Supreme Court orders INEC to delineate Bakassi Council
• Says Its People Have Suffered Enough
The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delineate wards in Bakassi Council of Cross River State so as to give the people a sense of belonging.
Delivering judgment on an appeal brought by the INEC against representatives of Bakassi Council, who were displaced from Cameroun, the apex court held that the people of Bakassi have suffered enough and as such, there was the need for INEC to assuage their plight by delineating constituencies in the council.
Respondents in the appeal – Muri Asuquo, Antigha Cobham, Bassey Ekpenyong Etim and Effiong Iyam, had instituted a case at the lower court on behalf of Ikanga, Esighi, Antigha Ene Eyo and Edihi Idim Ikot Eyi clans of Bakassi.
In their argument, they urged the Supreme Court to uphold the February 2012 judgments of a Federal High Court and Court of Appeal, which were in their favour and dismiss the appeal filed by INEC.
The people had gone to court to compel INEC to recognise and conduct elections in the boundaries adjusted by the Cross River State House of Assembly in line with Law No. 7 of Cross River State 2007.
Earlier, the lower court had in its verdict, ordered INEC to conduct elections in 10 new wards in Bakassi that were created from the former three Ikanga Wards in Akpabuyo Local Council of the state.
In the lead judgment prepared and delivered by Justice John Inyang Okoro of the apex court yesterday, the court insisted that INEC should take steps to ensure that the constituencies were created.
The Court also held that the state House of Assembly has powers to make laws for boundary adjustment in the state, adding that it was a validly made law and nobody could challenge it.
“The House did not create constituency, it only adjusted boundary of Akpabuyo Council to accommodate Bakassi. INEC should do the needful because the people of Bakassi have suffered enough. They should have a sense of belonging”, Justice Okoro held.
Earlier in their argument, 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 in view of the current realities on ground occasioned by the cession of Bakassi to Cameroun.
The court held that INEC ought to have effected a consequential amendment in its directory of wards and constituencies in Cross River.
Reacting to the judgment, the state Commissioner for Transport, Nyong Saviour Okon, expressed delight at the apex court’s ruling.
“On behalf of the Cross River State government, we received the 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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