The protracted struggle over claims by Hon. Martin Okonta and Hon. Kingsley Nonye Philips (Agbokigboro) to the seat of member representing Ika South Local Government Area in the House of Assembly has finally been resolved, following the swearing in of Hon Philips on Wednesday, July 28, 2010, in the chamber of the House.
Hon. Philips who fought a sustained legal battle to recover the mandate which was stolen by the erstwhile Speaker of the House, Hon. Martin Okonta was immediately ushered to seat number 17, shortly after being introduced and congratulated by other honorable members of the House, who were visibly happy that the lingering political representation crisis in Ika South was finally over.
The Assembly complex was practically taken over by supporters and many of those who were sympathetic to the cause of Hon. Philips, who was declared the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) House of Assembly election for Ika South in 2007, by the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja. The court had in May this year ordered Hon. Okonta to vacate the seat of member representing Ika South in the State Assembly, following a unanimous judgment in which it affirmed that Hon. Philips was the rightful choice of the people of the constituency in the said election.
The matter had lingered to this point, because of the insistence and maneuvering of the former speaker, who hastily approached the Supreme Court, to grant him a stay of execution against the judgement of the Appellant Court, which also ordered him to pay the new legislator the sum of N100m.
Addressing newsmen who thronged the Assembly complex to witness the much awaited event, shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, the new member, Hon. Philips expressed gratitude to God who sustained him all through the period of the struggle. While appreciating those who stood by him, giving moral support, he said the victory was for the people of Ika South who have long craved for the right representation. He particularly thanked his numerous supporters saying that it was their support and encouragement that kept him going, even at some discouraging points during the struggle. He promised to give his best in attracting democracy dividends to the people of Ika South.
Some of the people who spoke to Ika Weekly including Mr. Joseph Agboifo expressed thanks to God for answering their prayer. According to Mr. Agboifo, who is popularly known as Dokita Best "the long awaited moment has finally come. The change the people of Ika South have been longing for is here. We are really happy. It is now that we can confidently say that Ika South has a representative at the House of Assembly. Hon. Kingsley Nonye Philips, by what has happened has made himself a true man of courage. He has achieved what many across the nation could not do. My prayer is that God will give him the needed wisdom, so as to be able to represent Ika South well and improve its socio-political status."
Others who spoke on condition that their names should not be printed maintained that the last 3 years of stolen mandate by Hon. Okonta was a colossal loss and waste of opportunity for Ika South and berated the ousted House of Assembly member for poor representative, which they agreed affected the local government negatively.
One of them who expressed happiness over the development said "I am much full of excitement over the turn of events in Ika South. Hon. Philips has shown us that it is possible in this local government for one to fight what he believes in and get it. I congratulate him and the entire people of Ika South for this victory. "It is indeed a triumph of truth over the false hood that held this LGA down for so many years. I wish our new authentic representative the best in the performance of his legislative duties, and I call on the people of Ika South to give him the needed support"
For Comrade Jerry Ehiwarior, light has overtaken darkness which before now has pervaded the entire Ika South politicallandscape. Our people have finally been set free, as their true mandate has been restored:.
Comrade Ehiwarior, who is the National President of National Association of Ika Students, NAIS while commending the governor and members of the State House of Assembly for adhering to the rule of law stressed that they have done the right thing in obeying the decision of the Court of Appeal, adding that this will further deepen the root of democracy not only in Ika South but at the state and national levels.
By Jonathan Onwuka
Following the swearing in of Hon. Kingsley Nonye Philips on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 as member representing Ika South constituency in the State House of Assembly, thereby finally putting paid to the antics of Hon. Martins Okonta, to cling unto the position of Speaker, the House has unanimously elected Hon. Sam Obi as the new Speaker
The motion for the election of a substantive Speaker was moved by the member representing Burutu 11 constituency, Hon. Funkekeme Solomon, and was unanimously supported by other members, after the acting Speaker, Hon. Basil Ganagana had called for nomination of a new Speaker.
Hon. Ganagana in calling for nomination had observed that, having carried out the swearing in of member representing Ika South constituency, Hon. Kingsley Philips, the House was now properly constituted to elect a new Speaker. He stated that there was the urgent need for a substantive Speaker to emerge, so that the House could move forward, leaving behind it, the ugly past of uncertainties, occasioned by the sacking of the erstwhile Speaker, Hon Martin Okonta.
The new Speaker, Rt. Hon. Prince Sam Obi in his acceptance speech expressed his appreciation to his colleagues for finding him worthy and reposing their confidence in him. He promised to carry all members along in presiding over the affairs of the House.
It will be recalled that the former Speaker, Hon. Martin Okonta was sacked from office on May 12, 2010 by the Appeal Court, Abuja, which ruled that he was not the duly sponsored candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2007 House of Assembly election. The Court subsequently ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue Mr. Philips Certificate of Returns and ask that he be sworn in; and order which took about 75 days to be carried out.
The court also awarded N100m (one hundred million naira) cost to Hon. Philips, to be paid by the sacked former Speaker Hon. Okonta.