Cross River state governor, Prof Ben Ayade, is to appear in court today over the creation and establishment of ministries of aviation; foreign affairs; and solid minerals, which pundits say is within the exclusive powers of the federal government.
A constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, First Baba Isa, had in January dragged the governor to the Federal High Court in Calabar, presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda. Isa is asking the court to determine the legality or otherwise of establishment of such ministries
He had sued Governor Ayade, the government of Cross River state, the Attorney General of Cross River state and three (3) others, vide an originating summons, and prayed the court to declare the action of the governor in creating the ministries of aviation, foreign affairs and solid minerals illegal and unconstitutional.
Our reporter gathered on Sunday that Mr Tanko Ashang, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, would appear for the governor and for himself after he had filed and signed counter affidavit and preliminary objection for the governor and other defendants. The aviation commissioner, Jake Otu Enya, had earlier filed a rejoinder.
A statement issued on Sunday by Mr. Isa’s legal team called on “Journalists, rights activists and good governance advocates” to be available in court to witness how the matter would be handled.”
However, the state government had always insisted it had not broken any known law over the creation of those ministries.
In an interaction, Asu Okang, Commissioner for Information, said the new ministry of foreign affairs was mandated to harness foreign investment opportunities.
“The governor has made quite a number of foreign trips in the last four years, there were some encumbrances because there were other engagements, sometimes more than five functions in a particular state of visitation. It became very important that the governor needed another person who would speak of the government perspective and engage investors as it were at any point in time.
“Cross River is an independent state of its own under the federation. A state has the right to source for foreign investors for its own state.” He stated, and explained further that the governor had earlier planned to establish the defence ministry and that of internal securities but dropped the idea because of the exclusive list issue.
Also speaking, aviation commissioner, Dr Jake Enya reasoned that “the mere use of the words ‘aviation,” and ‘foreign affairs,’ had not been found to have breached the provisions of section 5(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.”