The Efut Combined Assembly, said to be the apex decision making body of the Efut kingdom, has debunked media report over who their legitimate king, traditionally known as ‘Muri Munene’ is, explaining that Muri Effiong Okokon Mbukpa was a recognized Muri Munene of the kingdom and not Prof Itam Hogan Itam, who is also laying claims to the traditional throne.
A press release, signed by the Secretary General of the body, Ndabu Godwin Bassey, dated July 28, 2018 and made available to our reporter yesterday, said the Efut is not a kingdom without a king as indicated in the said media report, adding, “the Efut Kingdom has one legitimate recognized 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.”
The release, which cited many court rulings/judgements to buttress its claims, further recalled that even though the position was zoned to Ukem clan where Prof Itam Hogan Itam hails from, the Professor had, after the demise of the late Munene Ita Okokon Ekpenyong, refused to perform the funeral rituals to qualify him for the throne with an excuse that his appointment with the federal government would not afford him time to serve Efut people as Muri Munene.
It averred that the then Muri Efiong Mbukpa stepped in to perform the rituals and that the whole Efut kingdom thereafter proclaimed and crowned Mbukpa as the new Muri Munene in accordance with the tradition of the Efut people, and that Prof Itam became interested in the throne three years after Mbukpa was duly crowned, a situation they said was unacceptable.
“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 the Sun newspaper 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, 2009, Pro Itam and other dissident Muri 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 Hogan Itam from parading himself as the Muri Munene of the Efut and Paramount Ruler of Efut nation pending the hearing of the motion.
“That 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 on 29/09/2017, the said Prof Itam Hogan Itam presided over a meeting of Odukpani Traditional Rulers Council as Chairman and the Clan Head of the Efut Ukem, Odukpani local government area, and not as Munene of the Efuts,” it stated.
The Efut Assembly further said that although the matter in dispute has reached the Supreme Court in Suit No SC/899/2018, “it has not changed the true position and status of the Efut nation” as Mbukpa remains their only traditionally recognized the Munene.