HomeNewsI'm Still Speaker: Confusion As Cross River Lawmakers Fight Over Impeachment

I’m Still Speaker: Confusion As Cross River Lawmakers Fight Over Impeachment

A brawl broke out in the Cross River State House of Assembly after Speaker, Rt. Hon. Elvert Ekom Ayambem, was impeached, by 17 of the 25 lawmakers over alleged financial misappropriation.

Ayambem has, however, denied being impeached.

Ayambem had been elected Speaker of the 10th Cross River State House of Assembly in June 2023.

Immediately following the impeachment, one of the lawmakers made a dash for the mace.

However, the legislator with the mace refused to let go, leading to an open struggle and a brawl in the chamber.

Ayambem, who represents Ikom 2 State Constituency in the Assembly, was impeached by 17 members of the House over allegations of misappropriation of funds.

The impeachment motion was moved by Hon. Effiom Ekarika representing Calabar South 1 Constituency and seconded by Hon. Omang Charles Omang representing Bekwarra State Constituency.

Amid the crisis, the Assembly complex was reportedly taken over by personnel of the Department of State Services, the Dragon Squad, and personnel of the Nigeria Police Force.

Ayambem, however, said he remained the head of the Assembly and declared the process of his removal null and void.

The Chief Press Secretary to the embattled Speaker, Matthew Okache, described his impeachment as fake news in a press statement.

Okache said, “To be clear, the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly is without a doubt Rt. Hon Elvert Ayambem and that is the current position. What happened earlier today (Wednesday) during the plenary, when Hon. Effiong Akarika, a member representing Calabar South 1, disrupted the session by inviting hoodlums to enter the chamber, is a ridiculous charade with no constitutional basis.

“The House of Assembly is not aware of any impeachment notices being served to anyone before the frivolous act as witnessed at the chambers. The alleged impeachment and replacement are speculative, and the general public is urged to disregard fake news and dismiss any notion of a crisis. The status quo is that Rt Hon Elvert Ayambem is the Speaker of the House of Assembly.”

In the impeachment notice, the lawmakers accused Ayambem of misappropriating N48 million, which was meant to offset the electricity bill of the Assembly complex and the lawmakers’ quarters.

Ayambem was also accused of misappropriating 2 percent of all revenue collected by the state’s Internal Revenue Service, totalling N404 million monthly.

Other infractions mentioned in the impeachment notice were: “misappropriation of the sum of N19,437,844.00 from local government deduction and 11 months deductions which he allegedly failed to disclose to members; un-parliamentary way of conducting proceedings; non-compliance with the Cross River State Legislature Funds Management Law 2021 and arbitrary approval of expenditure in flagrant breach of the provisions of Section 9(1) of the Cross River State Legislature Funds Management Law 2021.”

The impeachment notice was signed by Kingsley Ntui, Okon Owuna, Samuel Neji Abang, Cyril James Omini, Stanley Nsemo, Charles Omang Omang, Thomas Aruku, Eyo Bassey, Bassey Bassey Effiong, Francis Onete Ogban, Victor Nsa, Ovat Agbor, Pius Ashas Ashakia, Martins Achadu, Effiong Ekarika, Egbe Abeng Egbe, and Hilary Bisong.

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