*embarks on long vacation
By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Uneasy calm is brewing in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly as the seats of Esit Eket/Ibeno and Ikono State Constituencies occupied by Rt. Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh and Hon. Asuquo Nana Udo were declared vacant.
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, who announced the seats vacant during an emergency sitting on Wednesday, said that the decision was taken because the duo, Rt. Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh and Hon. Asuquo Nana Udo defected a few months ago from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that gave them platform to contest to the Young Progressives Party (YPP).
The Speaker cited Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which guarantees the tenure of House of Assembly Members.
He quoted the section stating thus, “Being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected.”
“Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.”
The Speaker directed the Clerk of the House, Mandu Umoren, to communicate the order of the House to the appropriate authorities.
Addressing newsmen shortly after Plenary, the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Rt. Hon. Aniefiok Dennis (Etinan), said “the Rt Hon Speaker relied on the provisions of Section 109(1)(g) in declaring the seats vacant. He acted in compliance with extant law, since the affected Honourable Members abandoned their seats, given to them by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).”
On non declaration of the seat of Mbo State Constituency occupied by Hon. Effiong Johnson vacant, who also defected from APC to PDP, the Speaker said, “Hon Effiong Johnson stated specifically in his defection letter dated February 8, 2022 that his defection was predicated on factionalization of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the National, State, Chapters and Wards, with several pending cases in court.
Problem however started because both Usoro Akpanusoh and Asuquo Nnana have not written officially to the House of Assembly that they have defected to another party, unlike the case of Effiong Johnson whose letter was read on the floor of the Assembly.
It was equally noted that the House of Assembly was officially adjourned till 13th October, 2022, for official resumption and majority of the members were outside the state/country while the emergency sitting was held.
The emergency sitting, according to a source from the Assembly was convened by the Speaker, Rt. Hon Aniekan Bassey to enable the House to attend to the traditional commemoration of the State Anniversary and only 8 ( eight ) members out of the 26 ( twenty six) were in attendance. Yet, the one-agenda sitting had another hidden agenda, which was the declaration of the seats of Usoro and Udo vacant.
The source further said, “the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey has been under intense pressure to do the hatchet job, as always.
“If the House of Assembly wanted to follow due process, it should have declared 3 seats vacant. The 3rd seat would have been that of Hon Effiong Johnson, representing Mbo State Constituency, who won his 2019 elections under the platform of the APC but defected to PDP before the last PDP primaries.
“Interestingly, he was given the nomination as candidate of the PDP in Mbo State Constituency and will be contesting in the forthcoming elections under the umbrella party, PDP”.