The last has not been heard about the judgement of the Supreme Court which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delineate political wards in Bakassi.
In line with the court judgement, the government of Cross River State wants INEC to comply with it.
To some, the judgement stirred greater controversy, while to others it is confusing and ambiguous, with both sides to the matter claiming victory after the Supreme Court ruling. But what is now paramount is that the state government wants the decision of the court which is sacrosanct to be implemented without delay as elections are fast approaching.
The council area has only three wards which were carved out of Akpabuyo legally through the enactment of the State House of Assembly. However, prior to the judgment, votes cast in the area were for Akpabuyo, while INEC had recognised Dayspring settlement with less than 2000 eligible voters as Bakassi.
According to a document signed by the Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice, Joseph O. Abang, the government said “as the Supreme Court rightly counseled, INEC needs to activate its powers under Sections 112, 113 and 114 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and as a matter of urgency do the needful so that the people of Bakassi do not continue to lose their right to political representation.”
The state government also said the Supreme Court judgment implies that Law No.7 of 2007 as passed by the State House of Assembly was valid, and that the court also recognised the powers embedded in sections 112, 113 and 114 of the Constitution which vests in INEC the powers and authority to create, alter or review state constituencies.
The government further stated that if what INEC did in recognising Dayspring 1 & 2 was legally acceptable, the Supreme Court would not have directed INEC to delineate wards in Bakassi.
It, therefore, demanded that both Akpabuyo and Bakassi should benefit from the delineation exercise.
“If the Supreme Court believed that INEC had already carried out its responsibilities as provided under the constitution, then there would have been no need for the above counsel. It is our considered opinion that since Law No. 7 of 2007 altered both the boundaries of Akpabuyo and Bakassi local government areas, the delineation needs to take place in both local government areas bearing in mind the provisions of Section 91 of the Constitution,” Abang stated.
The member representing Bakassi in the House of Assembly, Hon (Dr) Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, said the state government was doing the right thing by calling on INEC to comply with the judgement.
“The position of the ministry of justice is welcome. That Law No. 7 passed by the state house of assembly has been upheld by the Supreme Court is a position which all authorities must recognise and comply with.
“I believe this is the end of unnecessary controversies about the matter. The judgment is very clear and I do not see INEC not complying. They have to delineate both Akpabuyo and Bakassi for both to have ten wards each as it was before the ceding. Even though I know that INEC is a law abiding establishment, I use this opportunity to urge them to speedily rise to the occasion. The earlier they do it, the better for the people of both council areas,” he said.