Symbol of Justice
Jude Okwe in Calabar
The controversy over who is the authentic Muri Munene (paramount ruler) of Efut Kingdom and Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River State may have been laid to rest as a Calabar High Court has ruled that Muri Effiong Okokon Mbukpa, is the duly elected and recognised monarch of the third largest ethnic group in Calabar.
Two traditional rulers, Prof. Itam Hogan and Effiong Okokon Mbukpa, are in contention for the stool which the court ruled is not vacant.
Both candidates have been laying claims to seat following the recent proclamation of Hogan by a faction of the kingmakers as the new Muri Munene-elect.
But Justice Obojor Ogar ruled in suit no. HC/124/2011 that “the first defendant (Effiong Mbukpa) is acclaimed Muri Munene of Efut and has been so proclaimed on the 16th day of November 2009.’’
The judge also noted that ‘’he has carried out the functions of office like his predecessors,’’ adding that the “second defendant tried to challenge him and the suit was struck out in suit no. HC/ 373/2009.’’
The court further noted that in his capacity as the Muri Munene, Effiong Okokon Mbukpa has been performing the functions of his office including the endorsement of documents concerning alienation of land.
‘’I have no reason to doubt that any of these assertions. Indeed I had noted earlier in this judgment said the Muri Munene, who is also the grand patriarch of the Efut nation is the one who endorses documents of transfer of Efut land .
‘’If the first defendant is the acclaimed Muri Munene of Efut Kingdom, then it will not be out of place for him to endorse transfer documents of land for himself and on behalf of Efut Abua and Efut Ekondo combined council. And this will in the spirit of the judgment of C/58/53.
‘’In conclusion, I find and hold that the claimants failed to make out a case for, and grant of any of the reliefs sought in the originating summons. The claim therefore will be and is hereby dismissed’’, the judgment stated.
Chairman of Efut Combined Assembly, Ndabo Obo E. Obo, in an interview, said there can never be two Muri Munenes on the throne of Efut Kingdom at the same hence the purported selection of Muri Hogan was null and void and a failed attempt to denigrate the revered Efut stool.
He called on Governor Liyel Imoke to sack his aide on Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. John Eyikwaje, for convening a meeting on September 21, 2012 where ‘’he conducted the naming of Prof. Hogan as Muri Munene. None of those who participated in the ceremony is traditionally qualified. Some are even on suspension.’’