Godwin AJOM, Calabar
Despite the Calabar High Court judgement directing the Cross River State House of Assembly to release the seized allowances of the seven members of the Assembly who refused to defect to the APC, the leadership of the house has refused to pay the affected legislators as ordered by the court.
Confirming the development to our reporter in Calabar, the lawyer handling the case for the affected legislators, Enome Anatey said despite the court order, the APC lawmakers were reluctant to act in accordance with the judgement.
He said the PDP would explore other legal means to enforce the judgement. He named the lawmakers to include; Rt. Honourable Frederick Okpa Osim, Effa Esua, Friday Gabriel Ekpeshi, Itam Abang, Nelson Ofem, Francis Ovat, and the late Honourable Elizabeth Ayumba, who has now been replaced by Honourable Dr. Ekeng Edet, all of the opposition PDP.
“An agreement was signed following the high court of Cross River State, presided by Honourable Justice Franca Enang. We filled the terms of settlement in January and adopted it in February: But since then, the APC has refused to keep to the terms of that agreement. They have defied to pay the PDP legislators their allowances and the implication is that denying those legislators their allowances means denying those constituencies made up of thousands of people, their due benefits or representation and gains of democracy.
“My position is that, for everyday you deprive a legislator the position to effectively represent his or her people, it’s not just him you are denying, you are denying sometimes two hundred or three hundred thousand people he represents.
“So for the little welfare packages they are supposed to send to those people, they are now unable to send them, even those who are supposed to organize skill acquisition programmes for their constituents, they will be unable to do that, you then deprive them from being represented effectively. Their salaries may be enough to keep them going, but what about the people they are representing?
“I am hoping that the court will put a stop these illegalities. As you are already aware; there are already pending matters in court, one challenging the continuous stay of the 18 legislators who defected from the PDP to the APC in the house of assembly: we are saying that by the operations of section 68 of the constitution, the 18 members have lost their seats having left the vehicle upon where they were elevated to occupy those positions, he said.
Anatey lamented that only a government that was not willing to do the right thing would try to stifle the opposition. He said “it is a government that is not minded to live up to responsibilities, to cater for the welfare and security of its people; that wants all voices to be one that will do such. Because if you want to work, you will be open to criticism, you will listen to yearning voices. So those that want everyone to be on the same boat with them, so that whatever they say will be binding on everyone, you know according to our system here, the governor is the leader of the party, so they don’t want anyone to pick up the ills of the government.”