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TRIBUNAL THROWS OUT PETITION AGAINST IKONO FEDERAL LAWMAKER

The National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Uyo, Friday dismissed the petition challenging the election of Hon Emmanuel Ukpong-udo as member of Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency.

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TRIBUNAL THROWS OUT PETITION AGAINST IKONO FEDERAL LAWMAKER

Hon. Emmanuel Ukpong Udo, Member Representing Ikono Federal Constituency

Hon. Emmanuel Ukpong Udo, Member Representing Ikono Federal Constituency

The National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Uyo, Friday dismissed the petition challenging the election of Hon Emmanuel Ukpong-udo as member of Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency.

The tribunal dismissed the petition jointly filed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and their candidate, Edidiong Idiong, citing breach of procedure on the part of the petitioners.

The tribunal ruled that the petitioners failed to file the mandatory application for pre-trial within the stipulated 7days.

The legal implication of today’s decision is that the petition filed by the APC and its candidate for the Ini/Ikono Federal Constituency has been laid to rest.

Appearing for the petitioners were Ubong Offiong of Victor Iyanam & CO while Barr. Godwill Umoh, O. B. Akpan, Anietie Bassey, Linus Uduk were present for the first respondent, PDP.

The second respondent, Hon Emmanuel Ukpong-udo, was represented by Solomon Umoh SAN, Emmanuel Akpan, Ekemini Udim, Santos Eleja, Clement Imoh and Nsima Akpabio

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Education

Akwa Ibom children ply dangerous river in rickety boats to access education

They suffer the risk of drowning in rickety river. Two children were said to have been rescued when a boat mishap happened a fortnight ago leaving them severely injured, after being rescued by a skilled swimmer

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Akwa Ibom children ply dangerous river in rickety boats to access education

Pupils using boat to cross over the river

Pupils using boat to cross over the river

‘We’ve lost faith in government’ – Village Head

By Uduakabasi Ikpat/Ofonime Honesty & Joseph Atainyang

Like a fairy tale, told in the days of old, when humanity coped with nature in most catastrophic circumstances, villages exist in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, where school pupils would cross a deadly river on a daily basis to access basic education.

School children from four years old are exposed to harsh whether condition as they walk through swamps, get drenched before crossing a fishing settlement to where they acquire education.

Unlike what now obtains in modern cities in Nigeria, where children enjoy the luxury of being conveyed in air conditioned vehicles by parents and guardians to and from their schools, those of Ikot Mfon and Ndiya Usung Inyang communities in Etinan and Nsit Ubium Local Government Areas, respectively, are not so fortunate.

They suffer the risk of drowning in rickety river. Two children were said to have been rescued when a boat mishap happened a fortnight ago leaving them severely injured, after being rescued by a skilled swimmer.

The Ikot Mfon/Ndiya River serves as the boundary between the two communities.
The river is where a popular Catholic Missionary identified as Reverend Father Fintan drowned while spreading the gospel of Christ as far back as the late 1800s. His tombstone stands on the river bank.

The children attend Goodnews International Nursery School, Ndiya Usung Inyang; Qua-Iboe Church Central School, Ndiya and Comprehensive Secondary School, Ndiya. Meanwhile, the only educational institution available in Ikot Mfon community is the Saint Francis Catholic Primary School.

Ikot Mfon is in Ward 2, in Etinan. It has no social amenities like electricity, motorable roads, and having been cut off from the conjoined Ndiya community of Nsit Ubium LGA, has no attraction to its local market, where petty traders gather to sell their wares.

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Inhabited by local farmers, fishermen and artisans, and subjected to unfavourable conditions, the community is unhappy at the level of abandonment by government. They condemn a situation in which government officials would come to them during elections period, take their votes but run back to the state capital, Uyo, as soon as the political period was over.

Speaking with our team, the Village Head of Ikot Mfon, Eteidung Oscar Ekanem said the road from Ndiya which links the bridge to his community existed before the civil war.

Eteidung Ekanem said it is a federal government road leading to Ikot Ubo and also to Abak town. He lamented that the collapsed bridge had long failed without efforts to get it reconstructed, until the year 2016 when a lorry loaded with about 80 bags of kernel fell into the river, destroying the dilapidated bridge in the process.

Eteidung Ekanem, who spoke through village council chairman, Obong John Williamson stated that all four persons on board perished in the river, including a police officer, with only one survivor.

His words, “The road had been there before the civil war. We don’t have government attention here. They only come here when they need our votes. But after every election, they would leave us and run back to Uyo.

“That river has consumed many persons. All four persons died, except one in 2016 when a kernel merchant wanted to cross the bridge with about 70 or 80 bags of the product. The police officer who came with them also died. It was published everywhere in the media.

“The whole of this Ward II does not have electricity. When they brought electricity here, they diverted it to Udom’s (the governor’s) side. We shall never be part of this system again. We are not Ikot Mfon (grace family). They have counted us out of everything they are doing.

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“I am calling on the federal government to come to our rescue, knowing that the state government has no good intention towards us. They have come for inspection over 30 times. Nobody is doing anything about it. We are crying daily because of our children. Please, tell the government to come to our aid”, the visibly emotional man concluded.

Aligning his views with that of Eteidung Ekanem, a family head in Ikot Mfon, Obong John Francis Aaron observed that the situation is deadly, especially as children are daily crossing the river to acquire education, adding that it also affects the women who engage in commercial activities.

The Youth Leader of Ikot Mfon, Mr Francis Udofot and Celestine Johnson, a youth of the community, decried the anguish they experience in the area. They said the community boasts of human capital that engages in agro based activities, as they are blessed with enormous vegetation and arable land. They mentioned that they have crude oil and oil palm.

Our team spoke with school children who shared their thoughts on the circumstance. Happiness Anietie and Maurice Etuk are Basic 5 pupils of the Goodnews International Nursery School who said they are always scared while crossing the river.

Grace Peter, Basic 4, and three children of the same parents: Mary Patrick, Matthew Patrick and Gabriel Patrick of Basic 3, 2 and 1 all from Usung Esuk of Ikot Mfon village called on the government to step into the matter and safe them from imminent danger.

Market women, including Comfort Morrison from Ikot Ante, Bibiana Michael from Ikot Mfon and Eno Evangelist from Ndiya lamented that their businesses which hitherto had flourished, was currently crumbling after the collapse of the linking bridge. They informed that their fare is always N100 to cross over to another side of the road.

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Meanwhile, a local miner of sharp sand, William Jeremiah, together with Ekomobong Samuel told our team that the two communities have been living peacefully ever before the bridge collapsed. They narrated that many people do not find it easy to cross the water.

They maintained that the school children would even stand in the rain for a long time and sometimes return home when there is no canoe to paddle them to the other side.

However, the federal government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has constantly been announcing her interest in developing the local communities and linking them up with cities to boost economic viability. The government has promised to prioritize the development of every part of the country.

In his Democracy Day Address, President Buhari repeatedly stated that his government would ensure the construction of critical feeder roads in the local areas so as to facilitate the transportation of food and other commodities.

Meanwhile, the member representing Etinan Federal Constituency, Barr Onofiok Luke could not respond to the development as calls and text messages sent to his cell phone attracted no feedback.

Ikot Mfon Community is however blessed with prominent scholars like Prof Ntiero Umoren of the University of Uyo and the late Dr Dennis Umoren, while the neighboring Ndiya of Nsit Ubium is blessed with the former Akwa Ibom State Secretary to Government and Managing Director, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, as well as Mr Inyang Unya.
Their people called on them to properly relate with relevant government agencies in order to wipe their tears away.

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AKWA IBOM FEDERAL LAWMAKERS TO RAKE MILLIONS TOMORROW AS ALLOWANCES

Federal Lawmakers from Akwa Ibom extraction will tomorrow Tuesday 11, June 2019 after their swearing-in be paid….

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AKWA IBOM FEDERAL LAWMAKERS TO RAKE MILLIONS TOMORROW AS ALLOWANCES

Federal Lawmakers from Akwa Ibom extraction will tomorrow Tuesday 11, June 2019 after their swearing-in be paid N129,656,625 million naira as allowances.

National Assembly Service Commission will pay the sum of N10,132,000:00 to each of the three Senators representing Akwa Ibom senatorial districts.

The ten Federal of Representatives will also get N9,926,062.5 each as their furniture and accommodation allowance.

Congratulations let the work begin. Represent us well.

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Akwa Ibom: Fresh moves to Relocate National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal

In the petition dated May 20, 2019 and signed by S. I. Ameh, SAN, who is the lead counsel to Senator Akpabio in the suit filed by him to challenge the declaration of Dr Christopher Ekpenyong as the winner of the National Assembly Elections for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District at the just concluded elections, Akpabio states that the Tribunal should be moved to Abuja for three reasons, thus;

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Akwa Ibom: Fresh moves to Relocate National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal

Nnamdi Osuji

The outgone Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District at the Senate of the National Assembly, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio has petitioned the President of the Court of Appeal praying for the relocation of the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal to Abuja.

In the petition dated May 20, 2019 and signed by S. I. Ameh, SAN, who is the lead counsel to Senator Akpabio in the suit filed by him to challenge the declaration of Dr Christopher Ekpenyong as the winner of the National Assembly Elections for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District at the just concluded elections, Akpabio states that the Tribunal should be moved to Abuja for three reasons, thus;

1. Intimidation of his witnesses by the Respondents;
2. The location of the tribunal is in between private homes and unsuitable for a tribunal and is behind the Governor’s lodge and therefore susceptible to the Governor’s influence;
3. At the last sitting supporters and witnesses of the petitioner were attacked and prevented from gaining access to the tribunal;

Our investigations however revealed a clear contradiction on the goings on at the Tribunal and the reasons as filed by S. I Ameh of counsel to the petitioner. Our findings are that the case is at the pre-trial stage; at the last sitting of the court, the activity was the tendering of documents by INEC who has been joined as a Respondent to the petition. The issue of Senator Akpabio’s witnesses being “…attacked and prevented from gaining access to the Tribunal” therefore seem ill-conceived or premature in the circumstance as the event of the attendance of witnesses to the Tribunal has not yet arisen since actual trial has not commenced.

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Our correspondent further gathered that there has been no violence of any form or resistance or attempt by any of the parties to prevent either party’s witnesses or supporters from accessing the Tribunal. He narrates that the court room is always filled to capacity by supporters of both parties by 8:30 am, minutes before the court sits at about 9 am, with the overflow strolling around the court premises till the court adjourns at all the appearances.

On the proximity of the Tribunal to the Governors office and it’s “susceptibility to the Governor’s influence”, a practicing lawyer in Uyo stated that the venue of the Tribunal is the traditional location of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State adding that such proximity has never been cited as a possible factor in determining the course of Justice, even by the most unlearned of men and therefore expressed regrets over such banal reasoning as a justification for seeking the relocation of the Tribunal.

Recall that Senator Akpabio and his party the All Progressives Congress (APC) had already made efforts before the commencement of the Tribunal to relocate the Tribunal from Akwa Ibom citing insecurity as a the reason for the prayer.

Comments from some political class in Akwa Ibom state reveal fear over the possible outcome of this petition. This fear, our correspondent gathers, is predicated on the fact that Senator Akpabio has severally
boasted that the President of the Court of Appeal is “in his pocket” and would declare him as the winner of the elections when the matter gets to the Court of Appeal. This assertion which first got to the media through the reports of his reconcilliatory meeting with Rotimi Ameachi, the Minister for Transportation, could again be gleaned from the unusual confidence with which the outgoing Senator spoke at his valedictory session at the 8th Assembly wherein he assured his colleagues that “he shall return to the Senate”. If truly the President of the Court of Appeal is in Akpabio’s pockets, then the Tribunal may be relocated.

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A coalition of young lawyers in Akwa Ibom state, Akwa Ibom Young Lawyers Coalition however insisted that the Tribunal must not be relocated from Akwa Ibom State in the interest of Justice and to afford the young lawyers the opportunity to have a first hand experience in Election Petition matters, which they say they have already started learning since the commencement of the Tribunal’s proceedings. They dismessed the reasons stated by the petition in his call for the relocation of the Tribunal as “…fatuous and wanting in good faith”.

Efforts to reach the President of the Court of Appeal, S. I. Ameh, SAN or Senator Akpabio on the subject has been fruitless but a source within the Court of Appeal who pleaded anonymity confirmed that the petition has been minuted to the Secretary of the Election Petition Panel who has been directed to advise on the petition.

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