A High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and presided over by Justice Ekaette Obot on Thursday, April 18, nullified the purported emergence of Nse Ntuen as Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
In a judgment delivered at about 11am, the Judge ruled that there is no room in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 for the emergence of more than one Speaker of a State House of Assembly at a time.
The Judge also ruled that the purported emergence of Nse Ntuen as Speaker at a sitting of only three persons, namely Hon. Nse Ntuen, Hon. Otobong Ndem and Hon. Idongesit Ituen, after plenary had been officially closed for the day, and in the absence of the other 21 Members of the State House; the absence of the Clerk, a Mace, Gavel and other symbols of parliamentary authority on Monday, November 19, 2018, was unconstitutional, unlawful, invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
The court went on to hold that it is unlawful and disrespectful to the nation’s Constitution for Nse Ntuen or any other person to parade himself as the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly when the tenure of Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke who was unanimously elected as Speaker of the said House at a plenary held in 2015 with all the elected Members in attendance, is still intact and subsisting in the eyes of the law.
The court then made an order restraining Hon. Nse Ntuen from parading himself as Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
Before ruling on the substantive matter, the Judge ruled on the notice of preliminary objection which was filed by Mr. Uyo-Obong Jumbo, counsel for Nse Ntuen and three others. In the objection, counsel for the defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter. He argued that it is only the Federal High Court that has exclusive jurisdiction to hear matters connected to the House of Assembly of a State.
In her ruling, the judge dismissed the objection for lacking in merit and awarded cost of N200,000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) against the defendants.
Platinum.ng recalls that in the wake of the crisis which threatened the peace of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in December, 2018, the duo of Hon. Otobong Ndem and Hon. Idongesit Ituen held a parallel plenary and elected Hon. Nse Ntuen as the new Speaker.
Dissatisfied with the action, Hon. Onofiok Luke approached the Akwa Ibom State High Court Suit No. HU/382/2018.
An ex parte order was earlier granted by the court to restrain Nse Ntuen from parading himself as Speaker pending the hearing of the substantive order and on Thursday, April 18, 2019, judgment was delivered on the said substantive matter.
Responding to the judgment of the court, counsel to the Speaker, Mr. Ekemini Udim thanked the court for a well-researched judgment which he said will go a long way in enriching Nigeria’s jurisprudence.
Also in the speaker’s legal team were, Ini Ememobng, Toyo Jimmy and Beulah Udechukwu.