By Our Reporter
Justice Nnang Isoni of the Cross River State High Court, Calabar has ordered the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly and the Clerk of the house to immediately pay the allowances owed some members of the state assembly who refused to defect to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
In a consent judgement, Justice Isoni submitted that the lawmakers being elected members of the state house of assembly, were entitled to their allowances and therefore directed that their allowances be paid to them.
The Court also restrained the leadership of the house from suspending or attempting to suspend the lawmakers until the expiration of their tenure in office.
The seven (7) PDP lawmakers who refused to defect to the APC had dragged the leadership of the house to court for refusing to pay their allowances.
The members, Rt Hon Efa Esua, Calabar municipal State constituency, Rt Hon Friday Okpechi, Obubra 1, Hon Francis Ovat, Obubra 2, Rt Hon Fredrick Osim, Ikom 1, Rt Hon Itam Abang, Boki, Rt Hon Nelson Ofem, Yakuur 1 and Elizabeth Ironbark, Akpabuyo state constituency had prayed the court to compel the house leadership to pay them their allowances.
Hon. Elizabeth Ironbar later died in October 2021.
Findings by The Parchment reveals that the judgement which was delivered on February 7, 2022, is however yet to be implemented. One of the APC lawmakers who pleaded not to be mentioned, told our reporter that, despite the rulling, the state governor, Ben Ayade has ordered the house leadership never to pay the lawmakers until they defect to the APC.
In May 2021, Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade abandoned the People’s Democratic Party for the All Progressives Congress. Few weeks after, 18 lawmakers joined the governor and defected to the APC, while the other 7 out of the 25 member house remained in the PDP.
For refusing to defect to the APC, the Eteng Williams led house of assembly refused to pay the PDP lawmakers their statutory allowances, allegedly on the orders of the State governor, Ben Ayade.
In a special interview with the The Parchment last September 2021, leader of the house, Hon. Peter Odey had denied that the PDP members were refused their allowances.
“As far as I am concerned, I know that all what is due them, still gets to them as members of the state house of assembly” Odey told our reporter.
The recent rulling now exposes Hon. Odey and the house leadership as liars.
One of the affected PDP lawmakers who spoke with our reporter on the implication of the court ruling said.
“ The important thing is that we sued them individually, we only Joined the house of assembly because they are members of the house. So what that means is that, in implementing the judgement, we can begin to sieze their properties individually”
The house leadership led by speaker Eteng Williams had been accused of sharing among themselves over N15 million monthly allowances meant for the seven lawmakers who refused to defect to the APC since May lasted year.