Press Statement By The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly On The Ousted Members

As you are probably aware, there were unholy attempts today, Monday, 19th November to prevent honourable members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly from performing their official functions. Miscreants and hoodlums were recruited and transported to the Assembly premises to disrupt the sitting of honourable members of the Akwa Ibom state House of assembly. The hoodlums were suspected to be loyal to an ousted former member of the house and following his directives and command, the hoodlums attempted to invade the chambers of the assembly while members were holding a special commemorative sitting in honour of our revered former Governor, His Excellency, Arch. Obong Victor Attah.

The 6th assembly observes sadly, that leading those thugs was a former lawmaker, Hon Idongesit Ituen who represented Itu State Constituency and who should understand that laws are meant to be respected and that discontents can better be expressed through the court of law. We should be reminded that it was the said former member who took out an action in the Federal High Court to restrain the Rt. Hon. Speaker from declaring his seat vacant following his defection from the party that brought him to office to another party. His claim failed in court but the counter claim of the Speaker succeeded and the court ordered the Speaker to declare his seat vacant. As a lawyer, a law maker and a law abiding citizen, Mr Speaker accordingly gave effect to the court order. It is therefore preposterous that the same person who took out an action in court could resort to self help when the judgment of the court went against him. The honourable and civilised thing to do is to appeal against that judgment. For the avoidance of doubt such an appeal does not serve as a stay of execution same not being an election petition.

It is important to state that the decision of the house to declare vacant, seats of members who had defected to other parties, was in line with constitutional provisions as captured in Section 109 (1)g of the 1999 constitution as amended and given legal interpretation in decided cases including the very recent case of IDONGESIT ITUEN V. SPEAKER AKHA. In the specific case of Itu state constituency seat, the speaker merely followed an order of court which was served on him by the Federal High Court demanding the immediate declaration of that seat vacant.

Furthermore, we are informed that the former member of Essien Udim state constituency with two other ousted members unlawfully broke into the chambers after the close of plenary to announce himself the new Speaker of AKHA. This is clearly an illegality unbecoming of former honourable members. A close view of the video of their purported sitting that has now gone viral betrays their level of frustration and ignorance of parliamentary rules and conventions.

It is important to state that what happened today bears grave consequences for the sanctity of the house and the legislative arm of government which remains the undisputed symbol of our democracy. The absolute disregard for decency and the rule of law stands condemned by members of the 6th assembly and we will employ every legal means to ensure that decorum remains the guiding principle of the state legislature under the leadership of the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Barr Onofiok Luke.

While we appreciate the efforts of the security agencies to contain the embarrassing situation of today, members of the Assembly are urging them to do more to remain on the side of the law as there are insinuations of the police lending tacit support to our former colleagues. The peace of the state can be better guaranteed by the nonpartisanship of the security agencies. We are happy that the Commissioner of Police Mr John Abang has assured of the safety of the state assembly and other institutions of government in the state.

Rt. Hon. Ime Basy Okon
Chairman, Commitee on Information AKHA.