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Akwa Ibom Governor disrupts sitting of factional assembly members

THE Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is embroiled in fresh crises this morning, as Governor Udom Emmanuel intervened in the legitimacy battle between APC and PDP legislators on who takes leadership of the house.

Governor Udom Emmanuel arrived at the complex of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to disrupt the sitting of five members of the All Progressives Congress, APC who were holding a plenary session.

The Governor, who came along with some members of his cabinet and security details successfully dislodged the legislators from holding their plenary session.

This development is reportedly connected with a court order declaring the seat of Idongesit Ituen, a member representing Itu State constituency vacant who defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Party (APC).

The lawmaker was sacked by a November 14 ruling of the Uyo Division of the Federal High Court.

But the court, acting on an application by Mr Ituen, later halted its earlier decision and then asked the assembly not to declare the lawmaker’s seat vacant.

The presiding judge, Fadun Riman, stated the verdict of the court, “I am satisfied that there is merit in this application (and) that an order staying the execution of the judgment of this Honourable Court delivered by Hon. Justice F. O. Riman, sitting at Federal High Court No 2, Uyo Judicial Division on the 14 November 2018, pending the hearing and determination of the Applicant’s Appeal at the Court of Appeal is hereby granted as prayed.”

Apart from Mr Ituen, the speaker, Mr Luke Onofiok, had declared vacant the seats of four other lawmakers who also defected from the PDP to the APC, even though the court was yet to rule on their cases.

The other four lawmakers are Nse Ntuen, Essien Udim State Constituency; Gabriel Toby, Etim Ekpo/Ika, Otobong Ndem, Mkpat Enin; and Victor Udofia, Ikono.

The sacked lawmakers, five of them, held their own “sitting” on Monday and, in turn, ‘removed’ Mr Luke from office as speaker, and then “elected” Mr Nse Ntuen as the new speaker.

The APC leadership in the state, while throwing its weight behind the five lawmakers, said on Wednesday it no longer recognises Mr Luke as the speaker of the assembly.

The constitution stipulates that a speaker or deputy speaker can only be removed from office by a resolution of House of Assembly by the votes of not less than two-third majority of the members of the House.

It would require the votes of 17 lawmakers, at least, of the 26 members to remove Mr Luke as the speaker of the House.

However, the factional speaker Nse Ntuen of the APC suspended Mr Luke Onofiok amongst others and also suspended all standing committees constituted illegally by the former speaker and adjourned till next week Tuesday, December 4.

Other members suspended by Ntuen are Udo Kerian Akpan, Felicia Bassey, Nse Essien, Lawrence Udofia, Usoro Akpanusoh, Ime Okon, Friday Iwok, Asuquo Archibong, Mark Esset, Emmanuel Ekpenyong, Aniekan Uko till further notice.

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