By Magnus Effiong
As the 2023 elections gradually draw close with the tempo of political activities rising menacingly, the Chairman of Akpabuyo local government area of Cross River State, Hon Emmanuel Offiong Bassey, has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to stop counting votes cast in elections in Bakassi local government area for Akpabuyo.
The Chairman said such has been the trend in all INEC-organised elections since the ceding of the Bakassi peninsular to Cameroon despite the fact that the former three wards of Akpabuyo, Ikang North, Ikang South and Ikang Central are now legally in Bakassi.
Speaking during the visit of a senatorial aspirant for Cross River South, Chief Victor Ekpo, to Bakassi and Akpabuyo chapters of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to consult party stalwarts and members on his ambition, Hon Bassey described the development as unacceptable.
“I know it is not yet time for campaign but when you finally get the APC ticket, we shall enumerate our challenges to you.
“But let me briefly inform you that one of our challenges is that during elections conducted by INEC, votes cast during such elections in Bakassi are always counted for Akpabuyo thereby indirectly disenfranchising Bakassi people. This is unacceptable.
“The only way to resolve this is to engage members of the National Assembly for a legislation on this anomaly, and we hereby appeal to you that when you get there, please work to ensure this ambiguity is removed.”
Speaking earlier, Chief Efiom said he would work with the people of Akpabuyo and Bakassi to ensure the issues sorrounding the suffering of the displaced Bakassi natives, now sojourning in Akpabuyo and environs, are tackled once and for all.
“Bakassi matter will be one of my cardinal focuses and it is an agenda which I will pursue with everything in me when, by God’s grace, I get to the Senate.
“I am determined to seek ways of laying the ghost of the ceding of our cherished Bakassi peninsular to rest properly. We will sit together and discuss Bakassi and Akpabuyo deeply and sincerely. This is my promise and I will not disappoint you,” the senatorial aspirant submitted.
Recall that while the Cross River State House of Assembly had passed Law No 7 of 2007 recognising the three wards of Ikang North, Ikang South and Ikang Central as part of the new Bakassi following the ceding of the peninsular, the electoral body has continually argued that the said Wards for Bakassi were unconstitutional, insisting that votes cast in any election in those places would be counted for Akpabuyo.
The Commission claimed that the State House of Assembly does not have powers constitutionally to alter or delineate State constituencies. The matter is still a subject of controversy.