Politics is indeed an interesting game as it has severally been used to reveal secrets and bring to public knowledge the various actions and inactions of people perpetrated in secret.
A letter of petition sent to the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party Screening Panel for the Cross River House of Assembly (Odukpani State Constituency) Cross River Southern Senatorial District has the caption:
Notification of the conviction of Mr. Augustine Ekeng Okon, for a criminal offense under section 81 of the criminal code which prohibits him from participating in the election process of the People’s Democratic Party.
The petition was filed by Mr. Asuquo Andrew B. through Ebek Ekere and Co. From the petition, the petitioner has a fair knowledge and who Mr. Augustine Ekeng is as he went ahead to supply information of voter’s card number, his polling unit, political party, ward, and other details.
According to the petition, Mr. Asuquo fears that should Mr. Augustine eventually emerges as the party’s flagbearer, he will be disqualified as he cited relevant provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria of 1999 as amended.
Records at our disposal reveal that the said judgment which Ebek Ekere and Co cited was a case before the Customary Court of Cross River State, Odot/Eniong District, holden at Ndon-Nwong in Suit No: CR/3/2000.
Extracts of the said judgment read thus: This 10th day of April, 2000 Before Ch. Emmanuel E. Okon – President; Ch. Okon A. Okon – Mem; Orok E. Etim – Mem; Between Asuquo Ntia Nyong – Complainant Vs Augustine Ekeng Okon – Accused
The complainant is present in the court but accused is absent without any reason. The arbitration panel applied for more days. This court has granted him more 7 days and the accused person is also warned(ib) not to disobey order of this court next time. The both parties are to report back to this court on the 17th day of April, 2000. Hence this case is adjourned(ib) to 17th day of April, 2000.
In accordance with criminal code section 81 (Cap 42) and whereas this matter was reported as a criminal matter to this court, whereas the findings in this court have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused persons have committed the crime. Here, the accused persons 1 and 2 have been found guilty of the offense, and this court has cautioned and discharged them. The accused person should pay the cost of the case of N450 forthwith.
When our reporter put a call to Mr. Augustine Ekeng about the matter, he argued that he was not convicted, has never been convicted in his entire life, and cannot be branded with the label of an ex-convict. He asked that the part of the judgment be read to him which according to him, being asked to pay for the cost of the case and not for damages, special damages, or prison sentence does not amount to conviction. In short, “I have never been convicted. What you are seeing there is pure lies”.
When pressed further on the matter, he first resorted to threat that he has consulted with his lawyers and he has been advised properly to file for litigation against anyone that will publish an article against him as related to the case. Mr. Ekeng was informed about the rudiment of journalism which seeks balance reportage. His next line of action was accusing our reporter of being paid to carry a publication. He later apologized for his outburst which he said was because he was called earlier by another reporter in another medium on the same matter.