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S’Court Orders INEC to Delineate Bakassai LGA


The Supreme Court has directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delineate wards in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State.
The apex court gave this order on Friday while delivering a judgment on an appeal brought by the election umpire against representatives of Bakassi Local Government Area, who were displaced from the Republic of Cameroon.
The people of Bakassi had gone to court to compel INEC to recognise and conduct elections in the boundaries adjustment by the Cross River State House of Assembly which was in line with Law No 7 of Cross River State 2007.
It would be recalled that the lower court had earlier passed judgment ordering the INEC to conduct elections in the 10 new wards of Bakassi that were created from the old three Ikanga Wards in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of the state.
But INEC had disagreed with the judgment and went to the court of appeal where it also lost. This necessitated approaching the apex court for interpretation of the relevant sections of the Constitution.
However, the apex court held on Friday that the people of Bakassi had suffered enough and urged the electoral umpire to “do the needful” in ameliorating their plight by delineating areas in the council.
The respondents in the appeal were Muri Asuquo, Chiefs Antigha Cobham, Bassey Ekpenyong Etim and Effiong Iyam who had instituted the case at the lower courts for themselves and on behalf of Ikanga, Esighi, Antigha Ene Eyo and Edihi Idim Ikot Eyi Clans, of Bakassi Local Government Area respectively, in their brief of argument, had urged the Supreme Court to uphold the February 2012 judgments of a Federal High Court and a Court of Appeal which were in their favour, and dismiss INEC appeal.
In the lead judgment, which was prepared and delivered by Justice John Inyang Okoro, the Supreme Court said: “All we are saying in this judgment is that INEC should take steps to do the needful.
“The people of Bakassi have suffered more than enough, and that their own representation should not be tampered with. INEC should do something as soon as possible at least to make them feel that they (Bakassi) belong,” Justice Okoro noted.
The Supreme Court further held that the Cross River State House of Assembly “has powers to make laws to adjust boundaries of local governments as it deemed fit” in line with Law No 7 of the state, adding that the law did not create any constituency, but adjusted boundaries of Akpabuyo LGA in order to accommodate Bakassi.
It agreed with the appellant (INEC) that the umpire had the sole powers to create constituencies.
Presenting their arguments before the Supreme Court, the respondents (Bakassi representatives) submitted that the state assembly had powers having enacted Law No 7 as a legal compass to locate Ikanga North, Ikanga Central and Ikanga South as Wards in Bakassi LGA, in view of the current realities on ground occasioned by the cession of Bakassi to Cameroon, saying, INEC ought to have effected a consequential amendment in its directory of wards and constituencies in Cross River State.
Reacting to the judgment, the Cross River State Commission for Transport, Hon Nyong Saviour Okon, expressed delight at the decision of the apex court, saying, “on behalf of the government of Cross River State, we have received this judgment with delight. As a law-abiding people, we will go with the dictates of the judgment. We will try to get INEC to do the needful,” he said.

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