By Jonathan Ugbal
Mr. Elucate Ekom, the member representing Obubra 1 in the Cross River House of Assembly has said that he thanks God that the Nigerian Judicial system is standing up to save the country’s ailing democracy.
This comment is his reaction to an Abuja Federal High Court order directing all parties involved in a suit challenging the declaration of his seat vacant by the house leadership for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
And, Mr. Elucate has said that he wondered why the House failed to honor the courts when it was served a notice to stay put on declaring his seat vacant as it was a pending legal matter.
“In any case, you know as I do from an enlightened opinion that constitutionally if a matter of that magnitude is before a court competent jurisdiction any action relating to that matter is by law supposed to be held in abeyance pending the outcome,” Mr. Elucate told CrossRiverWatch on phone.
He continued: “We are in a country context where the rule of law is a problem and so even people who are serving in high places as lawyers for example the Speaker, they don’t have this character of rule of law obedience.
“It is so regrettable that if you have a speaker who is (a) lawyer and there is a matter in court and he has been served, he acknowledged the court processes in his office and the clerk also, and they conceded on that 14th day to go and have a plenary out of the recess, what do they want to achieve? Is it that one person that defects to a party could crumble the state? What was the intention of defect? Is that I was defecting to come and turn the state? It is not so. It is a constitutional right.”
He posited that there was a game the house was playing as the Speaker who is abreast of happenings around the country knows that no lawmaker who defected recently has been sacked.
“Only days ago, 10 members of the Kano State House of Assembly defected to PDP and they have not lost their seats. Is the Speaker of Cross River State not part of the Federation of Nigeria?
“That week I defected, 6 members of Lagos State House of Assembly defected to APC from PDP, they did not lose their seat. What offence did I commit? So these are the issues.
“Thank God, since the Judiciary are standing up to also save our democracy and for some of us who are David and not Goliath will always seek the hands of the Judiciary. And I am thankful that with the wisdom of the judiciary, there is intervention going on now,” he said.
The court order obtained by CrossRiverWatch showed that Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on August 9, 2017 ordered all parties to maintain status quo as is on August 9 which means the House resolution directing the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a bye election to replace him within 180 days despite initially denying his seat had been declared vacant.
Also, the Court gave an order for accelerated hearing with the matter to be heard again on September 18, 2017.
CrossRiverWatch Violet Fanseh contributed to this report