The crisis arising from the expulsion of five members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has raised the political tempo in the state to feverish levels.
Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, Chairman Cross River Basin Development Authority and spokesman of the APC Governorship Campaign and the State commissioner for information, Mr. Charles Udoh in separate interviews respond to the developments. Excerpts:
By Harris Emmanuel & Chioma Onuegbu
On the crisis in the state House of Assembly?
This delinquency arose from the poor perception of the constitutional provisions of the separation of powers. In separation of powers, the executive, and the legislature, and off course the judiciary have well spelt out rules, responsibilities and functions and the same law have made provision that under the rule of law no man should be unjustly treated.
Last year, one Hon. Asuquo Archibong representing Urue Offiong/Oruko State constituency defected from APC to PDP and he is still there in the State House of Assembly and the provisions of the constitution as canvassed by the Speaker of the Assembly on the matter was wrong. That provision has sub sections which he refused to mention.
Defection must be at the instance of crisis in the party at the national level, but there was none in APC when Hon. Archibong defected to PDP. But today in an event of a merger which is an outcome of a process, PDP went into memorandum of understanding with other political parties which called themselves CUPP.
That MoU is a process which led to a merger. So if a member of PDP feels that his party has compromised its principles and those that attracted him to the party then he is obliged to defect to a party of his choice. In this case those gentlemen decided to defect in principle. They defected because PDP is in the process of merging with other parties with a name called CUPP which we all know.
So, the speaker therefore has no moral standing or constitutional backing to now rely on Section 109 of the Constitution as the basis for the delinquent act. It must also be noted that the actions took place when lawyers of the plaintiff and defendant were all arguing a motion for a stay of execution in the court, meaning that he was aware of the pendency of the motion for a stay of execution which he was served and shouldn’t have feigned ignorance of it.
His actions are unbecoming of the position of the speaker or an institution like the legislature in a democracy as reformed as ours. The decision may have been taken for personal aggrandizement or to please the pay masters. In Akwa Ibom State, it is difficult to know the difference between the executive and the legislature. What happened to the autonomy as recognized by the 1999 constitution as amended from being implemented here? If not so, can we say there is separation of powers here?.
The federal high court gave a judgment and the expelled lawmaker Hon. Idongesit Ituen has a right to appeal. The basis of that right is what Governor Udom Emmanuel exercised when the Court of Appeal removed him as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2016.
But APC as a responsible party obliged him the opportunity to go to the Apex Court to exhaust his constitutional right which he went. For Senator Bassey Albert, the federal high court removed him from the Senate, but the man Bassey Etim which was declared winner was not sworn into office because of constitutional provisions and application of the rule of law. Both Governor Emmanuel and Senator Albert went through the process of Appeal to the apex court and got their victories. So why are they in a hurry in this particular case.
The hurry simply is that by the spirit and conscience of men, APC has the majority of men in the State Assembly. They only want to intimidate and stampede those who wanted to defect to where democracy is flourishing because the APC content and programme remains the best till date. The action was to forestall further defection to APC by these gentlemen with good conscience.
On Governor’s intervention in the House crisis?
I have said clearly that the governor should respect the separation of powers and Mr. Speaker should separate activism from legislative responsibilities. He should be guided by the procedures in the legislative activities. I have said about conventions and precedence if he does reverse himself people will take that to be the correct thing but it was not the right thing in this case. So if he could do all that even with the pendency of the matter in court then the other group has the right to elect a speaker too.
The PDP is playing up federal might sentiment because they know APC is wining this state. Those who reside in this state know that APC has population, strength, capacity and strategy and indeed they are wining .