By Magnus Effiong
The camp of the ‘concensus candidate’ of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Cross River, Senator Bassey Edet Otu, has reacted to a viral petition from counsel to a group, ‘Concerned All Progressive Congress (APC) Members,’ which purportedly sought the disqualification of Senator Otu for allegedly being an ex-convict.
Recall that Bala I. Dakum & Co, which claimed to be solicitors to the said group, had written to the Chairman of the Cross River State Gubernatorial Screening Committee of the party, seeking Otu’s disqualification.
The petition, dated May 14, 2022, had alleged that Senator Otu was “convicted for defrauding his former employer, Mercantile Bank of Nigeria Plc in charge NO. HC/10190/1987.”
But in a reaction, titled, ‘Petition Against Senator Prince Bassey Otu, Another failed Desperation attempt,’ Barr Ekpenyong Akiba Esq, who spoke on behalf of the Bassey Otu Media Team, described the group as faceless and that the petition itself was not only malicious but an act of sheer desperation.
“Our attention has been drawn to a petition by an anonymous group of desperate individuals under the guise of Concerned Members of the APC, alleging Senator Prince Bassey Otu is an ex-convict whose emergence as a consensus candidate and possible flagbearer of the Cross River State APC is in violation of section 182 (e) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which prohibits ex-convicts from holding public office.
“We wouldn’t have given this malicious petition any attention but to correct the negative impression it seeks to achieve.
“Senator Prince Bassey Otu ran for office in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019, and was successfully screened and cleared in each of these elections. Only cleared candidates with no concerns with the EFCC, ICPC, or ex-convicts are considered by screening committees. No political party ignores these crucial factors.
“For the avoidance of doubt, he would have been disqualified at some time during his years as a flagbearer in elections if he was actually an ex-convict.
“Secondly, if a party’s screening committee makes the error of clearing an ex-convict and the candidate is elected flagbearer, the opposition would use the opportunity to have him disqualified by petitioning the court.
“However, Prince Otu was the flagbearer in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019, and no opposition party filed a lawsuit to have him removed.
“We challenge the faceless sponsors of the petition to come out with prove of their fabricated claims.
It is on record that Prince Otu served the Mercantile Bank meritoriously and was paid all his entitlements with gratitude. He served and left without any blemish. He was absorbed into politics as a result of his excellent achievements.
“It’s awful that individuals can be driven to such depths of desperation. This is another failed attempt in distracting the peaceful process by the leadership of the Party.
“Since the rumour of his aspiration, Prince Otu has been the target of vicious defamation, slander, disgrace, and humiliation efforts aimed at sabotaging his chances.
“The Party’s Screening Committee successfully screened Prince Otu yesterday and we want to assure all our supporters that he will be announced “cleared” when the Party publishes the list of cleared candidates,” Barr Akiba, stated.
Senator Bassey Otu was chosen as consensus candidate of the party by a vast majority of the aspirants and Governor Ben Ayade himself but two of the aspirants, Sen John Owan Enoh and Chief Chris Agara, rejected the arrangement.
Reports say Otu, Owan Enoh and Agara had been screened to contest in the forthcoming governorship primaries.