story by crossriverwatch admin
Kingmakers of Efut nation in Cross River State have rejected state government moves to impose a paramount ruler on Calabar South even when reigning paramount ruler Muri Munene Effiong Mbukpa is still on the throne.
There is a looming crisis in the relatively peaceful Calabar South Local Government Area which in recent past has been notorious for cult clashes following plans by the state government to organize fresh selection of the Muri Munene which the people said was concluded in 2009.
The state government has fixed September 21, 2012 for re-election of the Muri Munene despite the impending court case over the matter.
In a statement to crossriverwatch yesterday, the Efut Combined Assembly accused the state government of instigating crisis in Efut nation and traditional institutions in the state, claiming that the present moves of the state government was an invitation to chaos and bloodshed.
The statement said Efut Combined Assembly has told the state government that the only way conducting fresh selection process could be possible is the killing of Muri Munene Effiong Mbukpa who the kingmakers said performed all the traditional rites to bid farewell to the former monarch who had long joined his ancestors in compliance with their tradition.
Declaring that there was no vacancy in the throne of the Muri Munene, the kingmakers said that, “This vacancy was filled according to the traditions and customs of the Efut with the selection of Muri Munene Effiong Okokon Mbukpa VII and was traditionally proclaimed the Muri Munene on the 16th of November, 2009 by the Efut Combined Assembly. He has been performing the function of paramount ruler ever since”.
“Government does not conduct the selection of the Muri Munene and Paramount ruler of the Efuts. The Traditional Ruler’s Edict of Cross River State clearly exempts specifically three paramount rulers, namely; the Obong of Calabar, the Muri Munene of the Efuts and the Ndidem of the Quas from the selection procedures. Besides, it is the traditional right of the Efut Combined Assembly to select the paramount ruler of the Efuts.
“When there was a challenge to the selection of the incumbent Muri Munene Effiong Okokon Mbukpa, the government set up a panel of inquiry. Up till today the government has not made public the panel’s report nor released the white paper,” the kingmakers stated.
While demanding the release of the panel’s report and the white paper, the kingmakers said it was only one challenger that appeared before the panel and wondered why the government that had promised to obey the report of the panel could keep mute since it was submitted.
The statement which was signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Efut Combined Assembly, Ndabo Obo E. Obo and Ndabo Godwin Bassey respectively reminded the government that matters pertaining to the stool were in court and that some had been decided in favour of the sitting Muri Munene.
“It will therefore amount to sub-judice to engage in matters before the court or decided by the court. The government is hereby requested to abide by the rule of law which it had on many occasions affirmed to follow.”
The kingmakers said that it was surprising that government in the circular DCA/CRS/S/10/CS/V./72 dated September 18, 2012, recognized persons that were suspended by the late Muri Munene and some who parade themselves as Clan heads without being certificated as required by the tradition.
Crossriverwatch gathered that the Deputy Governor of the State Mr. Effiok Cobham and the chairman of the Cross River State Council of Chiefs, Etim Okon Edet are the arrow heads of the plot to unseat the reigning Muri Munene.
The duo are said to have organized a mob earlier in the year that went to the palace wielding dangerous weapons, shooting sporadically in the air while the touts that came in the state Department of Public Transportation DOPT vehicles were smoking Indian hemp indiscriminately and even pulled the royal cap of the Muri Munene in what some of the kingmakers said was an attempt to kill the paramount ruler and pave way for their planned imposition.
Residents within the palace told crossriverwatch that it was the intervention of the Special Adviser on Security to the Governor Mr. Bassey Rekpeme that saved the life of the Muri Munene. He was said to have rushed to the scene that day in company of the Commander of NNS Victory, Navy Commodore Kingdom Itoko and a contingent of security operatives to prevent an ugly situation.
The kingmakers and keen observers of the events are wondering why the state government was in a hurry to re-elect a new king tomorrow when the matter is pending before a court of law.
When crossriverwatch sought to hear the position of Mr. Bassey Rekpeme on the matter, he simply told us “I have no comment on the issue please” and cut the call.
But the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Imoke, Mr. Christian Ita told crossriverwatch that “it is not true that the government is trying to create crises in Calabar South. Two people are laying claim to the throne and I am aware that the Governor has held several meetings with the feuding parties urging them to go and make peace by withdrawing the cases in court and peacefully resolve their problem”.
“The state government is not involved in the election of the Muri Munene. How then can the government organize a re-election? To the best of my knowledge, I don’t know of any election of Muri Munene coming up tomorrow. So whoever is accusing the Governor of trying to create crises is being economical with the truth.”
But in a letter to eight supposed candidates for the throne and signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. John A. Eyikwaje, obtained by crossriverwatch, the eight candidates where accordingly directed to report at the Palace of the Muri Munene of the Efuts, Anatigha by 8am on the 21st of September 2012 (tomorrow) for election to fill the vacant seat of the Muri Munene.
The one paragraph letter titled “filling the vacant seat of the Muri Munene of the Efuts” reads: “please be informed that His Excellency, the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke has given approval for the filling of the vacant seat of the Muri Munene of the Efuts in Calabar South Local Government Area. You are accordingly directed to make yourself available for this important exercise”.
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