By Jonathan Ugbal
The Acting Chief Judge of the High Court of Cross River State, Justice Maurice Eneji has written Governor Ben Ayade seeking over N150 million to finance the activities of the Local Government Council Elections Tribunal.
The State has been without the third tier of Government since December 2016 and January 2017 for Bakassi Local Government Area. The Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC) had announced March 28, 2020 as date for the elections.
And, Eneji, in a letter dated March 18, 2020 conveyed his constitution of the Local Government Election Tribunal and the Election Appeal Tribunal.
“Following the preparations put in place by the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSSIEC), to conduct Local Government Election on the 28th March, 2020 in the State, I have as required by Sections 99 and 104 of the Local Government Law of Cross River State, 2007, constituted three panels of Local Government Election Tribunals, to sit in three Senatorial Zones of the State, as well as a Local Government Election Appeal Tribunal, to hear appeals from the Tribunals of first instance,” Eneji’s letter to Mr. Ayade read in part.
The list of the tribunals chairmen and members, as well as that of the appeal tribunal and “the proposed estimate totaling the sum of N153,709,400.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Three Million, Seven Hundred and Nine Thousand, Four Hundred Naira) only, for funding the tribunals” were attached for the Governor’s , “kind consideration and approval.”
The appeal for the funding clearly shows that contrary to the rhetoric that following President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the fourth alteration bill which granted financial autonomy to State legislatures and judiciary in 2018, the Chief Judge of Cross River still goes cap in hand for funds from the executive arm.
According to the letter, the tribunals are by virtue of Section 99 of the Cross River State local government law 2007, “To hear and determine any question as to whether any person has been validly elected under this law, or the term of office of any person has ceased, or the seat of a person in the Local Government Council has become vacant.”
The panel is as follows:
Northern Senatorial District –
1. Hon. Justice Imelda Etape – Chairman
2. Chief Magistrate V. Ebaye – Member
3. Chief Magistrate I. I. Abam – Member
Central Senatorial District-
1. Hon. Justice Emmanuel Ubua – Chairman
2. Chief Magistrate Rita Marshall – Member
3. Chief Magistrate Eunice Dada – Member
Southern Senatorial District-
1. Hon. Justice Ashu Ewa – Chairman
2. Chief Magistrate Rajunor Bassey – Member
3. Chief Magistrate Usang Omini – Member
Also, the appeal tribunal of Cross River State according to Section 104 of the Cross River State local government law 2007 is to; “To hear and determine any question as to whether any person has been validly elected under this law; or the term of office of any person has ceased, or the seat of a person in the Local Government Council has become vacant.”
The appeal tribunal members are:
1. Hon. Justice. S. M. Ajor – Chairman
2. Hon. Justice Bassey Ikpeme – Member
3. Barr. P. I. Obiem – Member
See the letter exclusively obtained by our newsroom below.
As at the time of filing this report our newsroom couldn’t verify if it was approved or still being considered by the Governor.
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