Award Gate: Obudu LG Chair on Collision Course With State PDP Chair as Group Petition EFCC
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Award Gate: Obudu LG Chair on Collision Course With State PDP Chair as Group Petition EFCC

Ntufam John Okon Chairman, PDP Cross River State
Ntufam John Okon Chairman, PDP Cross River State
Ntufam John Okon
Chairman, PDP
Cross River State

by crossriverwatch admin

The political crises rocking Obudu Local Government is pitching the Chairman of the Council, Hon. Emmanuel Ikwen against the Cross River State Chairman of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP.

Crossriverwatch gathered that the refusal of the Obudu Legislative Council to reinstate the impeached Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Martin Orim is not going down well with the leadership of the party in Calabar who have threatened to come down hard on the Chairman.

Hon. Martin Orim was on March 7, 2013 impeached by eight of the ten councilors on sundry allegations that the former Deputy Leader denied.

But in a swift reaction from the Cross River State Chairman of PDP, Ntufam John Okon, the party ordered the reinstatement of the impeached majority leader.

Ntufam Okon was quoted as saying “No, that is a joke. They are just playing their local politics. We have told everyone that if there is any problem or complain about any of our elected or appointed officers, the matter must be brought to our notice and we will present it before the Leader of the party who is the governor before any disciplinary action can be taken against anyone.

“If we allow everyone to go on and do what they like in this manner, the party will be in disarray. There was no impeachment anywhere. The party will take appropriate action and make sure the status quo is restored. They have tried it before in that Obudu when they claimed to have impeached the Chief Whip of that same House and we made it clear that cannot happen. So it is a joke”.

The Chairman told crossriverwatch that he has directed the Chairman of the Council and the Leader of the House to ensure that Hon. Orim was reinstated to his position pending the exhaustion of all internal disputes resolutions mechanisms within the party.

But this directive was disregarded. Sources in the Chairman’s camp say the party leadership in Calabar cannot intervene in what is purely the internal affair of the legislative council. They accused the party Chairman of pandering to the interest of a political big wig from Obudu.

Crossriverwatch reliably gathered that the party summoned members of the executive and legislative arms of the council to a meeting which held in Calabar on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, to resolve the impasse.

But on getting notice of the meeting the Council Chairman, crossriverwatch gathered, quickly scheduled a meeting with the Councilors in his House where they were directed to resist any attempt by the party leadership in Calabar to pressurize them to reverse the impeachment.

A member of the delegation to the Tuesday meeting told crossriverwatch that, “the party still directed that the Hon. Orim should be reinstated but it looks like the Chairman is still bent on disobeying that directive”.

One of the Councilors who spoke to crossriverwatch in confidence said: “The Chairman has banned us from talking to crossriverwatch or any other media. But if you ask me, Hon. Martin is the person that has been protecting this same Chairman all these years in the House.

“Martin will not even allow you say anything before he will jump up to defend the Chairman. Any time they want to do bad thing or share money that they don’t want the rest of us to know, it is Martin and Chairman but now I think it was their personal problem that made the Chairman to ask us to remove him.”

While talking to crossriverwatch on the phone today, from London where he is on a brief visit, Ntufam John Okon said that “We have directed them to go and reinstate the Deputy Leader. I don’t think there is any problem about that again. We are having elections ahead of us now and we don’t want any distraction and I think the Chairman knows the task that lies ahead for us. We cannot afford any distraction now”.

But one of the Chairman’s aides also told crossriverwatch that “All those directives will not walk. This is an internal affair of the Obudu legislature. The State Chairman should stay away. Hon. Orim remains impeached till the end of the remaining months of this tenure and nothing will happen”.

Meanwhile, the Obudu Professionals in Lagos (OPiL), have also directed their lawyer, Barr. Obono Obla to write to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to investigate Mr. Emmanuel Ikwen, the Executive Chairman of Obudu Local Government and all Members of Obudu Legislative Council to ascertain their culpability or otherwise in the Obudu Awardgate saga.

Chairman of the group, Mr. Utsu Atsu told crossriverwatch today in Lagos that “We have waited in vain in the hope that the people we have entrusted with leadership in Obudu will give us explanations as to what happened to our N6m which we have confirmed was withdrawn by the Chairman to procure a personal award and the fact that Councilors asked for bribe to approve that illegality.

“But these people have taken us for granted and rather than give us explanations and punishing those who have breached the laws, what we are hearing is impeachment and reinstatement of persons for personal reasons.

“We have done our investigations thoroughly with the Bank involved, officials of the council and members of the legislative chambers and we have gathered enough materials to convince us that these crop of leaders all have questions to answer.

“We have written and sent same materials to Barr. Obono Obla to further write a petition on our behalf to the Economic and Financial Commission, to investigate the culpability or otherwise of the Chairman and his cohorts in the House in the Obudu Awardgate”.

Part of the documents obtained by crossriverwatch also show that apart from the N6m award gate, the group wants the EFCC to investigate the source of the N1m Christmas largesse that the chairman gave to Councilors as well as a N4.5m loan that was also collected by the Chairman from the First Bank Obudu branch on Thursday November 15, 2012.

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