Akwa Ibom Assembly denies receiving N910m from Govt for Thanksgiving Service

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has denied that its members received a whopping N910 million from the State Government to conduct Thanksgiving Service in their respective State Constituencies.


On Sunday June 20, all the House members visited churches in their constituencies for thanksgiving service to mark the second Legislative Year of the 7th Assembly.

A local tabloid, the Ink Newspaper on Tuesday June 22, alleged that each member received N35m for the event.

But Rt. Hon. Mark Esset, member representing Nsit Atai State Constituency, who brought the matter to the floor of the House, condemned the publication, claiming that the media house was out to tarnish the image of members of the House.

Esset charged the House to take up the matter to serve as deterrent to other media houses who may intend to publish such information in the future.

The member representing Esit Eket State Constituency, Hon. Usoro Akpanuso, who moved a motion for the matter to be adopted and deliberated upon on the floor of the house, said that the false publication, if not properly managed, may cause the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to lose elections in the state as the people may see the party as one that squanders public funds.

The House Leader and member representing Oruk Anam State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian Akpan, warned that media organisations should be wary of stories like this, which he said can set members against their people and family members.

“If it was during the EndSARS protest, our houses would have been raided by hoodlums by now,” he added.

Also speaking, member representing Ini State Constituency and Chief Whip of the House, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Bassey, who described the matter as very sensitive, wondered where the paper got the information from. He said that the misinformation was capable of exposing the members to attack by criminals.

The member representing Ibesikpo State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko, said that the false information was a campaign of calumny against members of the House. According to him, by the publication, the newspaper had diverted from journalism to entertainment.

Speaker Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Aniekan Bassey

Other lawmakers who took turns to condemn the publication were member representing Ikot Abasi State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Uduak Udoudoh, member representing Eket State Constituency, Rt. Hon. David Lawrence and member representing Etinan State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Aniefiok Dennis Akpan.

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Aniekan Bassey, who charged media organisation to be constructive in their criticism, referred the matter to the House Committee on Judiciary as a matter of Threat to The Lives of House Members.

Meanwhile, spokesperson of the House and member representing Etinan State Constituency, Barrister Aniefiok Dennis Akpan, who briefed the media earlier, said it was just a figment of the author’s imagination.

“I just woke up this morning to see a news item that the Governor gave each of us N35m to do thanksgiving service. None of us has received a dime to that effect. If I had such money, I would have painted Etinan white. My colleagues could have done same in their constituencies too.

“My advice to journalists is that they should not jump on any gossip they hear. Some are outright lies. I urge them to take time to investigate first before rushing to publish. Who approved the money? Who signed and collected it? These are questions they should have asked,” he said.

Barrister Akpan said that beyond making laws, the lawmakers go as far as paying hospital bills, school fees and even building houses for their constituents.

“I wish we even got the N35m, I know how many school fees and medical bills I would have paid for my people. The pressure is much on us, but we are doing our best,” he added.

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