Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Esara gate: Assembly man receives knocks

Esara gate: Assembly man receives knocks
Onofiok Luke, Speaker Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly


The member representing Itu State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon. Idongesit Ituen, has come under fire for allegedly masterminding the trial of the Transition Committee Chairman of Itu Local Government Area, Hon. Elsie Esara.

The council boss has so far appeared twice at the House of Assembly for questioning over a petition over an alleged financial misappropriation sent to the state parliament by three Supervisors in the Itu Transition.

The petition amongst other allegations, accused Esara of pilfering the council purse as well as using council funds to cater for the welfare of Akwa Ibom First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel.

Though the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke, stated that the involvement of the House in the matter is bereft of political undertones, there are indications in some quarters that Hon. Ituen having been locked in a cold war with the embattled Esara, is now using his Assembly colleagues in a perceived mission to oust her as Transition Chairman of Itu.

Making its position known on the issue, a group, Itu Patroits’ Forum, in a release titled ‘Before Idongesit Ituen runs mad’, decried that “Hon. Ituen, using a couple of Supervisors in Itu Transition Committee as pawns, has also joined forces with some House of Assembly members in the rather futile attempt to oust the council boss.”

The release signed by the Chairperson and Secretary of the group, Elder Edem Linus and Barr. Silas Uboh, observed that “no anti-graft agency in Nigeria has acted on the petition underlines the fact it lacks credibility”, adding that, “it is even more mind boggling when one realizes that the main reason for the call for sack is a mere allegation which is yet to be proven by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

Reeling out Esara’s achievements in office to include, “construction of a befitting storey building to serve as the Itam market office, drainage system in Itam, empowerment of over 180 women and youths in agriculture, empowerment of 200 youths with grants and other life touching projects”, the Itu Patroits’ Forum challenged Ituen to present his scorecard as legislator. 

Accusing him of being a serial blackmailer and fraudster, the group alleged that, “in 2007, Governor Godswill Akpabio (as he then was) gave him Inter-ministerial Project worth 200 Million Naira. Ituen siphoned the money. We challenge him to show any project he executed with the money. As the transition chairman of Itu, Ituen built about 30 shops with council funds and later sold all the shops to himself and his aide, a certain Idorenyin Raphael.

“Nowadays, Ituen goes around bragging about his football academy. The bitter truth is that the club, rather than being an avenue for talent harnessing and wealth creation, has become that of exploitation. An ex-international, Friday Ekpo, who coached the team for nine months is still being owed nine months salary. The welfare of Ituen FC players is pitiable.”

He was also accused of “recruiting cultists and arming them to mastermind violence during elections”, as well as instigating a blackmail campaign against his predecessor, Rt. Hon. Ekaette Okon.  

Reacting to the allegation that the Governor’s wife, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, connived with Esara to defraud Itu people, the group declared that, “Governor Udom Emmanuel has been very magnanimous to Itu, and we must reciprocate, not malign him, his administration or any member of his immediate family. Ituen, with his stained reputation, should not rub tar on the immaculate image of the Governor’s wife whom many hold in high esteem. Mrs. Esara too must be spared the embarrassment.”

They warned: “Itu Patriots’ Forum hereby states clearly that, we will henceforth not condone any act aimed at creating disunity and distraction in Itu. We have set machineries in motion to that effect.  We have the clout and know-how to tame Idongesit Ituen whose maniacal mannerisms have reached astronomical heights. He who has ears should hear.”

  Another group under the aegis of Women Arise Initiative, lamented that, “at this time when the nationwide agitation for the 35% affirmative action on women is gathering momentum, a rather unwholesome agenda of sacrificing women on the altar of petty politics is underway in Akwa Ibom State.”

Part of the release signed by the State Coordinator and State Secretary of the organization, Chief (Mrs.) Emah Donatus and Lady Imaobong Imoh Etukudoh, reads: “It is just a political gimmick spun by Mr. Idongesit Ituen, who is occupying the Itu State Constituency seat in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. The ignoble role played by him in this issue has not escaped our radar.” 

“Why should a man be so desperate? The fact that he failed woefully in his bid to install his candidate as a Transition Committee Chairman shouldn’t prompt him to go haywire to the extent of mudslinging the immaculate images of the Governor’s wife and Mrs. Esara. Perhaps, Ituen is jealous of the synergy between the duo. Today, the duo are victims, and no one knows who will be the next victim(s).

While the positive exploits of the duo are downplayed by Ituen and his co-travelers, we wish to state unequivocally that this is unhealthy for democracy. Failure to realize the dangerousness of this futile mission will be regrettable, and we pray so!”

Urging women to stand up against what they described as witch-hunt, the group declared that an attack on the Governor’s wife is an attack on all Akwa Ibom women.

   They highlighted the achievements of Hon. Esara in office and warned Hon. Ituen to “henceforth be wary of his unwholesome inactions. We are all out to protect our own, and have explored all viable means to ensure that our mission comes to fruition.”

Hon. Ituen could not be reached for comments as he did not respond to a text message sent to his phone. 

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