By CrossRiverWatch admin
Prince Jeremiah Ashang, from Obanlikwu LGA in the northern part of Cross River State has alleged that the assault he suffered in the hands of armed security men in Obudu in the early hours of Saturday, July 18, 2005 was ordered by the Chief of Staff, COS to Cross River state governor, Hon. Martin Orim, even as the Chief of Staff has swiftly denied the allegation and described it as blackmail.
Prince Ashang who said he was in Obudu on the day for the burial of a former Secretary to the State Government, Ukandi Ogar, told CrossRiverWatch that an argument ensued between his cousin and the driver to the COS, over a room in a hotel where he had made reservation for his uncle and in the course of the argument, he alleges that the Chief of Staff ordered his security details to him to beat him up and shoot him.
In a telephone chat with CrossRiverWatch, Prince Ashang alleges that: “We were all in Obudu for the burial of the former SSG, Ukandi Ogar and I made reservation for three rooms at Gramics Hotel along Ranch road in Obudu. After the burial ceremony in Igwo village, around 1am on that Saturday, I returned to the hotel in company of my cousin and his father. But surprisingly when my cousin took my uncle to check into our reserved rooms, he discovered a man we later found out was the driver to the Chief of Staff in one of the rooms.
“The hotel people said the gave out the key to him thinking he was one of the guests I was expecting since I did the reservation for the three rooms only in my name. The place was actually jam parked because of the burial. It was a big burial. When my cousin approached the man and tried to find out what he was doing in the room, he began raining curses and attacked my uncle. It was in the process of trying to sort things out at the front office that the man identified himself as the driver to the Chief of Staff to the Cross River state governor.
“I was still trying to settle in, but my cousin, having learnt that the COS is around the premises of the hotel, in the bar precisely, he proceeded to report the matter to him in the hope that he will call his driver to order.
I later learnt from the receptionist that while my cousin was explaining his ordeal, one Peter Atianshe Akpanke, who works with the EFCC and was seated with the Chief of Staff accosted my cousin and asked what audacity he had to walk up to their gathering to report such an incident.
“In the heat of the argument, the Chief of Staff was said to have stood up and angrily ordered that his security to immediately take charge. The security aides proceeded to pounce on my cousin, the hit him with their booths, gun butts, and also sprayed teargas into his eyes whilst shooting sporadically and causing chaos in the neighbourhood.
“Upon hearing the commotion, I stepped out of my room to find out what was going on and immediately Peter Atianshe Akpanke saw me and identified me as the cousin to the person the police were assaulting, the Chief of Staff again ordered his security aides who were Police men to assault me. They beat me up mercilessly, tied me up, sprayed tear gas into my eyes and bundled me into their Hilux Truck.” Prince Ashang alleges.
But the Chief of Staff, Hon. Martin Orim denies the assault claim and described it as cheap blackmail and a cocktail of lies.
In a statement to CrossRiverWatch, Orim said the entire account of the alleged assault as narrated by Ashang is riddled with half truths, contradictions and outright falsehood.
He said this was a clear case of the aggressor playing the victim, saying it was Ashang and his gang who actually assaulted his driver.
“I neither assaulted nor ordered the beating of Ashang or anybody else for that matter. This man is clearly out to blackmail me. But in his hurry to tar me and malign my person, he exposed himself for who he truly is. A liar.
“While in one breath he claimed I ordered my security details to beat him, tie him up and bundle him into a Hilux van, in another breath he said he fled for his dear life after I purportedly ordered that he and his cousin should be shot. I am wondering how a man who was supposedly tied up and thrown into a Hilux van, could have made such an escape.”
Orim said it was actually Ashang and his gang that actually assaulted his driver after they forced their way into a room where his guest was, claiming the said room the hotel staff had checked in his guest, was reserved for them.
The Chief of Staff who said he refused to be dragged into the confusion that ensued thereafter, accused Ashang of cheap blackmail.