By CrossRiverWatch admin
The relentless pressure being mounted by human rights lawyers and activist, Okoi Obono Obla on anti corruption agencies to probe the immediate past administration in Cross River state, seem to be giving the former governor, Liyel Imoke sleepless nights, CrossRiverWatch has reliably gathered.
Chief Okoi Obono Obla has mounted a persistent campaign, calling on anti graft agencies to probe the Imoke administration over allegations of fraud and misappropriation of state funds amounting to Billions of Naira.
Chief Obono Obla wants the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to among other things investigate
1. The ownership of the Songhai Farms Limited in Itigidi, Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State.
2. The N40 Billion Bond which Governor Liyel Imoke claim was issued by the Government of Cross River State to settle loans owed Commercials Banks but which the Federal Minister of Finance and Debt Management Office approved N31.99 Billion.
3. The purchase and where about of a Dash aircraft purchased by the Government of Cross River State from the Government of Rivers State of Government of Nigeria.
4. The expenditure of the 13% derivation allocation to the 18 Local Government Areas in Cross River State for the year 2010 from the Federation Account amounting to N1, 241,833,242.37 but which Governor Imoke allegedly diverted and misappropriated.
5. The expenditure of monthly allocation to Local Government Area Councils in Cross River State of Nigeria from January-December, 2010.
6. The expenditure of the sum of N6.3 Billion which the Cross River State House of Assembly approved for Governor Liyel Imoke to withdraw from the Cross River State Reserve Fund for the construction of the School of Nursing, Itigidi; the Signature Building of the IMT, Ugep and the construction of the Model College, Boki Local Government Area, alleging that despite the fact that N1.5 Billion out of the said N6.3 Billion was approved and withdrawn from the Fund Manager for the construction of the Model College, till now nothing has been done on the project site.
Miffed by the incessant demand for the probe of his administration by Barrister Obla, Senator Imoke fought back by dragging the fiery lawyer and the Cross River correspondent of Thisday Newspaper, Mr. Bassey Inyang to court, to the High Court of Lagos State for libel in Suit No. LO/ADR/124/2015.
According to the court processes which were obtained by CrossRiverWatch, the Claimant (Liyel Imoke) is seeking the following reliefs: (a) Damages including exemplary damages in the sum of N1, 000, 000, 000.00 (One Billion Naira) for libel contained in the Thisday newspaper edition of 20th of April 2015 under caption -“Obono-Obla wants EFCC to investigate Imoke ‘ s Administration”.
(b) Perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and each of them, from further publishing or causing to be published in any manner whatsoever connected or related to the said words or similar words defamatory of the Claimant
(c ) An Order directing the defendants to retract or cause to be retracted the sms aid publication and tender an unreserved apology in the form and manner to be prescribed by the solicitors to the Claimant by publishing same in one full page insertion in three national dailies to wit : This day, The Guardian and Punch Newspaper within 72 hours of the judgment of the Court.
(d ) And such further order or other orders as the Honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of the case.
The claim was filed on the 19th May 2015 on behalf of Liyel Imoke by Kemi Pinheiro (SAN).
But information available to CrossRiverWatch reveal that Senator Imoke is clandestinely reaching out to Obla to appeal to him to soft pedal on his push for the investigation of his administration by anti graft agencies.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that Imoke sent all the Chiefs and some elders in Abi LGA, who met with the Obol Lopon of Ugep, in Obla’s hometown to prevail on his subject, (Obla) to back off.
The Chiefs, CrossRiverWatch gathered met with the Obol Lopon and Obla in Obol Lopon’s palace in Ugep where frantic attempts were made to dissuade the activist from his campaign. An offer of repayment of all the legal fees incurred by Obla was also made by the Chiefs who claimed that Obla was Imoke’s in-law and appealed to him to consider the long standing relationship between the Ugep and Abi people.
Palace sources say Chief Obla turned down the offer insisting on continuing with his campaign for the probe because that was his civic responsibility as a committed citizen of Nigeria and indigene of Cross River state.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that, Imoke who has had several of his aides who worked with him, invited by the EFCC for questioning has also met with the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to intervene in his travails with the EFCC.
A source who did not want to be quoted told CrossRiverWatch that the former governor considers Sanusi’s influence in the present government as a force to use in wriggling out of his present quagmire.
“I think when Barrister Obla started his campaign, Senator Imoke thought that the man was a noise maker. He was also banking on the fact that the previous administration of Jonathan was friendly to him and will not bother to probe anything and they were of course, cock sure that Jonathan was going to win the election again.
But all those calculations have changed and he is obviously under pressure because Obla is not relenting. The EFCC is rounding up his aides and he has actually reached out to Sanusi to see how he can help to get the ears of the President having insulted the President Buhari during his party’s campaign tour in Calabar. I don’t know the details of his consultations with Sanusi but I don’t see him making any headway.” Our source said.
Attempts to speak with the former governor were not successful as several calls to his phone did not connect and text messages to his phone also failed to deliver.
But as aides of the former governor and associates continue to be invited for questioning by the EFCC, it remains to be seen how their principal will wield his remaining influence and contacts to escape an impending clampdown.
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