Why Governor Imoke Must Distance Himself From His Deputy BY OBONO OBLA

In Columnists, National News, Opinion

by crossriverwatch admin

Barrister Obono Obla
Barrister Obono Obla

The editorial of the CrossRiverWatch titled “CRWATCH EDITORIAL: Imoke’s Peace Deal In Cross River, An Antidote Of Efiok’s Belief” in which the non violent approach of Governor Imoke towards the resolution of political misunderstanding and dispute was analyzed, applauded and commended, is apt and instructive.

However, the editorial roundly and stridently condemned the violence predilection and disposition of the Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Efiok Cobham in uncertain terms.

I entirely agree with the sentiments expressed by the writers of the editorial especially the point the behavior of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham towards his opponents and detractors is totally out of sync with the behavior of his principal, Governor Liyel Imoke.

Donald Duke who was Governor of the State between 1999-2007 was an authoritarian and reputedly a ruthless ruler who brooked no dissent and opposition from any quarters during his eight years reign in Cross River State.

Duke employed the instruments of State power such as the Police and the State Security Service to hound and deal mercilessly and ruthlessly with his political opponents and detractors alike. A lot of political opponents were killed during Duke’s administration.

The most notable was the assassination of Chief John Oyom Okpa. Chief Okpa, was Deputy Governor between 1999-2003 when he was impeached by the House of Assembly on the instigation of Governor Duke after a bitter political row and tussle ensued between them.

Chief Okpa was waylaid and murdered with his driver and younger brother on his way to attend a political meeting in Delta State by assassins. It is suspected that some people in the administration of Duke were the masterminds of the murder of Chief Okpa but we were told that Chief Okpa died by motor accident. It is instructive during this period the State Secretary of the PDP was Mr. Cobham.

It was this period that the likes of Mr. Cobham in league with Duke and their retrogressive elements unleashed a reign of terror in the State hounding, harassing, intimidating and killing political opponents in the opposition. I remember how the hotel of Major Akpang Obi Odu, notable politician and retired military engineer, in Ogoja, was burnt down by miscreants on the pay roll of the Cross River State Government. Major Odu’s only offence was that he opposed the obnoxious policies of Duke.

I recall how the amiable Honorable Daniel Asuquo was arrested on the ground of spurious allegations leveled by Donald Duke and illegally detained for nearly two years for belonging to the defunct APP. I recall the death of Prince Eyo Okon Eyo, the then Chairman of Akpabuyo Local Government Council.
He was allegedly poisoned by agents of the then Government of Cross River State.

It is therefore wrong for Mr. Cobham to be given charge of Conflict Resolution programs of the State. I remember how Governor Imoke appointed Mr. Cobham, Chairman of the Committee on Resettlement of the Conflict between Ebijakara and Ebom Communities in Abi Local Government Area in 2011 but till this moment the Committee has woefully failed in the execution of the mandate of the Committee.

The hapless people of Ebijakara who were routed, sacked and expelled from their ancestral homelands in January 2006 by a militia recruited and armed by Ebom. How can Mr. Cobham who obviously does not believe in non violence approach towards resolution of conflict be saddled with such a mandate?

I agree that Governor Imoke is humane, peaceful and gentle. Governor Imoke does not hound his political opponents, detractors and critics. Governor Imoke respects the human rights of every body. He has seamlessly lowered the political climate of the State since he became Governor seven years ago.

For instance each time we met in the plane or airport and I walk towards him to greet him, he is always friendly, polite and warm towards me despite the fact I am one of his virulent critics. But why does Governor Imoke seemingly enjoy the company of some very brute and wicked people. Yes, there are some very mean, crude, wicked and ruthless people around Governor Imoke and in his administration!

How does he feel having such despicable people around him? Governor Imoke should distance himself from the likes of Mr. Cobham if he truly wants us believe that his gently, amiable and friendly disposition is not a facade.

Remember Governor Imoke is a friend of former Governor Duke. Was there any point in time that Governor Imoke when his friend, Duke was Governor confronted or drew his attention to Duke’s excesses?

Has Governor Imoke reprimanded Mr. Cobham over his assault on Agba Jalingo in the House of Hon. Bassey Eko Ewa in Calabar on the 31st May 2014?

Okoi Obono-Obla

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