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ICPC gets court’s nod to investigate Cross River Assembly member

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By JAMES EZEMA

A Member of the Cross River State House of Assembly, (CRHA), Mrs. Itam Virginia Abang has failed in her bid to get a Federal High Court sitting in Calabar to stop the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), from investigating her for alleged corrupt practices and abuse of office.

Dr. Abang, had filed for an injunction to restrain ICPC from investigating an allegation of receiving double salary simultaneously from both the Federal Government of Nigeria through the University of Calabar and the Cross River State Government through the state’s Rural Development Agency where she was holding an appointment as Director, Health Infrastructure.

According to a statement by the Spokesperson of the Commission, Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa, in a ruling, Hon Justice I. E. Ekwo held that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit and directed that the case be transferred to the High Court of Cross River State for hearing and determination.

However, findings by Unity Times indicate that Mrs. Abang, representing Boki 1 State Constituency, was accused of fraud in a petition to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Chief Ferdinand Bette Enu, the petitioner through his legal counsel, A. A. Malami, SAN and Co. in a petition to Mr. Ekpo Nta, Executive Chairman of ICPC dated February 24th 2015, stated that, “At the instance of our client to report to you for investigation in your capacity as Chairman of ICPC, the fraudulent payment of salary in the months of January, February and March 2008 by the authority of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) Cross River State to one Dr. Itam Abang even though she was no longer a staff of the university”.

Furthermore, the petitioner revealed that, “Dr. Abang was a lecturer in the Organized Research Institute (IPPA) of the University of Calabar until she was appointed a Director in the Cross River State Rural Development Agency (CRS-RUDA) in or about November, 2007 by the Governor of Cross River State”.

According to the petition,Mrs. Abang had applied to the authority of the University of Calabar to grant her leave of absence without pay which was granted. After technically ceasing to be a staff of the institution, “she was fraudulently paid and she indeed collected the salaries for the month of January, February and March 2008”.

“Contemporaneously, Dr. Abang was also fraudulently paid and she indeed collected salary from Cross River State Rural Development Agency for the months of March and April 2008 respectively”, the petitioner alleged.

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