Corporal Irene Ani – Assaulted by Cross River Chief Whip, Detained by Police For Speaking to Press
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Corporal Irene Ani – Assaulted by Cross River Chief Whip, Detained by Police For Speaking to Press

Kola Sodipo, Commissioner of Police, Cross River State

by crossriverwatch admin

Kola Sodipo, Commissioner of Police, Cross River State
Kola Sodipo, Commissioner of Police, Cross River State

The Police in Calabar yesterday detained Corporal Irene Ani who was on June 16th brutalized by the Chief Whip of Cross River State House of Assembly, Hon. Uduak Akiba, for “talking to the Press”.

Hon. Uduak Eyo Akiba, Chief Whip of the Cross River State House of Assembly who represents Calabar Municipality state constituency, allegedly pounced on Corporal Irene who was on duty at the State House of Assembly quarters for not allowing her son and a friend to drive a hired cab into the assembly quarters as ordered by the assembly leadership.

Corporal Ani who sustained a deep cut on her right cheek from the assault had told CrossRiverWatch that: “The lawmaker’s son and his friend brought a taxi to the Assembly quarters and we stopped them at the gate and told them that taxis are not allowed into the Assembly quarters but the boys insisted on taking the taxi into the quarters and ordered the taxi to drive in and when the taxi came back, we locked the gate but Inspector Magnus asked us to allow them go out since they have finished what they came to do in the quarters.

“Uche, the Peace Corps Officer with us opened the gate and the taxi drove out but no sooner had the taxi driven away that Uduak Akiba emerged from the quarters towards the gate quarreling and shouting demanding to know ‘who is that fellow that asked my son not to enter the quarters with a taxi? and pounced on me since I was sitting near the door and punched me several times on the face and tore my uniform”.

The police woman said when she tried to explain to the lawmaker that she was trying to enforce the directive, of the Deputy Speaker, Hon Itaya Nyong, the lawmaker who is obviously aware of the order still went on punching and raining blows on her and “dragged me by the neck, warning that I should respect her as a senior legislator who has the same rights and privileges like the deputy speaker.”

Mrs. Ani, who was later released today, added that, but for her colleagues on duty and some residents of the quarters who came to her rescue, “The woman would have strangled me because she grabbed my neck and held it tightly with my uniform”.

Hon. Uduak also denied the allegation and claimed it was a scuffle between her and Corporal Irene.

In a telephone chat with CrossRiverWatch, Hon. Akiba said it was not true that she punched and slapped Mrs Irene Ani as widely reported by sections of the media.

“I never slapped her. On the contrary it was the policewoman that attempted to slap me after slapping my son. A cab brought my son to the assembly on Saturday evening but the policewoman stopped the cab from going into the assembly.

“I quite agree that cabs are not allowed beyond certain point but my son introduced himself but the policewoman said she would not care whose son he was; she insisted that the cab must reverse out of the complex for him to trek the long distance. I am told that a hot argument ensued between her and my son and she first slapped my son several times before my attention was drawn.

“And when I came to the scene and intervened, she actually attempted to slap me too when I chastised her. I only blocked her slap. That’s all that happened.” Akiba claimed.

An authoritative source in Diamond Hill who did not want to be named told CrossRiverWatch yesterday that “Yes, she (Corporal Irene Ani) was arrested and detained. The Police force is not a civil rights movement. We have hierarchy here. If every officer is allowed to talk to the Press, there will be disorderliness. We have a public affairs department and a PPRO that are supposed to speak to the Press. Corporal Ani had to be disciplined according to police rules so as not to encourage other unauthorized officers and men from always running to the press when there are issues that can be dealt with from within.”

CrossRiverWatch findings also reveal that the Police is yet to take any action against Hon. Uduak for assaulting the law officer.

The outgoing spokesperson of the Command, CSP John Umoh told CrossRiverWatch that he has been transferred to Enugu State and had already resumed so he will not be able to speak on the matter.

But a lawyer and rights activist, Mr. Osita Chinedum told CrossRiverWatch that “Her detention only amount to intimidation by a police force that is incapable of standing up to politicians to hold them accountable for their actions but will rather sacrifice their own to please politicians.

“It is the right of all human beings to cry out whenever they are unjustly or feel unjustly treated particularly when you work in a place like the Nigeria Police where the force is not able to protect the interest of their junior officers. The Police is just trying to shut other junior officers down. But I will encourage more to come out and speak when they feel they are being cheated. The press is the best place to go if their senior officers cannot protect them. Mrs. Irene has done something good. The Police must move fast and see that Hon. Uduak is brought to book for her animalistic behavior”.

It would be recalled that during her first tenure in 2007, Hon. Akiba publicly engaged a fellow lawmaker, Dr. Pauline Ekuri, whom she once served as personal assistant when Ekuri was Commissioner for Women Affairs, inside an aircraft in the presence of the State First Lady, Mrs. Obioma Imoke while returning to Calabar from Abuja where they attended a function. She was suspended for three months over the fight.

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