By Sylvia Eta
The immediate past governor of Cross River state, Senator Liyel Imoke was barred momentarily from accessing the stage set for a select group of top government officials during the ground breaking ceremony of the 260 kilometres superhighway by the President yesterday.
It is unclear what delayed Imoke, who joined several past and present governors to welcome President Mohammadu Buhari at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, from arriving the Akamkpa site for the ground breaking till after the President’s arrival.
The President’s convoy arrived at about 12:37 pm and was cheered to the stage where the instrumentals of the National Anthem was rendered from a recorded stereo followed by an opening prayer which while ongoing, Imoke was spotted walking with a security aide towards the stage and was stopped briefly till the prayer was over before proceeding only to be stopped again by one of the security aide of the President in suit at about 12:42 pm who told him he won’t be allowed to access the stage.
Imoke’s own security aide could be heard by this reporter telling the Presidential security aide his principal’s portfolio but the words it seems, fell on deaf ears as another Presidential security aide joined his colleague to prevent Imoke from stepping any further further.
Not even the intervention of some politicians could see Imoke gain entrance while incumbent governor Benedict Ayade was addressing the crowd. He was later taken up via another route and sat on the front row beside the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V.
While the unsavoury scene was ongoing, our reporter could hear discussions among watchers with some claiming he deserved the treatment following his reported refusal to allow the then All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate, Mohammadu Buhari to access the U.J Esuene Stadium for campaign purposes, whilst some blame the state chief of protocol claiming his arrangements were not up to standard.
A third group however argued that it is against state protocol to allow anyone access the vicinity of the principal after his arrival and is seated.
Similarly, the Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Tina Agbor was also barred momentarily from climbing the stage half an hour before the President’s arrival and was also stopped from welcoming the President and his entourage which despite resistance was returned to her seat humbled to await Buhari.
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