By Ogar Monday/Lucky Edet
Some political leaders from Bakassi Local Government Area have praised the Supreme Court, calling it the “hope of the common man” following it’s judgment compelling INEC to delineate Bakassi Local Government and recognize Law no.7 of Cross River State.
The leaders who spoke to CrossRiverWatch separately called on the Federal Government to immediately remove Barrister Mike Igini the former Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Cross River State, accusing him of compromise.
Speaking, Hon. Joe Etene, former member of the Cross River State House of Assembly, and litigant stated that the decision not to delineate Bakassi was “to push out the natives of Ikang from the political scene and they found an ally in a very ignorant Electoral Commissioner in the person of Mike Igini”.
He added that Igini had “perpetrated fraud” by depriving Bakassi of votes that accrued to them and holding elections in inhabitable places.
Also speaking, the Member representing Bakassi in the State Assembly, Hon. Ekpo Ekpo Bassey revealed that “the tussle started with the ceding of Bakassi peninsula and with the Cross River House of Assembly enacting Law no.7 adjusting the boundary between Akpabuyo and Bakassi to create 10 wards from the existing 3 wards of Ikang.”
Hon. Ekpo Ekpo added that “INEC with the interest that the Commissioner had at the time followed some self-seeking leaders to a place they called Dayspring, a place that isn’t fit for anything.”
Barrister Tutu Ekeng on phone maintained that “the said judgment is a welcomed judgment and one that we, those with interest in Bakassi have been fighting for.”
A former Chairman of Bakassi Local Government, Chief Emmanuel Etene also blamed Mike Igini and some politicians from Bakassi who he said tried to use him.
He added that “what Igini did has caused the Federal Government a lot and has robbed the people of Bakassi of their voting rights.”
Etene called for the immediate sack of Igini, arguing that “he is bound to repeat what he did in Cross River State in other States.”
On his part, Chief Ani Esin, the sitting Chairman of the LGA during the ceeding of the peninsula to Cameron said, he is happy that the judgment has been delivered bringing to a close and perhaps “burying the issue of Dayspring permanently”.
He added that “some of the politicians who stood against INEC while the struggle lasted were ostracized and punished, even by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), with some losing political opportunities.”
Chief Ani added that “all these problems will not be heaped on Barrister Mike Igini alone, there were people from Bakassi who were flaming this; Mike Igini was not alone.”
Dr. Eneyo Eyo, a Community Leader in Bakassi while speaking to this reporter, also accused the former Cross River REC, of having “vested interest, and working very hard to undermine the Cross River Government.”
He added that “Law no. 7 was not to create a new Local Government but to adjust the boundary between Akpabuyo and Bakassi.”
Hon. Stanley Etim also on phone said that leaders from Bakassi should see the judgment as an instrument for unification and they should break camps for the unity of Bakassi.
“I think enough is enough. We have been vindicated. So everybody must come under that umbrella. There have been problems left and right because of who wants to lead. Bakassi belongs to all of us. There are those who have lost their lives because of this struggle. The Supreme Court which is only second to God has given judgment in our favor. If we must work as one, we must listen to that judgment.”
Lawyer to the litigant, Barr. Ogar Sunday said “The court took the position that Law no. 7 of Cross River State House of Assembly is validly made and it’s valid and subsisting and nobody can challenge it.
“That is one. Two, that the people of Bakassi have suffered a great deal and that they don’t need to be agonized any further and INEC should as a matter of urgency, pursuant to various sections of the Constitution, which enables them to delineate Wards and State Constituencies, do that immediately in the three Wards of Ikang to enable the people of Bakassi participate fully in all elections.”
Barr. Ogar added that “What you have to understand is that, there were two factions that came to the court today. There is this faction that believes in Dayspring but Dayspring has not been mentioned in this judgment; from the High Court Judgment to Court of Appeal Judgment to the Supreme Court. There is nothing like Dayspring.”