Lawmaker laments INEC’s inability to delineate Bakassi wards
By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
Lawmaker representing Bakassi in Cross River House of Assembly, Rt Hon. (Dr) Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, has lamented the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to delineate political wards in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State as directed by the Supreme Court in its February 2018 judgement.
He noted that with the development, many Bakassi people might again be disenfranchised during the March 28, 2020 local government election in the state.
Dr Bassey, who spoke in Calabar, at the weekend, in a chat with our reporter said: “It is true that judgment was entered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria on February 23, 2018 urging INEC to delineate constituencies in Bakassi Local Government Area. Unfortunately, INEC has not carried out that exercise till now. The reasons they advance was that time was too short to do that before the general elections.
“I use this opportunity to appeal to INEC to expedite action in the delineation of wards in Bakassi. This is necessary because if they fail to do that, they would be acting in total violation of the Supreme Court judgement and would by that disenfranchise thousands of Bakassi people during the forthcoming local government election. Their failure is also against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the rule of law.
“It is mandatory on every institution of government to respect the dictates of the laws of the land. Justice delayed is justice denied. Bakassi people have suffered for too long and should not be deprived of their political rights. If we have lost part of our land, part of our ancestral homes to the ceding, if we have lost revenue and sources of our income, at least why would Bakassi people not be allowed to have political stability? Why can’t our people participate in elections freely?
“In all angles, we are deprived, distressed and frustrated. Section 8 subsection 4 of the Constitution is very clear on the responsibility of the House of Assembly to adjust boundaries in a situation such as we found ourselves.
‘The House adjusted the boundary of the then Akpabuyo to accommodate our people who did not want to remain in the ceded territory. In its judgment, the Supreme Court validated the position of the House of Assembly in enacting Law No. 7 adjusting the boundary and creating a new settlement for the displaced Bakassi people.
“The process is very clear. The State has adjusted the local government boundary, INEC, you delineate. The local government election is by the corner and yet majority of our people cannot vote. The question to ask is: ‘Why is INEC dragging its feet and disenfranchising our people’. This is regrettable, this is unacceptable.”
The former Bakassi Local Government Chairman also called on the Federal Government to pay compensation to Cross River State for the loss of Bakassi, adding: “The Federal Government should pay compensation, in perpetuity, to Cross River state for the loss of its land, forest resources, oil and gas resources, loss of the 76 oil wells and other human capital loss. The compensation will go a long way in cushioning the effects of the pains our people have been made to pass through. ”