Speaker, AKHA ,Rt.Hon. Aniekan Bassey

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has suspended the Chairman of Nsit Atai Local Government Council, Lady Emem Ibanga, and that of Uyo, Elder Imo Okon, indefinitely for alleged gross misconduct and administrative inefficiency.

The Assembly has directed their respective Vice Chairmen, Mr. Idorenyin Effiong Inyang, and Ukai Udeme Emmanuel to take over immediately.

This followed a resolution of the House read by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, after taking reports from Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Petitions; Hon. Victor Ekwere, and that of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Rt. Hon. Mark Esset.

The Speaker said the House resolution was based on Section 81 (1) of the Local Government Administration Law (2017) as amended, which says “Where the peaceful functioning of the Local Government or its Council is hindered by protracted crisis, the House of Assembly may, by a resolution passed by a simple majority of all its Members, impose such restrictive measures in the Local Government Area or its Council as the House of Assembly may deem fit.”

According to the report, the Uyo Council Chairman, Elder Imo Okon allegedly refused to comply with the Governor’s directives on the welfare of council officers and failing to appear before the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs on invitation.

Also, mismanagement of finances and administration of Uyo LG Councils are part of the allegation against the Uyo Chairman.

The report against Nsit Atai Local Government Chairman, Lady Emem Ibanga was on the grounds of inefficient disbursement of funds appropriated by the house and non release of official vehicle to the Council’s Vice Chairman, as emphasized by the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

The report further alleged non-disbursement of official benefits to the Vice Chairman and pending police case, which has caused rift between the Chairman and Councillors, as reason for her suspension.

“The Local Government Committee of the House received several petitions against the Chairman for involving in defamatory publication on the platform of ‘Deaf Pen’ which are termed as gross misconduct and unbecoming of a public officer,” the report stated.

The House resolved that the two Chairmen be suspended indefinitely and immediately from office as their Vice-Chairmen take over the running of the respective Councils so to enable the Committee carry out unbiased and comprehensive investigation on the issues.

Addressing Assembly correspondents shortly after the plenary, Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Barrister Aniefiok Dennis, also backed the House resolution with Section 12, Sub-One (a) of the Local Government Administration Law, which “gives the House of Assembly the power to direct inquiry or investigation to any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws.”

He also said the “action of the House is also enshrined in Section 128 of the 1999 Constitution as well as in Order Nine, Rule One (a) of the House Standing Order, which gives the House power to oversight the Local Government Councils.”

The House immediately empowered the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and an Ad-Hoc Committee to look into the allegations and report back to the House within one month.

The Ad-Hoc Committee responsible for Nsit Atai matter has Sir Udo Kierian Akpan (Chairman), Barrister Aniefiok Dennis (Secretary), Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong, Rt. Hon. Nse Essien, Rt. Hon. Asuquo Archibong, Hon. Victor Ekwere, Rt. Hon. David Lawrence, Barrister Otobong Bob, and Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko as members.

However, the House Committee for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs remains the Committee responsible for the investigation of alleged gross misconduct of the Chairman of Uyo Local Government Council.

The House adjourned its plenary to June 4, 2020 by 10.am.