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Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River State
May 2021salaries of political office holders, elected local government chairmen, councilors and other political appointees in Cross River State have not been paid.
Checkes revealed that the non-payment was as a result of their refusal to join the Governor Ben Ayade in his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Findings also showed that barely five weeks after his defection, Ayade had discreetly directed the office of the state accountant general and that of the legislature to withhold further payments of elected officers who refuse to defect.
Commenting on this on Friday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), caretaker committee chairman, Barr Effiok Cobham, lamented the action of APC-led government, just as he raised alarm over the alleged withholding of salaries and allowances of some House of Assembly members and councillors for refusing to defect to the APC.
He described the development as worrisome because salaries and allowances are their legitimate earnings that have nothing to do with party, adding that such act was an illegality that would not go unchallenged legally in the state.
Said he: “It is criminal to seize elected officers’ salaries and allowances for not defecting to APC with you. It is true that all benefits and entitlements due PDP legislators at the Assembly and some councillors have been stopped because they are keeping faith with their party.
“The Governor is not paying from his pocket. He has even collected the official cars allocated to some of the legislators. The councillors are being threatened and harassed daily, thereby putting fears into them.
“Well, we as a party would not fold our hands and allow our members to be humiliated just because they refused to join Ayade in APC. We shall seek redress in a competent court of law soon”.
A source at the Assembly Complex in Calabar who pleaded anonymity disclosed that the total amount due the members was in the tune of N11m which includes their allowances of N1.5m each and N200, 000 each for their legislative aides.
The affected lawmakers are Rt.Hon Fred Osim (Ikom I), Okpechi Gabreil (Obubra I), Nelson Ofem ( Yakurr I), Elizabeth Ironbar (Akpabuyo), Efa Esua ( Municipality) and Itam Abang ( Boki I).
The source further hinted that the Speaker has dissolved all the House Committees in line with the House Rules at the end of every legislative session.
“It is possible that none of the seven legislators would be allowed to head sensitive committees anymore ,” the source disclosed .
When contacted However, the Speaker of the House of House of Assembly, Rt Hon Jones William Eteng, in a chat said he is not aware that some members’ allowances have been seized, adding that all salaries due them have been paid till date.