…wades into Oku-Iboku/Ikot offiong crisis
By Mfonobong Ukpong
For failing to honour the invitation of the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has asked ITU Local Government Transition Committee Chairman, Mrs Elsie Esara to appear before it tommorrow, Wednesday 10th May, 2017 at 10:am.
The invitation followed the submission of an interim report by the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Idongesit Ntekpere on tuesday at plenary.
It would be recalled that the Assembly had recently mandated it’s Committee on Local governmet and Chieftaincy Affairs to investigate a petition forwarded to it by some members of Itu local government Transition Committee bordering on alleged financial impropriety against the Transition Chairman of Itu, Mrs Esara.
Submitting his interim report, Hon. Ntekpere informed the House that while other parties invited by the committee to give information on the matter had honoured the invitation and furnished his committee with oral statements on the matter, the Transition Chairman of ITU, Mrs Esara failed to honour the committee’s invitation, and prayed the House of Assembly to compel her to appear before the House.
Debating on the matter, members of the Assembly frowned at the attitude of the Transition Chairman, and viewed her conduct as an attempt to undermine the legislature.
Leader of the House, Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian Akpan, drew the attention of his colleagues to relevant sections of the standing orders of the House which gives the House of Assembly jurisdiction over local government councils.
“She should show cause Why an action should not be taken against her, having ignored the invitation of this honorable House”.
Deputy Leader, Rt. Hon. Ime Okon in his contribution said “section 123 of the constitution gives the House of Assembly the powers to investigate activities of local government councils”.
“Mr. Speaker, we cannot sit down here in this hallowed chamber and allow people to us for granted. Let her come here to explain why she ignored and showed intentional disrespect to the House of Assembly”
Also condemning the act, member for Essien Udim, Hon. Nse Ntuen Who is a member of the committee on local government and Chieftaincy Affairs said “Mr. Speaker i feel sad that a Transition Chairman, not elected Chairman has failed to honor our invitation. On the first day we gave the benefit of doubt for her to appear a second time, she failed to honor our invitation”.
“I agree totally that she must have to stand stand here and face Akwa Ibom people, and will face the camera”.
Deputy Speaker, Princess Felicia Bassey tendered apology to the House over her action, saying she was saddened and disappointed by the woman’s conduct.
“Iam very sad in my heart. She became Transition Chairman from the legislation passed by this House, and for her to disrespect this House including me who is a member of the committee is really sad”
member for Ibesikpo Asutan, Hon. Aniekan Uko on his part maintained “One thing i don’t like is for anybody, especially the appointees trying to subject this honourable House to any form of ridicule. She is not just appearing to answer why he snubbed the committee, but for her to come and defend the allegations leveled against her”.
“We will prove to her that this House is Supreme “, he added.
Reacting, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke directed the Clerk to communicate the decision of the House to her.
Also on Tuesday, the lingering boundary crisis between the people of Oku-Iboku in Itu local government area and the people of Ikot offiong in neighboring Cross River State, received the attention of the House of Assembly.
In a resolution passed by the House, the lawmakers mandated Governor Udom Emmanuel to ensure the increase and sustenance of security presence and patrols on land and in the affected community. The House also urged the governor to declare ITU -OMA an emergency area and subsequently direct the state Emergency Management Committee to provide relief materials.
The Assembly appealed to the National Boundary Commission to intensify dialogue between the two states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River with the view to resolving the crisis and returning peace to the community involved.
The resolution is sequel to a motion on ‘Incessant and Continuous killing of ITU people, a call for urgent action’, raised on the floor of the House by the lawmaker representing ITU State constituency, Hon Idongesit Ituen.
The Assembly man informed that the lingering crisis between Oku-Iboku, Ayadehe, Mbiabo in Itu local government area, and Odukpani and Ikot offiong communities in cross River State respectively have claimed hundreds of lives. He disclosed that properties worth billions of naira have been lost to the crisis which have engulfed the area over the years.
Hon. Ituen further hinted that economic activities in the area have been grounded as a result of the crisis, and prayed the House of Assembly to wade into the matter with a view of finding a lasting solution to the crisis.
Speaker of the House, Barr. Onofiok Luke hailed Hon. Ituen for being responsive and sensitive to the Plight of his people. He noted that the issue affects not only ITU, but the state as a whole.
The Speaker commended the efforts so far made by the governor at restoring peace in the troubled area, saying the House was appreciative of the steps he has take in that direction.
Meanwhile, the House will resume plenary today, Wednesday.