An indigenous body – Nka Nkon Ye Nsongonda Efik, Efut Ye Abakpa – in association with Me Africa Advocacy Group (MAAG) – yesterday, held a symposium in a bid to bring lasting solution to the Bakassi/INEC saga, in which had been further shrouded in uncertainty by recent Supreme Court verdict.
The Symposium which took place at the African Club drew attendance from notable stakeholders, Traditional Rulers, kit and kin of Bakassi and Akpabuyo extractions, legal experts, among other interested individuals.
Speaking, the Chairman of the event and former Member representing Akpabuyo/Calabar South/Bakassi Federal Constituency, at the National Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Patrick Ene Okon said the meeting sought to discuss the Supreme Court’s validation of Law No.7 of Cross River State and its advice to INEC to “do the needful.”
Hon. Okon maintained that the State, through Law No.7, only adjusted the boundaries of Akpabuyo to accommodate the people of Bakassi who were displaced by the ceding the peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon, hence calling on INEC to carry out the apex court’s advice by delineating a State Constituency for Bakassi at the three Ikang Wards spelt out by Law No.7.
At the event, the Keynote Speaker and former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Eyo Ekpo stated that given the validity of Law No.7, it is now INEC’s place to adopt and reflect in its directory Ikang North, Ikang Central and Ikang South as the new Bakassi.
Barr. Ekpo maintained the more pressing need for the embattled area is the need for a Bakassi State Constituency, creation of seven additional wards from the aforementioned Ikang wards and another three wards for Akpabuyo to put them at ten apiece, which have been the staus quo.
He also stated that if government is not called in to intervene in imploring INEC to “do the needful,” the situation will remain the same.
In his remarks, Member representing Bakassi in the State House of Assembly, Hon. (Dr.) Ekpo Ekpo Bassey said despite State Government’s concerted efforts to make INEC comply with Law No.7, the electoral umpire, under the influence of self-seeking people, hesitated by dragging the matter court.
He added argued that for Cross River State Electoral Commission to have conducted elections in those areas, make the job a lot easier for INEC.
He assured the people that the present administration is poised to putting an end to the Bakassi/INEC saga by ensuring that Law No.7 is obeyed by INEC as upheld by the Supreme Court.
Articulating his views, former Commissioner for Lands & Urban Development, Arc. Bassey Ndem lashed out that justice for the Bakassi people was been blighted by a faction of renegades with selfish interests.
Arc. Ndem called on all concerned to rise up to the occasion, go to INEC and ask them to do what the Supreme Court had advised them.
Also speaking, one of the panelists and former Bakassi Local Government Chairman, Hon. Bassey Ita Edem averred that now that the legal tussle has ended, the priority of the people is to see to the peaceful coexistence between the Bakassi and Akpabuyo people.
It will be recalled that Justice Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court in a lead judgment delivered on Friday, 23rd February, 2018 over an appeal by INEC against representatives of Bakassi LGA, who were displaced from the original area now ceded to the Republic of Cameroon, held that people of Bakassi had suffered enough and urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to “do the needful” in order to ameliorate their plight by delineating areas in the Council.