Joe Effiong, Uyo
Two days to the expiration of tenure of the current state legislatures countrywide, a federal high court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and presided over by the Justice Fatun Riman, has sacked all former PDP members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly who defected to APC late last year.
Five members of the State House of Assembly – Nse Ntuen, Otobong Ndem, Idongesit Ituen, Victor Udofia anf Gabriel Tobi, representing Essien Udim, Mkpat Enin, Itu, Ikono and Etim Ekpo/Ika state constituencies, respectively – had, while defecting to the APC, approached the federal high court seeking protection against their seats being declared vacant.
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Their seats were however declared vacant by the speake, Mr Onofiok Luke, even as the House filed counter claims at the court. The affected members, led by Ntuen, however, formed a faction and appointed Ntuen as their speaker – a situation that led to the disruption of plenary, and the declaring all other members of the House, including the speaker, suspended.
With this court judgment, the affected lawmakers have lost their entitlements from the day their seats were declared vacant.
Reacting to the judgment of the Federal High Court, the state chapter of the PDP, in a press conference in Uyo on Monday, applauded the court decision.
Speaking through its publicity secretary, Mr Ini Ememobong, the PDP commended the House Speaker for maintaining a calm and peaceful disposition during the crisism maintaining that the party and the House of Assembly would follow through any level of appeal to which former members would take the case.
“All five cases instituted by these sacked lawmakers were premised on several falsehoods, ranging from the claim that the coalition entered into by the PDP with other parties was a merger, to the fact that the sacked lawmakers, like their master, were summarily expelled from the party,” the state PDP stated.
“It can be recalled that these same lawmakers, with the active backing of their Warsaw general and party, created a ‘House of Comedy’, wherein they claimed to have impeached the legitimate Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke, and declared one Nse Ntuen speaker.
“This illegality, which was premised on distasteful lies was vehemently supported by the State Chairman of the APC, who validated the said impeachment and recognised the Speaker of the ‘House of Comedy’ as the new Speaker of the House of Assembly. Today, like it is with all falsehoods, a Daniel has come to judgement and the truth has been revealed.
“If there is any honour left in the APC and her leaders, their reaction should be to unreservedly apologise to Akwa Ibom people and the entire world for the needless show of shame that they brazenly brought upon us, and the unnecessary strain cum pressure on the polity. But by experience and observation, no reasonable person is expectant of such courtesy from the band of unprincipled fellows who currently lead the broom wielding movement,” said the PDP in a sharp rebuke.
Recalling what it described as ‘the many lies of the Akwa Ibom APC’, the PDP accused the APC of preserving a long thread of lies “disingenuously sewn and shamelessly hawked by this political amalgam, ranging from the mysterious bullet in Obong Nsima Ekere’s bedroom, the denial of the leaked audio conversation between the APC governorship candidate and a militant general, to the conscious misrepresentation of an armed robbery attack on a former governor’s aide, as a PDP sponsored assassination attempt among many other tissues of transparent lies.”
The PDP added that “no amount of media, spiritual and even, physical attack would deter anybody from the exercise of their duties and the unending quest for truth.
“In all the defence put out by Mr Okopido and his band of wailers, none has answered the pertinent question of fact which is: was Chief Godswill Akpabio expelled from the PDP?’
“No amount of threats will erase this question on the minds of right-thinking persons. Today the judgement of the court has answered the question of law, which is: assuming, but not conceding, that Sen. Godswill Akpabio was expelled, was that a legal justification to defect (what he calls movement)?”, the PDP mused.