by crossriverwatch admin
Men of the State Security Service (SSS) yesterday disrupted and aborted the Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) 7-day conference in Calabar and chased away over 1100 participants.
Our reporter learnt that about 18 heavily armed men of the SSS had stormed Ancilla Girls’ College Calabar, venue of the conference which was also used as the conference camp and in a commando-style, ordered everybody including policemen sent by the Cross River State police command out of the place.
Efforts to arrest the conference organizers, particularly the Cross River State Chairman and Secretary of the organization did not however succeed but most of the participants especially those who were in Calabar for the first time were stranded. Those who could not afford to pay for hotel for the night, found themselves roaming Calabar streets for help.
Speaking to our reporter on the aborted 7-day conference, the State Chairman of organization, Major Eno Okoi Iwara (rtd), said “The SSS mercilessly drove the participants away at the late hour of yesterday.
“Despite the fact that the people were begging the SSS to allow them sleep in the camp for the night, the invaders paid deaf ears. Most of the participants were visitors.
“All the food items, which we spent Hundreds of Naira to buy, particularly those cooked, went bad since there was nobody to eat the food.
“Importers Association of Nigeria is a federal government agency operating in all the 36 states of the country. Our president is Chief Osita Okeke. The State Secretary is Rev. Bomba Samuel. We are men of integrity.
“Other states have organized similar conferences and are now operating fully, but I do not know why SSS in Cross River are antagonizing us. This conference was to train young men and women on how best to carry out our mandate. Our activities are open for everybody’s scrutiny.”
Our investigations reveal that trouble started when the Nigerian Customs Service, in conjunction with the SSS, accused IMAN of being an illegal organization which was trying to usurp and encroach on the Customs’ area of operations.
IMAN was said to have taken the matter to the Abuja High Court in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/GS/113/11 which was decided in favour of the Importers Association.
Despite the judgment, the SSS again struck in June 2013 and August 2013 respectively when they invaded the Association’s office located at the State Secretariat, Calabar, and in each of those visits, the Chairman was arrested, detained for hours, and valuable files carted away.
Iwara told our reporter that incessant harassment by men of the SSS prompted him to institute another case in the Calabar High Court, in Suit No AC/MSC/175/2013, which matter was still pending.
Efforts to reach SSS Director for Cross River, Alhaji Mustapha Sani, for reaction did not yield result as calls to his two mobile telephone lines could not go through.
follow us on twitter @crossriverwatch
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.