By: VITALI UGOH, Calabar
The Efut kingdom of Cross River State has debunked media reports which purportedly said that the kingdom does not have a legitimate king, traditionally known as ‘Muri Munene’.
A press statement, signed by the Secretary General of the Efut Combined Assembly, Ndabu Godwin Bassey and made available to the media said “Efuts insisted that apart from the formal selection and proclamation of Muri Effiong Okokon Mbukpa as Munene in 2009, shortly after the demise of the late Munene Ita Okokon Ekpenyong, several court cases over the matter had been decided in favour of Mbukpa”.
The statement explained that a contender, Prof Itam Hogan Itam, had refused to be part of the contest for the throne due to his appointment as at that time with the federal government, even though the position was initially zoned to Ukem, Prof Itam’s clan.
It averred that Itam became interested in the throne in 2012, three years after Mbukpa was duly crowned as Munene.
The statement which quoted judgement/rulings of many court cases in its favour, read in part l, “the attention of the Efut Combined Assembly, which is the apex decision making body of the Efut ruling and ancestral clans, has been drawn to a publication on a national daily, titled ‘Efut – Calabar Kingdom without a King.“
“On the 13th of November, 2009, Prof Itam Hogan Itam, declined the contest to the throne of the Muri Munene and on the 25th day of November, Prof Itam and other dissident Muris, illegally proclaimed Muri Ita Okokon Mesembe of Efut Ibonda as their preferred choice without recourse to the Efut Combined Assembly”.
“That in suit No HC/304/2011, Muri Ita Okokon Mesembe applied to withdraw from the contest of Muri Muneneship and that the matter was struck out as applied for.
“That an interim injunction was granted by the learned Justice Okoi Ikpi Itam on the fifth of April 2012, restraining Prof Itam Ogan Itam from parading himself as the Muri Munene of the Efut and Paramount Ruler of Efut nation pending the hearing of the motion”.
“The ruling in suit No: HC/199/2013, delivered on the 14th day of March 2018 by the learned Justice Edem Koofreh, dismissed the rejoinder of Prof Itam Hogan Itam as the Muri Munene of the Efuts for being an abuse of court process, noting however that there can only be one Muri Munene at any given time and that Efiong Okokon Mbukpa was joined as Muri Munene in the said matter without opposition from both parties”.
“That the Efut Kingdom has one legitimate recognised Muri Munene via court judgement – suit no CA/C/111/2012, which clearly and expeditiously declared His Royal Majesty Efiong Okokon Mbukpa V11 as the Munene of the Efut kingdom.”
Our reporter gathered that the crisis among the Efut people has been on since 2009, and that the then governor, Liyel Imoke, at various fora, recognised Mbukpa as the ruler of the Efut”.
It was further gathered that three years after Mbukpa’s proclamation as Munene, government, through the then Special Adviser to the Governor on Chieftaincy Affairs, John Eyikwaje, organised another selection ceremony for the stool through which Hogan was said to have emerged in spite of a pending court order. Since then, the stalemate had continued.