by crossriverwatch admin
When in May 2007, Governor Liyel Imoke took over the mantle of leadership from his predecessor, Mr Donald Duke, many people thought his tenure will follow the political assassinations, intimidation and oppression which the Duke administration was known for given their closeness as friends and political allies.
Many lives of opposition politicians and their supporters were lost during Donald Duke’s era due to political disagreement including his estranged Deputy Governor, Mr. John Okpa.
Seven years on, Governor Imoke has made history by ensuring that throughout his tenure, there is no record of political assassination. Rather, Governor Imoke has employed consensus and dialogue as ways of solving political differences among the different partisan political players in the state.
He ensured that all those who hold public office were subjected to publicly taking oath to denounce cultism which did not go down well with some elements in his government.
Aptly described as a violent-free governor by the media, Civil Society and Religious Leaders, Imoke’s record of peace as governor is second to none in the committee of States in Nigeria.
No wonder, a senior journalist with Thisday Newspaper, and Cross Riverian, Mr Jude Okwe, who is known to be fearless and outspoken, pointedly told Imoke and the audience during a recent media parley with the Governor that “If there is anything you will be remembered for beyond your rural transformation as the governor of Cross River State your Excellency, it is the peaceful nature of your politics that you have displayed so far in your administration.
“I have been in this State long enough as a journalist and during your tenure till date I have not reported, read or heard of any political assassination. This cannot be said before you because I know what happened in the previous administrations particularly your immediate past.
“You are a good man from a good home with a good heart, may God Bless you.
As encomiums are being poured on Imoke in his 7th year of governing Cross River State, the same cannot be said of his Deputy, Mr Efiok Cobham, whose appearance alone speak violence.
Efiok was alleged to have groomed some violent boys both in Calabar South and Odukpani local government who always do his bidding underground and terrorize his political enemies.
It is believed in several quarters that it is the fallout between him and these thugs who feel he did not fulfill his own side of the bargain in their dealings that led to the kidnap of his aged dad in 2013 at gun point in his country home in Creek Town.
Also to remember about the deputy governor was the role he played in Calabar South on who becomes the Muri Munene of the Efuts and Paramount Ruler of the local government. The prolonged matter which has been ruled upon by an Appellate Court in favor of a candidate the Deputy Governor does not want is yet to be obeyed.
As the Chairman of the State Conflict Resolution Committee, he has resolved no conflict in a record of time.
What about the alleged annexation of lands in Calabar South by the deputy governor using the arsenals of government including physical violence.
The recent harassment, intimidation and threat by Mr. Efiok Cobham, the Deputy Governor of Cross River State to kill the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch, Mr Agba Jalingo in Calabar for a story the online portal published which Mr. Cobham considers offensive to his person, leaves much to be desired.
The threat to Agba’s life on May 29, Nigeria’s Democracy Day when the nation was celebrating fifteen years of democratic rule in Nigeria is undemocratic, uncivilized and unbecoming of a Deputy Governor of even a ‘crisis state’ let alone a peaceful state like Cross River State.
We call on the Cross River State Governor, Mr Liyel Imoke to call his Deputy, Mr. Efiok Cobham, who like the governor is also a lawyer, to order. There must be a conducive atmosphere in Cross River State that will allow journalists to do their constitutional responsibility as the watch dog of the society.
We maintain that the work of journalists is a necessarily ingredient that enhances the growth of the democratic process. The days that state terrorism stunted the growth of information dissemination are certainly over in Nigeria and that reality must be absorbed by public officials in our state.
As a lawyer, the Deputy Governor should know that there are laid down procedures and statutes for seeking redress where you feel you have been maligned by a media organization and none of the laws include threats, intimidation and harassment.
We condemn in strong terms this act of Mr. Efiok Cobham, the Deputy Governor of Cross River State and we advise the people of Cross River State to watch out for those who become their elected representatives in any capacity in 2015 so as not to jeopardize the platform of peace put on ground by Governor Imoke which has started yielding investment results to the citizenry.
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