The ongoing power tussle over the Obong of Calabar stool has climaxed as stern-looking policemen have barricaded the Cross River State Traditional Rulers’ Council Of Chiefs chambers, next to Governor’s Office.
The mean-looking officers are alleged to be barricading the entrance from being accessed by the claimant to the Efik throne, Etubom Anthony Ani, a former minister of finance.
Ani was a minister under the late General Sani Abacha’s government.
Some 18 paramount rulers from the 18 LGAs who arrived at the place for the endorsement of Etubom Ani as Obong of Calabar-elect were also prevented from accessing the venue.
Etubom Ani, who was proclaimed the Obong of Calabar-elect by his own camp, was scheduled to be received by the chairman of the state Traditional Rulers Council, Etenyin Etim Okon Edet alongside other 17 paramount rulers in the state in the council chambers on Friday morning.
But armed policemen arrived much earlier and cordoned off the main entrance, barring even government workers from accessing their different offices in the adjacent Ministry of Finance complex.
They refused to give any reasons for blocking the ex-minister.
Sources close to the state governor, however, volunteered that if the event was allowed to hold it would mean that the state government has taken sides and formally endorsed Etubom Ani.
One source confirmed that even the press conference’ that Etubom Ani had earlier arranged to hold, as well as his proposed trips to all the paramount rulers in their domains, have also been put on hold.
Since last week, two communities in Odukpani LGA where Ani hails, including Adiabo Ikoneto and Esin Ufot Ikot Offiong have lavishly been hosted in Ani’s palatial home near Governor Bassey Otu’s new office.
Ani has vehemently insisted that he is the legally recognized Obong of Calabar, having ‘won’ cases to that effect at the High Court, Appeal and Supreme Court regarding the 15-year-old tussle and adhered to directives of the apex court.