By John Ighodaro
CALABARâ€”The protracted legal tussle over the traditional Efik stool of the Obong of Calabar suffered a setback Wednesday when defendants failed to appear in court.
All the parties involved had earlier agreed to a three-day accelerated hearing at Ogoja High Court where the trial judge, Justice Eyo Effiom Ita, had been transferred to.
The accelerated hearing had been prescribed to bring the lingering matter to an end butÂ was frustrated when the defendants failed to turn up.
When the matter was mentioned at the Ogoja High Court, the defendants which include the Obong, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, the Cross River State government, the Etubom traditional council, their counsel, Chief Rotimi Williams (jnr), Mr. Ukpong Eba and others were absent.
However, as the mater was called, the lead counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Joe Agi, the plaintiff, Etubom Anthony Ani, and others were present.
Agi expressed surprise that the defendantsâ€™ counsel and his clients were absent in court, saying they had earlier agreed that they would be in court on Wednesday for an accelerated hearing of the case.
He, however, pleaded that the court should issue a formal hearing notice to both parties on an agreed date for the hearing.
While adjourning the matter tentatively to 19 to 21 May for an accelerated hearing, Justice Ita ordered that â€œhearing notice be served on the defendants and all parties should write to the court on an agreed date.â€
The former Minister of Finance, Etubom Ani, had won the first and second round of his legal battle to capture the Obong stool.
In April 2008, Etubom Ani and Ufok Ikot Nkpor instituted a case against the Obong and challenged the installation of Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V as the Obong of Calabar, being the verdict of the Etubomsâ€™ Council.