I’m Still the Muri Munene – Effiong Mbukpa
story by crossriverwatch
There was palpable tension in Calabar South Local Government this morning. Crossriverwatch gathered that the scheduled re-election of the Muri Munene of the Efuts today has left the two factions contesting for the throne at each other’s throat.
While state government officials are singing discordant tunes about whether the Imoke government approved the decision to re-elect another Muri Munene or not, crossriverwatch gathered that five of the eight Muris that were directed to report at the Muri Munene’s palace for the re-election today arrived this morning as scheduled but the other three, loyal to the reigning Muri Munene, Effiong Mbuka did not show up.
The five Muris who are said to be the elements that where suspended by the Late Muri Munene for unwholesome activities could not gain access to the palace where the selection is traditionally held.
crossriverwatch investigations reveal that the palace which has been under lock and key since May 2012 after it was invaded and vandalized by forces loyal to the Deputy Governor and the Chairman, Cross River State Council of Traditional Rulers, Etim Okon Edet, has since then not been opened.
It was also gathered that the Security Adviser to the Governor, Mr. Bassey Rekpene ensured that the palace remained locked this morning to forestall a break down of law and order that may arise from the planned imposition.
Hon. John Eyikwaje, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Chieftaincy and his faction of Muris where said to have suddenly changed the venue of the purported re-election to the Calabar South Local Government Secretariat.
As at the time of filling this report, the five Muris that were allegedly suspended for unwholesome activities by the deceased paramount ruler, were said to be held up in a closed door meeting in the Calabar Local Government Council Chambers along with Hon. Eyikwaje and the Council Chairman Mr. Ekeng Henshaw. crossriverwatch gathered that the faction purportedly elected Prof. Itam Hogan Itam as the new Muri Munene of the Efuts.
A Source close to Prof. Itam Hogan Itam who is said to be the candidate of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Effiok Cobham,the Chairman of the Cross River State Council of Traditional Leaders, Chief Etim Okon Edet and their faction told crossriverwatch that “we will not rest until that impostor is deposed. Mbukpa must stop parading himself as the Muri Munene of this kingdom. Whoever is trying to frustrate our efforts at installing a king by denying us access to the palace will fail. what we wanted to do has been achieved. Prof Itam is the new Muri Munene of the Efuts”.
Crossriverwatch yesterday, exclusively obtained and published a letter to eight Muris (kingmakers)signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. John A. Eyikwaje and referenced DCA/CRF/F/10/CS/V.V/72. In the letter, the eight Muris 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” read: “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”.
But Governor Imoke’s spokesman yesterday told crossriverwatch that the governor has held several meetings with the feuding parties and appealed to them to amicably resolve their crises. He said the state government does not elect the Muri Munene and wondered why anyone will associate the governor’s name with the purported re-election that took place today.
But when crossriverwatch sought the opinion of the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Attah Ochinke, he told us that “Governor Liyel Imoke personally gave the approval for filling the vacant seat of the Muri Munene. And this is the first of such approval from the Governor”.
When asked why the state government has failed to release the report of the Dr. Ambrose Akpanika’s Panel that the state government set up to investigate the crises, the Attorney General said: “Effiong Mbukpa had already gone to court to challenge the jurisdiction of the panel. He openly challenged the composition and authority of the panel and did proceed to court. So he cannot now be asking for the report of that panel”. On why the government got involved with the election of the Muri Munene, the AG said “government did not get involved. We only supervised”
But crossriverwatch can authoritative report that Effiong Mbukpa did withdraw his case against the Panel of Inquiry from court and attended all the sittings of that panel and presented evidence to the panel. Privilege sources also told crossriverwatch that the report of the panel advised government expressly to recognise Effiong Mbukpa as the Muri Munene of the Efuts. The Governor had also visited, recognised and addressed Effiong Mbukpa as the Muri Munene of the Efuts.
In a telephone chart with Ndabo Godwin Bassey, Secretary of the Efut People’s Assembly, he told crossriverwatch that “we have a substantive King in this kingdom. I don’t know what those who are talking about election are referring to. Besides the matter is in court, I should not be talking about it”.
Effiom Mbukpa also told crossriverwatch on telephone that “I am still the Muri Munene of the Efuts. The Muri Munene of the Efuts has never being elected in the council secretariat. That ritual is only done in the palace. Why didn’t those who claim to have elected a new Muri Munene go to the palace where it is traditionally done to do it? What happened at the council is an exercise in futility”
A family member of Effiong Mbukpa said “it is surprising how government that is supposed to maintain law and order is fomenting trouble. In one breathe government is saying they did not give approval, in another, we are seeing the hand of government in all that is happening. If Imoke thinks he can keep hiding his head over this matter, we shall see. If he wants to instigate crises in Calabar South, he will live to see the crises whether as governor or out of office. God is watching”.
All attempts to reach Etim Okon Edet were unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report because all our calls to his phone number were not connecting.
The protracted crises over who occupies the throne of the Muri Munene of the Efuts has seen so many turns
including an incident early this year where some young men suspected to be hired thugs sponsored by one of the contestants of the throne had set Anantigha part of Calabar on fire as they invaded the palace and beat up Muri Effiong Mbukpa who was then the Muri Munene-elect, and uncapped him, took away his cell phones, and documents and destroyed the royal stool.
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