A church in Akwa Ibom State, Glorious Life Ministry, has appealed to the First Lady of the state, Martha Emmanuel, to urgently clear her name on the financial scandal that is currently rocking Itu Local Government Council.
The Transition Committee, which is saddled with the responsibility of administering the local government area, is split between its Chairman, Elsie Esara, and three supervisors over the allegation of mismanagement and stealing of public funds.
The three supervisors who are up in arms against Mrs. Esara are Ubong Edem (Works), Kufre Ema (Special Duties) and Emem Uboh (Health).
The trio, in a petition sent to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, accused Mrs. Esara of mismanaging the funds that have been accruing to the local government council.
“(She) deceives and misleads members of the Committee that the internally generated revenue meant for the council was used to settle bills on behalf of the First Lady of our dear state,” the supervisors said in their petition.
Apart from the governor’s wife, Mrs. Emmanuel, the supervisors stated in their petition that the Itu transition chairman also claimed that she has been sharing the council money to influential citizens from the area like Anietie Okon, a former senator; Idongesit Ituen, who represents the area in the state House of Assembly; and Akan Okon, Commissioner for Special Duties in Governor Emmanuel’s cabinet.
The petition claimed that Mrs. Esara also mentioned the member representing Itu Federal Constituency, Dr. Henry Archibong, one Effiong Okon, a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and one Victor Okon, another PDP stalwart as being among those who benefit from the unlawful sharing of the council funds.
The secretary of the council and one more supervisor later joined the fight against the embattled council chairman.
Neither the state government nor the governor’s wife, Mrs. Emmanuel, has reacted to the scandal since it broke out several weeks ago.
“Her Excellency’s silence over the issue isn’t the best thing to do in this situation,” Mboutidem Israel, the Senior Pastor of Glorious Life Ministry, said on Wednesday during the church mid-week service at Osongama, Uyo. “Silence will always be construed to mean yes, especially by your enemies.”
Pastor Israel, who stopped half way into the service to talk about the state of affairs in Akwa Ibom, said that people supported the Emmanuel administration because they believed that as an “outsider” the governor would do things differently and restore hope in the politics and governance in the state.
“The story we are hearing from Itu is shameful. It’s a big shame that in this period of economic recession where people are even committing suicide because of hardship, a few people could still sit down every month to share money that belongs to an entire local government, all in the name of politics,” the pastor said to the congregation.
“It’s unfortunate and we feel saddened that Her Excellency Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel’s name is associated with what is happening in Itu.
“She (Mrs. Emmanuel) is one woman that we respect and cherish because of her godly works, especially her passion for helping the poor, but if you are a friend to people who steal from the poor masses and you are also benefiting directly from the stealing, it then means that you have brought shame to your name.
“I wish someone close to her would advise her to urgently speak up and clear her name before further damage is done.
“Let nobody be deceived, if you are a politician, a civil servant or whatever, and you steal public funds that would have gone a long way to help the poor to get some help, you would have attracted God’s anger and punishment to yourself, your family and everything that belongs to you,” the pastor said.
The Itu transition chairman, Mrs. Esara, on Thursday appeared before the House of Assembly during plenary to explain why she couldn’t honour the summon of the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and why she filed a case in court against the House.
She said she was “ill-advised” by the former senator Okon to sue the House. She apologized to the House.
The House is expected to take a decision on the Itu crisis during their next sitting on Tuesday.