By MUYIWA OYINLOLA, Abuja
Facts are beginning to unfold on why the National Assembly is yet to swear in Bassey Etim in place of incumbent Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, months after the court had directed.
LEADERSHIP gathered that whereas Etim’s case and that of Senator Isaac Alfa (Kogi East) who was removed in place of Senator Atai Aidoko upon the order of Court appear similar, Etim has not been sworn-in due to certain political considerations.
A source in the Assembly told LEADERSHIP that 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.
Sources said that a similar agreement was not reached with the parties to the Etim versus Akpan case.
Officially, the leadership of the Senate is said to be relying on the report of the Legal Department of the National Assembly to stall the swearing-in.
It was learnt that a legal opinion expressed by the Department asked the Senate President to await more details on the matter before taking further steps.
Sources however said 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.
“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,” a source had said.
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 court 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 the Senate President, Dr. 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 Esq, 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 reads.
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By MUYIWA OYINLOLA, Abuja