Akwa Ibom senatorial tussle: Bassey Etim accuses Senate of double standard
Senator- elect, Hon Bassy Etim has accused the senate of double standard in the handling of a court order requesting the Upper Chamber to swear him in as senate-elect for the Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
There was a mild drama yesterday in the Senate as former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bassey Etim stormed the Upper House, insisting that he should be sworn-in as the duly elected senator for Akwa Ibom North.
The embattled former lawmaker, who was in closed session yesterday for several hours with the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, however accused the senate leadership of frustrating him.
He alleged that every effort to take his seat in the senate has been frustrated by the senate leadership which he said has sympathy for his opponent, Senator Akpan.
The senator-elect argued that the refusal of the Senate President to swear him in as the senator representing Akwa Ibom North after a court order nullifying the election of senator Bassey Akpan, was a gross violation of court process.
“Unconfirmed sources claimed that the delay to swear in Bassey Etim was as a result of a letter written by one Paul Ushoro (SAN), who incidentally is on the legal team of Dr Bokola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and lead counsel to sacked Senator Akpan, requesting the senate president to use his good office not to swear in Etim until an appeal against the high court judgment in favour of Etim is heard and determined.”
He noted that, although the practice in the 8th Senate is to swear-in any victorious candidate from court, in a pre-election dispute, with certificate of return from INEC, notwithstanding the pendency of appeal at a higher court, the delay in following the tradition in his case appears to create an impression of: ‘One senate, double standard.’
That was after the court found that Mr Akpan was not the valid and bonafide candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which won the 2015 general election for the Akwa Ibom North East senatorial seat.
Recall that about a month ago, a Federal high court sitting in Uyo booted out Mr Bassey Albert Akpan from the National Assembly.
Briefing senate correspondents yesterday, Hon. Etim said “I got the judgement on 27 of February 2017 and the INEC complied and the issued me with the certificate of return as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and l have been coming here to be sworn in as the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Today I came in the morning, hoping that l would be sworn in but that has not been done I also gave the notice to the people of my constituency that I would be sworn-in but l am yet to be sworn-in.
The swearing in is the business of the leadership of the Senate which ought to have taken place now but as l speak, somebody is usurping my seat as a Senator whereas a man who has been issued the certificate of return which is valid is standing outside here.
Any moment from now, I believe that Justice would be done because whether we like it or not, we would definitely seek for Justice either from man or from God.
“There is a precedence in the Senate just like Kogi East in a pre-election matter, when a judgement is given you need to start immediately to enjoy the fruit of the judgement.
The high court, in the judgment on a pre-election dispute between a former member of House of Representatives, Hon Bassey Etim and Senator Akpan over who between them was the authentic candidate of the PDP for the senatorial seat, specifically held that Akpan had wrongly and illegally represented the Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District in the National Assembly for 628 days.
The trial Federal high court consequently ordered Akpan to vacate forthwith the seat for the bonafide candidate of the PDP, Hon Bassey Etim for the remaining 812 days, and refund to the coffer of the National Assembly, within 90 days, all monies he had collected by way of salary and allowances for the 628 days during which he illegally occupied the seat in the senate.
Bassey, said all efforts to see the senate president too had proved abortive.
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