PRESS STATEMENT
CLO’s Position on the Purported Impeachment and Removal of Oruk Anam Vice-Chairman, Abasiama Etukakpan

On 23rd March, 2021 the attention of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Akwa Ibom State Branch was drawn to a publication conveying the Notice of Impeachment of the Vice-Chairman of Oruk Anam Local Government Council.

The Notice of Impeachment, dated 23rd March 2021, emanated from the Oruk Anam Legislative Council and contained allegations against the Vice-Chairman, Hon. Abasiama Etukakpan.

According to the Notice of Impeachment, the Vice-Chairman allegedly breached sections 36 and 43(2) of the Akwa Ibom State Local Government Administration Law, 2017 (sic) on qualification as to age. The Notice also alleged that the Vice-Chairman submitted School Certificates bearing conflicting dates of birth and as well submitted allegedly forged tax Clearance Certificate. In the view of the Oruk Anam Legislative Council, these alleged infractions by the Vice-Chairman amounted to acts of gross misconduct.

Based on the allegations, and without more, the Oruk Anam Legislative Council went on, in the said Notice of Impeachment, to declare that it had impeached and removed from office the Vice-Chairman of Oruk Anam Local Government Council, Abasiama Etukakpan, with immediate effect.

CLO’s Position, Based on the Local Government (Administration) Law of Akwa Ibom State, 2017:

CLO has carried out a thorough review of the Local Government (Administration) Law of Akwa Ibom State, 2017, which lays down the procedure for the removal of the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of a Local Government in Akwa Ibom State, and is disturbed that the procedure laid down in section 44 of the Local Government (Administration) Law of Akwa Ibom State, 2017 for the removal of a Chairman or Vice-Chairman was completely disregarded by the Oruk Anam Legislative Council in the removal of the Vice Chairman of the Oruk Anam Local Government, Abasiama Etukakpan, on 23rd March, 2021.

For the avoidance of doubt, section 44 of the Local Government (Administration) Law of Akwa Ibom State, 2017 states as follows:

“(1) The Chairman or Vice-Chairman may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(2) A notice of allegation of gross misconduct against a holder of the office of the Chairman of Vice-Chairman shall be presented to the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly in writing signed by not less the two-third of the members of the Legislative Council.

(3) The notice of allegation shall specify the details of the allegations and shall state that the holder of the office is guilty of gross misconduct in the functions of the office.

(4) Upon the receipt of the notice under sub-section (2) of this section, the Clerk shall cause a copy of the notice to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the Legislative Council.

(5) In addition, the Legislative Council shall cause any statement made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation to be served on each member of the Legislative Council and the State House of Assembly.

(6) Within seven days of the presentation of the notice to the State House of Assembly (whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation contained in the notice), the House of Assembly shall resolve by motion whether or not the allegation shall be investigated.

(7) A motion of the House of Assembly that the allegation shall be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed unless it is supported by the votes of simple majority of members of the House of Assembly present at the siting.

(8) On passing the motion under the foregoing provision of this section, the House of Assembly shall immediately appoint a panel of seven members of the State House of Assembly to investigate the allegations against the holder of the office.

(9) The holder of an office whose conduct is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person or by a legal practitioner of his own choice.

(10) A panel appointed under this section shall report its findings to the State House of Assembly within one month of its appointment and shall have such powers and exercise its functions in accordance with the procedure as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly.

(11) Where the panel’s report to the House of Assembly is that the allegations have not been proved, no further proceedings shall be taken in respect of the matter and the House of Assembly shall within seven days of the receipt of the report recall the holder of the office.

(12) Where the report of the panel is that the allegations against the holder of the office have been proved, then within 14 days of the receipt of the report, the House of Assembly shall consider the report.

(13) The House of Assembly, by a resolution supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, shall adopt the report of the panel and the holder of the office stands removed from the date of the adoption of the report.

(14) In this section “gross misconduct” means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this Law, the Constitution or Criminal Code.”

It goes without saying that the Oruk Anam Legislative Council clearly circumvented, and by so doing, breached the procedures laid down in the 14 sub-sections of section 44 of the Local Government (Administration) Law of Akwa Ibom State, 2017 in their purported impeachment and removal of the Vice-Chairman of the Oruk Anam Local Government Council.

It is the considered view of the CLO that what the Oruk Anam Legislative Council did in their purported impeachment and removal of the Vice-Chairman of Oruk Anam Local Government Council is tantamount to lynching.

For, as far as section 44 of the Local Government (Administration) Law of Akwa Ibom State, 2017 is concerned, the removal from office of a Chairman or a Vice-Chairman of a Local Government Council in Akwa Ibom State mandatorily requires a lot more than the collection and publication of the signatures of 14 Councillors of the Oruk Anam Legislative Council in the name of impeachment.

CLO frowns at and condemns the total disregard for the Rule of Law by the Oruk Anam Legislative Council in the purported impeachment and removal of the Vice-Chairman of the Oruk Anam Local Government Council and calls on the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, restore the Rule of Law by nullifying the purported impeachment and removal of the Vice-Chairman and assuming its supervisory and oversight functions on Oruk Anam Local Government pursuant to the Local Government (Administration) Law of Akwa Ibom State, 2017.

Signed
Otuekong Franklyn Isong
(Chairman)

Comrade Nsemeke Udoakpan
(Vice Chairman)

Comrade (Barr.) Christopher Ekpo
(Secretary)

Comrade (Barr.) Eseme Phillip
(Assistant Secretary)

Comrade (Barr.) Eyibio Okon
(Legal Secretary)

Comrade (Barr.) Godknows Njoku
(Treasurer & Chairman, CLO Committee on Inter-governmental Relations)

Comrade (Rev.) David Essien
(Chairman, CLO Fact Finding Committee)

Dated, Wednesday, 31st March, 2021.

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