Following recent arrest and arraignment of the Member represent Oron Federal Constituency, Mr. Nse Ekpenyong over alleged certificate forgery, war of words have begun between the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressive Party, APC in Akwa Ibom State.
It would be recalled that Mr. Ekpenyong was recently arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly forging an Ordinary National Diploma, OND, certificate of the Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, Abia State, and forging the West African Examination Council, WAEC, certificate. He was subsequently arraigned before a Federal High Court in Uyo.
Reacting to the arrest while speaking with newsmen in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Publicity Secretary of the PDP Mr. Iniobong Ememobong blasted APC for trying to demonize Ekpenyong and make something out of the allegation. He, however, said that there wasn’t much they could do about Mr. Ekpenyong’s arraignment since the matter was a criminal one.
“The party is studying the situation. You know that this is a criminal case, and in criminal case, the political party is not a party to the case,”
Mr. Ememobong, who is also a lawyer, said the party was monitoring the case and that it was best to allow the law take its course.
He warned that the lawmaker shouldn’t be demonized before the court gives its verdict.
“As a party, we believe that the innocence of the accused person as guaranteed by the constitution will be observed. His right as enshrined in the constitution should be respected.”
The lawmaker was yet to brief the PDP on his arraignment, according to Mr. Ememobong.
But a former Attorney-General of the state and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Victor Iyanam, in his reaction said that Mr. Ekpenyong’s arraignment was an embarrassment to the Oro ethnic group and PDP where the lawmaker belong.
“If indeed it turns out that the representative does not have a certificate, that means it is shame to the Oro nation,” Mr. Iyanam, who is also an Oro man, told newsmen. “If it turns out that he forged those documents, it means that the PDP didn’t do their scrutiny well before putting him up for the election.”
Mr. Iyanam rejected the insinuation that the lawmaker was being prosecuted for forgery because he was from Akwa Ibom.
“That is absolute balderdash!” he said.
“If other Nigerians don’t want to expose their own, what is wrong with us exposing our own? We are a very enlightened community in the Oro nation. Every family now in Oro should be able to boast of at least a graduate, and yet somebody would come and say ‘why is he singled out?’
“If other people don’t care, we care here about the quality of representation.”
Mr. Iyanam said besides the forgery charges, the lawmaker’s representation at the House of Representatives has been below standard.
He accused the former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, who is now the Senate Minority Leader, of imposing Mr. Ekpenyong on the people during the 2015 general elections.
“Imposition means that your scrutiny would be less because you are being imposed by one person. Imposition may not last when people are vigilant and are ready to take the fight to the end,” he said.