…Says Both LGAs Should Have Ten Wards Each
The government of Cross River State has called on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to comply with the judgement of the Supreme Court which directed the electoral body to delineate political wards in Bakassi.
In a document sighted by our reporter and signed by the Attorney General /Commissioner for Justice, Joseph O.Abang, government said “as the Supreme Court rightly counselled, INEC needs to activate its powers under Sections 112, 113 and 114 of the 1999 Constitution and as a matter of urgency do the needful so that the people of Bakassi do not continue to lose their right to political representation.”
The government argued that the Supreme Court judgment implies that Law No 7 of 2007 as passed by the State House of Assembly was valid, and that the Court also recognised the powers of section 112, 113 and 114 of the constitution which vest in INEC the powers and authority to create, alter or review State constituencies.
It insisted that if what INEC did in recognising Dayspring 1&2 only as Bakassi was legally acceptable, the Apex Court would not have directed the umpire to delineate wards in Bakassi, and therefore submitted that both Akpabuyo and Bakassi should benefit from the delineation exercise.
“If the Supreme Court believed that INEC had already carried out its responsibilities as provided under the constitution, then there would have been no need for the above counsel…It is our considered opinion that since Law No 7 of 2007 altered both the boundaries of Akpabuyo and Bakassi local government areas, the delineation needs to take place in both local government areas bearing in mind the provisions of Section 91 of the Constitution.,” Abang stated.
When contacted, member representing Bakassi in the House of Assembly, Hon (Dr) Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, said the State government was doing the right thing in calling on INEC to rise up to its duties in line with the judgement.
“The position of the Ministry of Justice is welcome. That Law No 7 passed by the State House of Assembly has been upheld by the Supreme Court is a position which all authorities must recognise and comply with.
“I believe this is the end of unnecessary controversies about the matter. The judgment is very clear and I do not see INEC not complying. They have to delineate both Akpabuyo and Bakassi for both to have ten wards each as was before the ceding. Even though I know that INEC is a law abiding establishment, I use this opportunity to urge them to speedily rise to the occasion. The earlier they do it, the better for the people of both council areas,” he stated.
Another respondent who gave his name as James Ita belived that it is justifiable for Akpabuyo to also benefit from the delineation exercise so as to restore its political wards to the original ten wards and Bakassi’s ten wards also restored accordingly.
Investigations indicated that the Bakassi council area has only three wards which was cut off from Akpabuyo through legal instrument of the State House of Assembly but even at that, votes cast in the area were counted for Akpabuyo prior to the judgement while INEC had recognised the tiny Dayspring settlement with less than 2000 voters as Bakassi.