By Frank Edima/Philip Agba
The people of Bakassi and Akpabuyo Local Government met recently in a townhall meeting to discuss and take further action on the recent Supreme Court Judgment which ordered INEC to delineate Bakassi LGA.
These town hall meeting was organized by Nka Ufori Ye Nsongonda Efik Efut ye Abakpa, an indigenous group in collaboration with Me Africa Advocacy Group (MAAG).
The Chairman of the event and former Member representing Akpabuyo/Calabar South/Bakassi Federal Constituency; Dr. Patrick Ene Okon said the meeting sought to discuss the Supreme Court’s validation of Law No.7 of Cross River State and its advice to INEC to “do the needful.”
The Keynote Speaker, former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice; Barrister Eyo Ekpo stated that, given the validation of Law No.7 by the Supreme Court, it is now INEC’s place to adopt and reflect in its directory Ikang North, Ikang Central and Ikang South as the new Bakassi.
“The adjusting of Akpabuyo boundaries to accommodate Bakassi was the highest level of magnanimity, INEC should respect and obey court orders.” He said.
Dr. Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, the Member representing Bakassi in State House of Assembly also asserted that the State through Law No.7 have powers to adjust boundaries of Akpabuyo to accommodate the people of Bakassi who were displaced by the ceding of the peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon.
He also called on INEC to carry out the apex court’s advice by delineating a State Constituency for Bakassi at the three Ikang Wards spelt out by law.
Ekpo maintained that the most pressing need for the embattled area is the need for a Bakassi State Constituency, creation of seven additional wards from the aforementioned Ikang wards and another three wards for Akpabuyo to put them at ten apiece, which have been the staus quo.
He also stated that if government is not called in to intervene in imploring INEC to do the needful, the situation will remain the same, and that if Cross River State Electoral Commission is to conduct elections in those areas, it will even make the job a lot easier for INEC.
Supporting his views, Arc. Bassey Ndem; a former Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, maintained that justice for the Bakassi people was been blighted by a faction of renegades with selfish interests.
He called on all concerned to rise up to the occasion, go to INEC and ask them to do what the Supreme Court has advised them.
Speaking further, a former Commissioner for Social Welfare, Edak Ikochukwu asserted that working together to bring to the fore the implementation of the court verdict will further strengthen the coexistence of the people of Akpabuyo and Bakassi local government areas.
The town hall meeting which held at the African Club, Calabar had in attendance various stakeholders including Community leaders of Bakassi and Akpabuyo, Traditional Rulers, among others.
The town hall meeting had no representation from INEC as the group said the Cross River State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Frankland Briyai was invited but he didn’t show up and was not represented.
But the State INEC PRO, Mrs. Ann told CrossRiverWatch on phone that, “No such invitation was sent else my boss would have been present or represented, he doesn’t play with such you know.”
Recall that Justice Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court in a lead judgment delivered on Friday, 23rd February, 2018 over an appeal by INEC against representatives of Bakassi LGA, who were displaced from the original area now ceded to the Republic of Cameroon, held that the people of Bakassi had suffered enough and urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to “do the needful” by delineating areas in the council in order to ameliorate their plight.
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