The deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom State, Benedict Ukpong, voluntarily retired from service as deputy director, engineering services, Federal Capital Development Authority, on December 22, 2014, more than 60 days before the April 11, 2015 governorship election, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively confirm.
PREMIUM TIMES is in possession of a document which shows that the FCDA authorities actually responded officially on January 14, 2015 to Ukpong’s letter of voluntary retirement.
“Sequel to your request for voluntary retirement from the services of the Federal Capital Development Authority and your payment of one month salary in lieu of notice, I am directed to convey the Honourable minister’s approval of your voluntary retirement from service with effect from 22 December, 2014,” the Director, Finance & Administration, A.U. Yakasai, said in a letter he wrote to Mr. Ukpong on behalf of the executive secretary of FCDA.
These revelations put to rest the controversy that Mr. Ukpong was still working with the federal civil service when he paired with Umana Okon Umana to contest the governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.
The law requires that civil servant seeking to contest election for public office must first resign from the service 30 days to the polls.
Even after Mr. Ukpong’s retirement, the FCDA was erroneously still paying in money into his salary account, which he refunded as well as notified them of the error.
This, according to APC, is what Peoples Democratic Party is holding on to to accuse the APC deputy governorship candidate of not resigning his appointment before 30 days to the April election.
“But the point really is that after Ukpong voluntarily retired, it was not his business to worry about how the FCDA administered its payroll,” said Mr. Iboro Otongaran, Director, Media and Publicity, Akwa Ibom APC Governorship Campaign Organisation.
“If for the reason of the tardiness of the federal bureaucracy the FCDA did not update its payroll, a retiree from the organisation should not and cannot be held accountable for that failure.”
Mr. Otongaran said PDP tried to bring up the issue as an application before the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, but that the tribunal refused to accept it as part of PDP’s response to Mr. Umana’s petition.
“Rather than this frustration-induced vilification by the PDP, Ukpong should be commended for uncommon act of integrity of refunding the wrong payment given the fact that he had the option to keep the money and advise the FCDA to deduct it from his yet-to-be paid retirement benefits whenever they are computed,” Mr. Otongaran. said.