Hon. Ekpo Bassey, member representing Bakassi in the State House of Assembly has assured that the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC will, come 2019, conduct elections in, and also for Bakassi Local Government Area.
He said this yesterday during a symposium on the recent Supreme Court judgement on the Akpabuyo/Bakassi Local Government boundary adjustment and delineation of constituencies held at the African Sport Club, Calabar.
According to him, the State Government was doing everything within its ambit to seeing INEC recognise the new Bakassi Local Government Area created from Akpabuyo as one of the state’s political constituencies.
It could be recalled that following the International Court of Justice, ICJ’s judgement on Cameroon and Nigeria over Bakassi Peninsula, about 70% of the land and people of Bakassi LGA of the state were ceded to Cameroon; thereby, removing the said Bakassi Local Government Area from the State’s record of Local Government Areas.
It could also be recalled that some of the people of Bakassi who returned from Cameroon to retaine their citizenship in Cross River State, Nigeria resided in Ikang, Akpabuyo LGA leading to the later creation of a new Bakassi LGA made up of the three Ikang council wards; Ikang North, Central, and South thereby reducing the initial council wards of Akpabuyo to seven as against ten.
However, CrossRiverDaily understands that after the creation of the new Bakassi by the State House of Assembly in the year 2007, the Cross River State government failed to partner INEC to recognize, vis-à-vis establish a state constituency in the newly created Bakassi, leaving the local government as just a district of the state’s administration but not recognized at the federal level as a political constituency which is the reason INEC has, before now warned that there would be no elections in Bakassi; howthat, whatever goes on there would be considered for Akpabuyo LGA.
Following severally failed negotiations by both the state government and the traditional leadership of Akpabuyo/Bakassi with INEC, the case was then taken to court with the traditional leaders as plaintiff and INEC as defendant.
The case which traveled from the lowest to the highest court in the country had Justice Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court counsel INEC to “do the needful so as not to further traumatize the people of Bakassi” who in his words had “suffered so much from the ICJ leading to the lose of their ancestral land, livelihood and pride”; noting that enfranchising them could be all they needed for consolation.
However, despite Hon. Ekpo’s optimism over INEC’s compliance to the Supreme Court’s counsel, which according to him has necessitated a meeting of him and some officials of INEC in Abuja this weekend, CrossRiverDaily wonders how soon that will be, owing to rate at which election preparations were moving; with some political constituencies in the state almost done with the voter’s registration exercise but Bakassi yet to be duly recognized as a constituency – an issue, Barr. Ekpo Eyo, a former Commissioner of Justice and State Attorney General, advised be handled with utmost emergency.