More details emerged in the ongoing tussle for the control of Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial seat.
Strong indications emerged that the decision to stall the swearing-in of Mr. Bassey Etim in place of Senator Bassey Akpan was informed by high- wired politics.
A source close to the leadership of the National Assembly said alhough the cases of Etim and Senator Isaac Mohammed Alfa(Kogi East), who was removed for Senator Atai Aidoko on the order of the court appear similar, Etim has not been sworn-in because of political considerations.
The source said Aidoko was sworn-in because the parties to the case were clearly told that once the court rules, the winner would be sworn-in as Senator.
The source noted that a similar agreement was not reached with the parties to the Etim versus Akpan case.
The leadership of the Senate is said to be relying on the report of the legal department of the National Assembly to keep on hold the inauguration of Etim.
Our reporter learnt that a legal opinion expressed by the Department urged the Senate President to await more details on the matter before taking further steps.
The source added that Etim’s ‘perceived confrontational posture could also have been one of the factors threatening to cost him the seat following his victory over Senator Bassey Akpan at the Federal High Court, Uyo in February.’
He said: “Rather than engage the leadership, Etim is seen as fighting from outside with series of statements being made against the National Assembly system by those who claimed to be his lawyers.”
The court in Uyo had declared that Etim was the rightful holder of the Akwa-Ibom North East senatorial seat currently occupied by Senator Bassey Akpan in view of his(Etim’s) victory at the primaries conducted by the Peoples Democratic party(PDP) in 2015.
The court had ordered that Etim be sworn-in to replace Akpan. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had in compliance with the Court Order issued a fresh Certificate of Return to Etim on March 28, while he has been waiting on the Senate to give him the go ahead.
Akpan has, however, filed two cases in court, one at the Federal High Court Abuja and another at the Court of Appeal, Calabar to stall his removal.
He is seeking a court injuction to upturn the order of the Federal High Court, which mandated the Senate to swear-in Etim. But the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), in a letter to Senate President Bukola Saraki said that Etim should be sworn- in because there is no order of the Court stopping the exercise, while the Counsel to Etim, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) had also written the Senate calling Akpan’s efforts in court “Forum shopping.”
The legal opinion expressed by the legal department of the National Assembly and signed by Charles Yoila, advised the Senate President to ensure status quo by all stakeholders and parties pending the hearing of the motion on notice for mandatory Injunction.
“You may also wish to await further details on the position of the matter before taking any further steps,” the legal advice read.