ekoneto people to be the Obong of Calabar. In fact, a prominent Etubom in Adiabo had relinquished his position to the former finance minister through an inexhaustible bargaining.   [Etubom Anthony Ani was Finance Minister under former military dictator Sani Abacha, one of Nigeria's most corrupt and violent rulers during whose regime (1993-98) some 5 billion US dollars disappeared from state coffers into private accounts in foreign banks -- AfroCubaWeb.]

That was not even enough, Chief Anthony Ani was said to have been brought into the Obong Palace for recognition by the Ebubom- in- Council which, according to the Efik tradition, were the necessary steps for ascending the throne since, a new Obong was usually being selected among the Etuboms. 

In all of this, and many other struggles since the demise of the former Obong of Calabar, Edidem (professor) Nta Elija Henshaw, despite the seeming controversies surrounding the stool of the Obong of Calabar, Etubom (now Edidem) Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, a veterant journalist and political heavy-weight in Cross River State, finally emerged as the new Obong of Calabar. 

The crowning of the Edidem Ekpo Bassey could not have taken in the night, as usual, because the vigilante group made up of mostly youths from Cohbom Town would not have allowed any entry into the Sacred Efik Shrine without alerting the king makers, hence the idea of beating the imaginations of the heavy police officials who had been guarding the shrine apparently because of the perceived Cross River State Government interest in the entire struggle. 

As stated earlier, Bassey Ekpo Bassey emerged Obong on Sunday morning at about 11am after he was crowned at the Efik Kingship Shrine at Efe Asabo to a total surprise of both the policemen on guard and the entire Henshaw Town people themselves, thus becoming the new Obong of Calabar and Grand Patriarch of the Efik. Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, who is now being described as controversial by those who may not be in his camp, succeeds late Obong, Edidem Professor Nta Elijah Henshaw VI who died early this year.

Dressed in traditional kinship regalia, the new Obong emerged from Efe Asabo to a spontaneous embrace of and unprecedented jubilation by the residents of Cobham Town.

Etubom, Ekpo Eyo who crowned the new Obong told journalists shortly after the ceremony that the crowning of Bassey as king of the Efiks is justified by tradition of the Efik people, stressing that Ekpo Bassey was ordained to be king.

Eyo said Bassey capped the late Obong, while his father, Etubom Bassey’s father crowned the late Edidem Ene Mkpang Cobham and his grand father crowned the late Edidem Otu Effa.

I did the traditional crowning as the direct descendant grand son of Eyo Ema who was the first Efik King. He was three-in-one. He was the Head Ndem Efik; Head Ekpe Efik and the Ruler of all Efiks, he said. 

To this end, Eyo said, Bassey is a very prominent and likeable character. From all spectrum of the Efik Kingdom to the commonest man in the streets; to the highest in the kingdom, he is the most popular.

His popularity is not only felt in Efik Kingdom. He is so popular among other ethnic groups up to Akwa Ibom State and beyond, Eyo said of the new Monarch.

As at press time, many dignitaries were trooping to the residence of the new Obong to pay homage to him. Among the early callers were the former Acting National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Etubom Nya Asuquo and founding member of the South South People Assembly (SSPA), Dr. Ambrose Akpanika who is the Mkpison Ukara Ekondo Efik.

Akpanika who briefed journalists on the significance of the crowning of Edidem Bassey said the event marked the emergence of a new Monarch for Efik Kingdom, adding that the emergence of Bassey as the new Obong of Calabar was arrived at through the decision take by majority of the 12 Ruling Principalities of the Efik Kingdom. 

Commenting on the controversy, a kingmaker, Etubom Nya Asuquo of Nya Anatang Royal House said traditionally, as soon as one person is taken to the Efik shrine and all traditional rites are performed, no other person can be so crowned until he is no more.

The man who crowned the Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey was the man who crowned the late Edidem Elijah Henshaw in 1999 to the chagrin of the then governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke.

Following the crowning of Edidem Henshaw in 1999, he and Bassey Ekpo Bassey suffered a period of incarceration as the then Governor Donald Duke sent the police after them. Government, however, recognised Edidem Henshaw as Obong of Calabar in 2001 and maintained that position until he passed on in 2008.

Addressing a crowded press conference on the issue, the chairman of the Etuboms conclave, Etubom Okon Etim Asuquo III and Secretary, Etubom Micah Archibong VI in company of others at the Obong Palace, announced the proclamation of the Head of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu House, Western Calabar, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu, as the Obong-Elect of the Efik Kingdom. Chairman-In- Conclave further noted that the proclamation followed the passing away of Edidem (Prof.) Elijah Henshaw VI.

They declared that the new Obong of Calabar will be crowned and addressed as His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, adding the Conclave shall announce the date for the various traditional ceremonies in due course.

In an interactive session with newsmen in his private palace in Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, explained that since 1846, the palace of every subsisting Obong had his palace at his private residence and that the idea of the central palace for Obong was muted and adopted in 1970.

As far as he was concerned, no other person enters Efe Asabo for the purpose of crowning another Obong until the demise of the existing one, stressing that unless they want to come and kill me otherwise I remain the Obong of Calabar.

-- http://www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=04/16/2008&qrTitle=Efik%20kingship%20and
%20%20race%20for%20ascendancy&qrColumn=ISSUES

New Obong of Calabar, deputy governor differ on death plot, Guardian, Nigeria, 4/15/08

From Anietie Akpan, Calabar

NEWLY capped Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey, has accused the Cross River State Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham and the State Police Command of plots to kill him.

However, the Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Mr. Effiong Okan, has denied the allegation, describing it as "frivolous," adding that "the office of the deputy governor is not even aware."

In a letter dated April 11, addressed to the State Commissioner of Police, Innocent Illozuoke, Edidem Bassey alleged: "We have received intelligence from someone who described himself as a police officer, but refused to disclose his identity, that the Cross River State Police Command has secretly agreed with the Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Efiok Cobham, to assassinate me."

According to Bassey, "I am taking this very seriously because indications are that it is true. Last Thursday, I received a letter from your office inviting me in connection with a charge of house breaking and conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.

"My initial suspicion was that you were trying to help the other side generate news. We all know the standard operation of the police.

"This morning, an unidentified police officer informed me that you were not just interested in arresting me to generate news, but that I would definitely be killed to pave the way for a second crowning at the shrine and that you are going to provide cover for the minority faction to break into the shrine."

He said: "If my house is broken into, I do not just go to the police, finger persons and have them arrested. I have to show evidence of breaking and entry.

"If as I think, you are concerned with our shrine, the police know that I have been the head of the place since 1999. The Cross River State Government has addressed me as such a number of times, and recently the Inspector General of Police wrote to me in that same regard , as head of the shrine."

Edidem Bassey pointed out that following his petition as the head of Efe Ekpe Eyo Ema (which houses the Efik kingship shrine) to the Inspector General of Police (IG), "I received a letter from the IG's office (dated March 18, 2008, with the reference CB:7000/IGP. SEC/ABJ/VOL 229/565).

"The indication is that the action was ordered as per my petition. I also observed that the police withdrew from the shrine. Surprisingly, however, on Sunday, April 6, 2008, when I was capped at the shrine as Obong of Calabar, there were police guards stationed at the shrine. The police had returned!

"Now, the police are there in great numbers. Our intelligence is that they have been contracted to help the minority faction of Etubom working with the governor break into the shrine and commit the sacrilege of a second capping."

The Obong who copied the Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Nigeria Police, Zone Six, Calabar, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Austin Obaedo and the Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to the Inspector General of Police, Abuja said: "I must again alert you to the fact that the role of the police in this matter is precipitate; doing everything in their power to provoke the Cobham Town community into resistance, so that they may be slaughtered.

"We have done every act of our traditional process in peace. Why are the policemen so menacingly present? When we went to perform our traditional processes on 6th of April, the police were there. And you can accuse me of house breaking?"

However, Effiong while denying the allegation on behalf of his boss, stated that "he (Bassey) is not sure of what he is doing otherwise he would have sent a copy of his petition to him (deputy governor) for his reaction."

The Commissioner of Police, on his part, admitted seeing the petition from Edidem Bassey but said "no comment."

By Efik tradition, no person can be capped a second time after the first capping in the life time of the Obong. 

-- www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article13//indexn3_html?pdate=150408&ptitle=New%20Obong%20of%20Calabar,
%20deputy%20governr%20differ%20on%20death%20plot&cpdate=150408

Obong of Calabar backs anti-graft war, 4/11/08

From Anietie Akpan, Calabar
The Guardian

The new Obong of Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey, has joined the fight against corruption, saying it is the only way Nigeria could become a developed nation.

Bassey, who spoke against the backdrop of alleged shady deals in the palace of the immediate past Obong in respect of fake clans and villages, pointed out that the war against corruption by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's administration should be supported by all Nigerians.

The monarch said the essence of the anti-graft campaign was to ensure that persons who engage in defrauding the government of the nation's resources are not rewarded by the society if we are to move ahead.

Obong Bassey, whose coronation last Sunday has been opposed by a faction of the Etubom (kingmakers), said the fight against corruption should be extended to all facets of the society.

According to him, traditional institutions must engage in the campaign even when it means looking inwards, which is one of the reasons the people supported him for the Obong's stool.

He noted that some of the Etubom, who tried in vain to stop him from assuming the throne, are those who had over the years been collecting stipends for non-existing clans and villages in the state.

"Those sitting there are mainly people who are sitting on that scam. They are still drawing stipends on villages that do not exist. One of them has 22 of such villages listed for an area which is one-and-a-half streets in Calabar-South", he added.

He alleged that some of the Etubom and chiefs personally received stipends from some of those villages, which is bad for a state that is not financially secured.

Bassey revealed that Cross River had stopped the payment of stipends on the basis of complaints made to the state government over such fraudulent acts.

He said for this reason, " majority of those who were involved in fighting this act of fraud were persecuted and kept out of the palace.

"Nigeria must not reward fraud by allowing those people to exclusively select an Obong and continue with what they have been doing. We will not allow them".

He urged all his subjects in the Efik Kingdom both at home and in the Diaspora to maintain their peace as the Efik have crowned their monarch and the process cannot be repeated in a life-time of an Obong.

Obong Bassey pointed out that his capping was done in accordance with Efik custom and tradition.

www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article18//indexn3_html?pdate=110408&ptitle=Obong
%20of%20Calabar%20backs%20anti-graft%20war&cpdate=110408

Nigeria: Parallel Obong of Calabar Emerges, 4/10/08, Leadership

Leadership (Abuja)
10 April 2008
Edem Edem

Crisis of who succeeds the late Obong of Calabar, Late Edidem (Prof) Nta Elijah Henshaw VI has taken a more dangerous dimension with the Etubom Conclave of the Obong of Calabar announcing the new Obong of Calabar just as a veterant journalist Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey was crowned and capped as the new Obong of Calabar on Sunday.

In a statement signed by the chairman, Palace of the Obong of Calabar, Etubom council, His Royal Highness (HRH) Etubom Okon Etim Okon Asuquo(111) and Secretary, Etubom, Micah Archibong, announced Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu as the new Obong.

The new Obong, who is the head of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu House, Western Calabar, is now known and addressed as His eminence Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, the fifth. The Palace, however, said, that the conclave would announce the dates for the various traditional ceremonies in the near future.

The statement which was contained in the official letter head of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar, Etubom's Council, dated April 5, 2008, titled, " Breaking News ", stated that "the Etuboms conclave of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar has great pleasure to proclaim the ascension to the Efik throne of his Royal Highness, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu head of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu House, Western Calabar as Obong of Calabar following the death of late Obong, his Eminence Edidem Professor Nta Elijah Henshaw(VI)"

It would be recalled that on Sunday, April 6, 2008, Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey emerged the new Obong of Calabar at about 10.45 am after he was crowned at the Efik Kingship Shrine Efe Asabo as the new Obong of Calabar and Grand Patriarch of the Efik. The controversial king as described as Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey II succeeds the late Obong, Edidem Professor Nta Elija Henshaw VI who died early this year.

The crowning ceremony took place at Efe Asabo, where Bassey, who was dressed in traditional kinship regalia, emerged to a spontaneous embrace of and unprecedented jubilation by the residents Cobham Town. Etubom, Ekpo Eyo who crowns the new Obong told journalists shortly after the ceremony, that the Crowning of Bassey as king of the Efiks was justified by the tradition of the Efik people. He said Bassey was ordained to be king.

Eyo said Bassey capped the late Obong, while his father, Etubom Bassey,s father crowned the late Edidem Ene Mkpang Cobahm but his grand father crowned the late Edidem Otu Effa.

"I did the traditional crowning as the direct descendant grand son of Eyo Ema who was the first Efik King. He was three-in one. He was the head Ndem Efik; Head Ekpe Efik and the ruler of all Efiks.

Consequently, Eyo said, " Bassey is a very prominent and likeable character. From all spectra of the Efik Kingdom to the commonest man in the streets; to the highest in the kingdom, he is the most popular. His popularity is not only felt in Efik Kingdom. He is so popular among other ethnic groups up to Akwa Ibom state and beyond".

As at press time many dignitaries were trooping to the residence of the new Obong to pay homage to him. Among the early callers were the former acting national chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Etubom Nya Asuquo and founding member of the South South Peoples Assembly (SSPA), Dr. Ambrose Akpanika, who is the Mkpison Ukara Ekondo Efik.

Akpanika, who addressed a press conference to brief journalists on the significance of the crowning of Edidem Bassey, said the event marked the emergence of a new Monarch for Efik Kingdom.

Akpanika said that the emergence of Bassey, as the new Obong of Calabar, was arrived at through the decision taken by majority of the 12 Ruling Principalities of the Efik Kingdom.

As at the time of filling this report security operatives including mobile police men, state security service officials and others were seen deplored to nooks and crannies of the state capital to monitor the movement of people in the metropolis.

-- http://allafrica.com/stories/200804100592.html

Confusion in Calabar, as another Obong is proclaimed
The Tide
Thursday, Apr 10, 2008

True to prediction, the lingering kingship tussle in Calabar, Cross River State that culminated in the crowning of Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II as Obong of Calabar, last Sunday, has taken a fresh turn as another faction which describes itself as the Etubom Conclave of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar has declared another person as the Obong of Calabar.

Addressing a crowded press conference on the issue, the Chairman of the Etubom conclave, Etubom Okon Etim Asuquo III and Secretary, Etubom Micah Archibong VI in company of others at the Obong’s Palace, announced the proclamation of the Head of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu House, Western Calabar , Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu, as the Obong-Elect of the Efik Kingdom Chairman-In- Conclave further noted that the proclamation followed the passing away of Edidem (Prof.) Elijah Henshaw VI.

They declared that the new Obong of Calabar will be crowned and addressed as His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, adding that the Conclave shall announce the date for the various traditional ceremonies in due course.

It will be recalled that Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey was crowned as Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II on Sunday at Efe Asabo, the Efik traditional shrine.

In a statement in Calabar, the Mkpisong Ukara Ekondo Efik, Dr. Ambrose Akpanika noted that it was no news that succession to the throne of the Obong of Calabar had been plagued with a history of controversies over the years.

Continuing, he said, “this seemingly traditional controversy is, not unexpectedly, consequent upon institutional inadequacies and contradictions generated by empty and unfounded aristocratic claims to royalty and consistent arrogant and criminal consignment of distinguished personages of the Efik Kingdom to the undignified precincts of slaves, even in the 21st century, in a rather plural and politically informed society built by our forefathers as captured in the World History of civilization.

Commenting on the controversy, a kingmaker, Etubom Nya Asuquo of Nya Anatang Royal House said traditionally, as soon as one person is taken to the Efik shrine and all traditional rites performed, no other person can be so crowned until he is no more.

The man who was crowned the Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey was the man who crowned the late Edidem Elijah Henshaw in 1999 to the chagrin of the then governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke.

Following the crowning of Edidem Henshaw in 1999, he and Bassey Ekpo Bassey suffered a period of incarceration as the then Governor Donald Duke sent the police after them. Government, however recognized Edidem Henshaw as Obong of Calabar in 2001 and maintained that position until he passed on in 2008.

In an interactive session with newsmen in his private palace in Calabar, Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II, explained that since 1846, the palace of every subsisting Obong had his palace at his private residence and that the idea of the central palace for Obong was muted and adopted in 1970.

As far as he was concerned, “no any other person enters Efe Asabo for the purpose of crowning another Obong until the demise of the existing one, stressing, unless they want to come and kill me, otherwise I remain the Obong of Calabar”.

http://www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=04/10/2008&qrTitle=Confusion%20in%20Calabar,%20
as%20another%20Obong%20is%20proclaimed&qrColumn=FRONT%20PAGE

Bassey Ekpo Bassey emerges new Obong of Calabar, 4/7/08
by John Ighodaro, Vanguard, Nigeria

Monday, 07 April 2008

Prominent publisher and politician, Bassey Ekpo Bassey, has emerged as the new Obong of Calabar with the title Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II. 
He emerged the Obong yesterday morning at about 11.00am after he was crowned at the Efiks' Efe Asabo as the Grand Patriarch of the Efik and the new Obong of Calabar. 

He succeeds the late Obong, Professor Nta Elija Henshaw VI who passed on early this year. Soon after the ceremony, the new Obong Edidem Bassey who was dressed in traditional royal regalia emerged from the Efe Asabo to a roaring applause and jubilation by the residents of Cobham Town, the seat of the Efe Asabo. 

Briefing newsmen after the ceremony, Etubom, Ekpo Eyo, who crowned the new Obong, said Bassey's crowning as Obong is justified by tradition of the Efik people. 

According to him, Bassey was ordained to be king. He explained that Bassey crowned the late Obong, while Bassey's father crowned the late Edidem Ene Mkpang Cobahm and that Bassey's grandfather crowned the late Edidem Otu Effa. 

His words: "I did the traditional crowning as the direct descendant grand son of Eyo Ema who was the first Efik King. He was three-in one. He was the head Ndem Efik; Head Ekpe Efik and the ruler of all Efiks. "Bassey is a very prominent and likeable character. From all spectrum of the Efik Kingdom to the commonest man in the streets; to the highest in the kingdom, he is the most popular. 

His popularity is not only felt in Efik Kingdom . He is so popular among other ethnic groups up to Akwa Ibom state and beyond." 

http://www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6280&Itemid=44


Ekpo Bassey becomes Obong of Calabar 
From Anietie Akpan, Calabar, The Guardian
Monday, April 07, 2008 

In a dramatic twist of events, a veteran journalist and frontline politician, Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey, was yesterday selected and traditionally crowned as the new Obong of Calabar. 

Etubom Bassey, who crowned the last Obong, Edidem Nta Elijah Henshaw, eight years ago, was enthroned at the Efe Asabo (the Kingship Shrine) at about 10.45a.m., taking most people by surprise even as Sunday services were going on in several churches. The shrine is located in Old Calabar just 100 metres away from the Duke Town Presbyterian Church. 

Usually, the ceremony is done in secret and only the initiated and the Etubom of the ruling houses are allowed to partake. Etubom Ekpo Eyo, who oversaw the enthronement of the new Obong with the traditional "Ntinya" (traditional crown), said: "I did the traditional crowning as the great grandson of Edidem Ekpo Eyo Ema who was the first king of the Efik, chief priest and Obong ekpe." 

Ultimately, Etubom Bassey's emergence has put paid to the tussle and controversy that has trailed succession to the throne since the demise of Edidem Henshaw on February 16, 2008. 

As it is with the tradition of the Efik, once an Obong has been crowned with the traditional Ntinya and the ancestral rites at the Efe Asabo performed in the presence of the 12 Efik principalities, no any other person can be crowned until his death. 

"The significance of the crowning today means the Efik people have entered their shrine and placed their Obong on the throne and no other person will be crowned until he dies," Chief Ambrose Akpanika declared. 

Briefing journalists yesterday, the Mkpisong Ukara Ekondo Efik, Akpanika, said: "In recent times, especially during the reign of Henshaw VI, a nefarious constitution and the dissolution of the Obong's Council had created deep-rooted resentments and contradictions that resulted in the exclusion, not only of the principalities, but of several houses even within the usually accepted seven principalities." 

He said it was not news that "succession to the throne of the Obong of Calabar has been plagued with history of controversies over the years and in the wake of the crises, the houses that subsequently selected their Etubom were completely shut out of participation in the affairs of their homeland." 

In view of these crises, Akpanika, who spoke on behalf of the majority of excluded Etubom, said: "It is in this score and in the effort to find a lasting solution to the problems of our people through the consistently denied reforms that the majority of the Etuboms of Houses excluded from the palace has teamed up to select and to crown Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey today the 6th of April, 2008 as Edidem Bassey II, the Obong of Calabar and Grand Patriarch of the Efik people." 

www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article14//indexn3_html?pdate=070408&ptitle=Ekpo%20Bassey%20becomes%20Obong
%20of%20Calabar&cpdate=070408

Calabar monarch tussle takes new turn 4/8/08  Vanguard, Nigeria

by John Ighodaro, 
Tuesday, 08 April 2008

The lingering kingship tussle in Calabar that culminated in the crowning of Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II as Obong of Calabar, Sunday has taken a fresh turn as another faction which describes itself as "The Etubom's Conclave of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar" has declared another man as the Obong of Calabar. 

A release issued by the Conclave and jointly signed by the Chairman of the Etubom's conclave, Etubom Okon Etim Asuquo III and Secretary, Etubom Micah Archibong VI in Calabar noted the proclaimation of "the Head of Adiabo Ikot Mbo Otu House, Western Calabar, Etubom Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu as Obong of Calabar." 

The Conclave further noted the proclamation followed the passing away of Edidem (Prof.) Elijah Henshaw VI. They declared that the new Obong of Calabar will be crowned and addressed as His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, adding "the Conclave shall announce the date for the various traditional ceremonies in due course." 

It will be recalled that Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey was crowned as Edidem Bassey Ekpo Bassey II on Sunday at the Efik's traditional shrine. In a statement in Calabar, the Mkpisong Ukara Ekondo Efik, Dr. Ambrose Akpanika noted that it is "no news that succession to the throne of the Obong of Calabar has been plunged with a history of controversies over the years". 

Continuing, he said, "this seemingly traditional controversy is, not unexpectedly, consequent upon institutional inadequacies and contradictions generated by empty and unfounded aristocratic claims to royalty and consistent arrogant and criminal consignment of distinguished personages of the Efik Kingdom to the undignified precincts of slaves, even in the 21st century, in a rather plural and politically informed society built by our forefathers as captured in the World History of civilization." 

http://www.vanguardngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6292&Itemid=42


Interview with Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey, now the new Obong of Calabar, 2/25/08

Calabar Mgb and Regional Unity
Dr. Ivor Miller

Introduction

Calabar Mgb is a multi-ethnic assembly from the Cross River region, created to address the dangers of ethnic violence in the region. Membership in Calabar Mgb is not by individuals, but by kp (or Mgb) lodges, of which there are hundreds in the region, each one signaling the existence of an autonomous community (i.e., clan or principality). kp is the traditional government in the region, and from the 16th to 20th centuries served to create trade networks throughout the region, even into Cameroon and Fernando Po. Enslaved Cross River peoples taken to the Americas established in Cuba a variant of kp called Abaku. Being an ancient, multi-ethnic cultural and political fraternity, kp is an effective vehicle to address looming problems of ethnic violence in the region.

On February 25, 2008 in Calabar, Etubom Bassey Ekpo Bassey, Obong-Iyamba (head) of Efe kp Eyo Ema (the Eyo Ema kp lodge) of the Ekoretonko Clan of Calabar, spoke with Dr. Ivor Miller (African Studies Center, Boston University) on the birth and significance of Calabar Mgb.

Bassey's statements:

Members of the Eyo Ema lodge acted as a group to initiate the formation of Calabar Mgb; we invited the lodges of other ethnic areas to join us in that enterprise. That was our vision, and we found that others were read y to buy into it. We were concerned with the fk, Efut, Okonyong, Qua, and Umon ethnic areas. Until the creation of Calabar Mgb in 2007, there was an altogether unacceptable situation in Calabar. The various ethnic areas were at daggers drawn against each other, and there was a real danger that the place might descend into episodic and miasmic violence, such as we have in the Nigerian port of Warri, where the ‘ownership’ of the city so to speak, is constantly in dispute between the three or so ethnic groups that inhabit the area. Every once in a while they fight it out, and at the end of the day there’s a big wasteland of human bodies, raked houses, vehicles which have been destroyed, etc. So we are anxious to use cultural bonds, in this specific case, the kp form, to overcome this gruesome possibility.

kp was the culture of choice, ONE because it is a cultural form that each of these principalities or ethnic areas possesses. Secondly, because in each of these cases, kp is central to the traditional governance of the area; kp is the law, so to speak. Outside of the modern state system, kp is the only social form that has authority and can organize. So we chose kp and went to work with it.

The kp Festival

The real attraction for the lodges that were invited, was an opportunity to share in the organization of the International kp Festival which we had initiated in 2002 at the Eyo Ema lodge. We were ready to share it, in order to enlarge it, make it truly international, and place it at the disposal of the work of unity, which is our goal. So we found that all the lodges were ready to buy into it, and we were quite pleased with that. So we now have the international kp festival, organized by the aggregate of kp lodges of the fk, Efut, Okonyong, Qua, and Umon. That is were we are now.

The festival became international in 2004 with the participation of Cuban Abaku. Before that, we had the participation of Cameroon kp members, but there was never a formalized participation from Cameroon; instead, members of the kp society who were autochthonous to Cameroon, and who happened to be around, participated in the festival. Up till now, we have not been able to secure organized participation from Cameroon. But recently we have reached out to Cameroon, and also to Equatorial Guinea. We are aware that there is kp in Gabon, and also in the two Congos, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo. We are also desirous of incorporating them into the festival. But our big problem now is funding. When that is overcome, the festival will be truly representative and quite large. There have been a long retinue of researchers from offshore; one of them, Dr. Ivor Miller, has helped create the Calabar/ Cuba reencounter, and made the participation of Cuban Abaku in our festival possible.

One thing that we have noticed about our kp, is that it has several provenances. kp is not a matter for just one ethnic group; you have many kinds of influences upon the fk kp, from Balondo, Ekoi (Ejagham), gbo, Qua, etc. We have these in the incantations, in the chants, even in the masquerades, to the extent that even royal British tradition is incorporation into kp. So reaching out the way we have done in the format of Calabar Mgb, affords us an opportunity of making direct contact with the sources of some of these influences that have made our kp very eclectic over time. So we are happy to share, and are enriched through that sharing.

kp is called by different names in different places. By and large, it translates as leopard or lion. It is for instance, kp with the fk, Mgb with the Qua, Obe with the Usakedet (Usaghade), Nymkp at Equatorial Guinea, Ntombe at the Congos, and so on. Nymkp is actually a grade in fk kp; just as Ntombe is at Uruan. What puts all these leopard societies together is the centrality of the deity called Mboko. That is our Mother.

In the early Paleolithic period, with the development of agriculture, Great Mother Goddesses developed in most civilizations, and following their apotheosis, became the dominant or supreme deities in those society. It was Anat in Canaan, Inana in Sumeria, Ishtar in Babylon, Aphrodite in Greece and Isis in Egypt. In kp communities, it was and is, Mboko.

kp, to the extent that it expresses the sovereignty of a community, is for that reason rather isolate, and doesn’t lend itself to corporation with kp from other places. The only thing that made a difference to that kind attitude in ancient times was the activity of fk traders, who took kp wherever they went, and they were able to plant kp in sundry places, and there was for that reason, some kind of flow in the culture, if you catch my drift. What we are doing now goes beyond the ambience created by trade. What we are doing now really brings kp from sundry places together. We reveal ourselves to each other, learn from each other, and we find that what comes out in terms of entertainment value, at least, is quite enchanting.

Paris Event

In 2007 several members of Calabar Mgb traveled to Paris to perform at the Muse Quai Branly, along with a Cuban Abaku ensemble. The process of selecting the participants was very interesting. Everybody in Calabar Mgb is technically competent in kp matters, everybody is a chanter, the young people are all drummers; you have people practising Nsibidi from the point of view of where they come from, even while certain Nsibidi forms are general [Nsibidi is the esoteric form of communication of kp using gestures, percussion, and visual symbols]. So it was quite interesting to put all these things together, to draw from all the participating ethnic groups with their differences, and then to wield them into a team that can perform together. Since everybody at Calabar Mgb could go, and it’s quite a large body, we had the agony of choice, but we managed to put together some of the best, from our point of view. And we are happy that the consumer reports from Paris were quite favorable.

Links

Abaku on AfroCubaWeb

Cuban Abaku fueling a resurgence of traditional Ekpe culture in Cross River Delta, Nigeria - Statement by ‘Iberedem’ Fred Eno Essien, ‘Ukai’ of Ibibioland, and prominent Ekpe leader from Uruan, 1/08  Chief Ekpenyong Eyo Honesty Eyo II, reflects upon the impact that knowledge of Cubban Abakua is having upon Ekpe leaders of the Cross River region, 1/08  Chief Ekong Imona reflects upon the impact of the Cubans in Calabar, 2/08

 

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