By NBF News

A former member of the House of Representatives, who was ousted from the House penultimate week, Mr. Bssey Etim, has criticised the House leadership for swearing in his opponent despite two cases pending at the Supreme Court.

Describing the action as most shocking and curious, Etim also questioned the rationale behind the decision of Prince Adedeji Soyebi, who acted as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), before the appointment of a substantive chairman, to ignore the legal opinion of the commission's legal department to issue a Certificate of Return to his opponent, Mr. Emmanuel Obot when there were two valid appeals pending in the apex court on the matter.

He said the inauguration of Mr. Obot, as the member representing the Uyo Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State in disregard to a Federal High Court injunction voiding the Certificate of Return issued to Obot by INEC was a setback to Nigeria's quest to enthrone the principles of democracy and openness in the conduct of public affairs.

Etim, who spoke to Daily Sun in Abuja said the incident, coming at the time 'that we are trying to deepen our democracy, where everybody is looking up to the National Assembly to give the needed value that our democracy deserved,' was quite unfortunate.

He said the matter was worsened by the fact that his opponent, who was sworn-in to take his place had long been expelled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party he purported to belong. 'There are two valid appeals pending in the Supreme Court for the past 15 months, one from the PDP and the other one from my humble self. And aside from this, there is a valid injunction from the Federal High Court, restraining the presentation of the purported Certificate of Return issued by Soyebi as then acting chairman of INEC,' he insisted.

In a memo to his deputy director, legal services made available to Daily Sun, one Chinedu Akubueze, a chief legal officer at INEC, had noted that since the issue at stake was which of the parties was validly nominated as the PDP candidate in the election, the Supreme Court had the jurisdiction to entertain the case filed by Etim on the matter.

'The Supreme Court is already hearing the appeal and it would amount to an attempt to render the judgment of the court inoperative if any action is taken which interferes with the pending status quo. In view of the above, I recommend that the status quo be maintained by the continued representation of Uyo Federal Constituency by Hon. Bassey Etim Bassey,' Akubueze had said.

According to Etim, the Federal High Court's injunction also restrained the Speaker, the Clerk of House of Representatives, and the House of Representatives as a whole from accepting or recognizing the Certificate of Return said to have been issued during the time there was no substantive chairman at INEC. 'And so for this swearing in and inauguration to be done by the same people who had been restrained by the courts is a smack on democracy, and it is a blow to Nigeria. I would rather call on democrats and law makers to rise to this occasion,' he said.