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Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor impeached

Posted by By Uduak Iniodu, Correspondent, Uyo on 2005/06/24 | Views: 1355 |

Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor impeached


Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Chris Ekpenyong, lost his office on Thursday, impeached by 23 members of the state Assembly while out to secure a court order restraining the panel probing him.

Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Chris Ekpenyong, lost his office on Thursday, impeached by 23 members of the state Assembly while out to secure a court order restraining the panel probing him.

A five-man delegation from the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), led by the Chairman Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, could not save his job as the Assembly had already taken the decision before its arrival, same day.

Other members of the delegation included the National Secretary, Ojo Maduekwe, National Deputy Chairman (South), Olabode George, Presidential Adviser, Jerry Gana and A. Waziri.

But the PDP national secretariat has asked all the parties in the dispute to revert to status quo ante. Maduekwe, in a statement on Thursday, advised that all impeachment proceedings against Ekpenyong be halted.

Before then, the motion for his ouster had been moved by House Leader, Etido Ibekwe (Essien Udim State Constituency), seconded by Usenobong Akpabio (Uruan).

Ibekwe argued that over 90 per cent of the allegations levelled against Ekpenyong by the Assembly have been proved by the panel which sat from June 21 to 23.

The panel indicted him on all the seven charges as he failed to comply with Section II (I) (b) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act by not declaring in that he owns the house at 11835 Elkingston CT, Houston, United States.

"Having been convinced that the deputy governor as a public officer deliberately did not make the declaration as required by law, the respondent had in the opinion of the panel, contravened the provisions of Section II(I)(b) Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP 56, of the LFN 1990," the report said.

The panel found Ekpenyong guilty of beating up Paula Usoro, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who solicited assistance from him, and for assaulting a State Security Services (SSS) operative, Kufre Ekpenyong.

It faulted him for using his position as Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee (FGPC) to "obtain advantage in contract bids submitted by his company, Incarnate Construction (Nig) Ltd … while still occupying the public office, he was also managing and directing the affairs of his private company FREKEM Mercantile Limited".

The panel ruled against Ekpenyong in the allegation that he abandoned state function during the Democracy Day celebration to host a meeting in his private residence in Ikot Ukana.

It found it "untenable" his explanation that he obtained approval from the governor to attend to the Pro Health International Team which visited the town, whereas, the panel concluded, former Senator Etang Edet Umoyo admitted in a statement that he co-ordinated the meeting to call on Ekpenyong to contest the 2007 governorship election.

"The deputy governor did not produce evidence of any excuse or permission for absence from the event".

Assembly Speaker, Nelson Efiong, said in his submission that Ekpenyong’s sack adheres to the oath legislators took to defend the Constitution.

His words: "No responsible legislature will sit and watch a person in position of authority indulge in large scale corruption and do nothing about it.

"The action we have taken today should send a signal to whoever is holding office in trust for the people that this House would beam its searchlight around and anyone caught indulging in corruption would be exposed and dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land".

Effiong commended his colleagues for their "sense of patriotism and steadfastness in the face of intimidation and blackmail".

He appealed to them to continue to put the interest of the state and the country above individual interests.

Ekpenyong had earlier, in his response to the notice from the Assembly, denied all the allegations.

He was said to have refused to appear before the panel, constituted by the chief judge, and instead opted to challenge its establishment in court.

He had already filed a matter before the Federal High Court, but before it could be heard, the panel submitted its report on which strength the Assembly decided to impeach him.

Although Ekpenyong’s team faulted the action on point of procedure and on grounds that the matter was already in court, the Assembly insisted that the Constitution empowers it to set conditions for such an exercise and to determine the procedure .

It also argued that even though Ekpenyong had filed a suit, no decision had been taken on it at the time of the action.

Ekpenyong’s aides described the development as "extremely strange and ludicrous".

Nevertheless, jostling for his job has started.

There are three contenders from his Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, among them Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.

Akpabio was favoured to join Governor Victor Attah for his second term campaign but the PDP caucus at the national level reportedly insisted that Attah must go with Ekpenyong or forget the race.

Akpabio is from Essien Udim Council.

The other two are Emmanuel Ibok Essien, a Senator in the last dispensation (Ikot Ekpene Council ) and Essien Ibok, state PDP Deputy Chairman (Abak Council).

Ekpenyong is from Obot Akara Council.

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