By Jonathan Ugbal
Cross River Attorney General (AG) and Justice Commissioner, Barrister Joe Oshie Abang has threatened the Managing Editor of CrossRiverWatch, Mr. Jeremiah Archibong and legal practitioner, Barrister James Ibor for exposing an alleged bribe of 2 million Naira to dismiss a suit of extra judicial killings against 4 dismissed policemen.
Abang in a flurry of text messages sent to Archibong on Sunday threatened to deal with him and join him in a lawsuit against Ibor after Archibong had contacted him to respond to allegations that he collected the sum of 2 million Naira to return a “no case” file to discontinue proceedings against the 4 dismissed police officers.
Abang who did not take his calls at first, sent a text message asking “who pls” at 1:56 PM on Sunday which Archibong responded introducing himself and asking him to comment on the allegation of the bribe twice at 1:56PM and 1:57PM.
Abang replied him at 2:13PM. The message read: “I don’t practice law on Facebook and won’t want to do so now (sic)”
Another message came in at 2:26PM which read “as these powers been questioned except in Calabar? Well he will go to Abuja to face the LPDC you may wish to follow him there. I treat millions of files and don’t get to meet the people so maybe he brought the money to me pls ask him.” Taking it as his comment, Archibong filed in his story which was published.
After sending a message to Barrister Ibor claiming he runs the State Ministry of Justice from his personal pocket, at 2:59PM, the AG sent the first threat to Archibong which reads: “His prosecution is starting tomr. I hope you don’t want to join him because the Disciplinary Committee of the NBA will also withdraw his license to practice! The powers of the AG are enshrined in the Constitution and all Lawyers who are worth their certificate knows better. Never in the History of Nigeria.”
At 6:32PM, he sent another message which read “I have seen what you posted on facebook and have asked my Lawyers to include you in the suit since you are published Libelous and defamatory materials on print media without verification which God bear me witness is false and an attempt to smear my reputation. Where will a policeman get 2m at this hard time to bribe a self made man like me? The battle has just begun and lets see who wins, God is my witness and will put all of you to shame! Afokang still has space so let me see how God vs Satanic forces who wins.”
He sent this message again in two instalments with the first which came in at 6:47PM and the second beginning with ‘time’ at 6:54PM.
Archibong now replied with the message that: “Ur response is the confirmation that we contacted u [sic]” at 7:13PM which he replied with “Before your publication? You must be an illiterate. Wait for me! God will put all of you to shame before the end of this week trust me! [sic]” at 7:26PM.
However, Archibong told this reporter that “Fear is not in my DNA Jonathan and you know it, let him go to court. The court is not a firing squad, it is where people with grievances go to settle in a civil way. It is his right and I respect that just as I respected his right to a balanced, truthful, fair and objective report which is why I contacted him to comment on the allegations. Cross Riverians have a right to know why he discontinued proceedings and whether or not, he collected a bribe as a serving public official who is being paid with taxpayers money.”
Findings by this reporter also showed that the Attorney General may have abused his powers as CrossRiverWatch had reported that a Police orderly room had investigated, found guilty and dismissed Inspector Unoh Egwu, Sergeant Peter Njoku, Corporal Bassey Okim and late Inspector Uche Aligu for torturing to death, one Stanley Etim while in their custody.
The Police further arraigned their dismissed colleagues in court only for the Attorney General to enter a no case submission in favor of the accused who have since been released.
While it is trite that no one can contest the powers of the Attorney General or the exercise of those powers to discontinue a trial, the Supreme Court in a judgement concerning the powers of the Attorney General, had also subjected those powers to ultimate control by public opinion.
According to the apex court, “The pre-eminent and incontestable position of the Attorney General, under the common law, as the Chief law officer of the State, either generally as a legal adviser or specifically in all Court proceeding to which the state is a party to, has long been recognized by the Courts.
“In regard to these powers, and SUBJECT ONLY TO ULTIMATE CONTROL BY PUBLIC OPINION and the LEGISLATURE, the Attorney- General has, at common law, been a master unto himself, law unto himself, and under no control whatsoever, judicial or otherwise, vis-a-vis his powers of instituting or discontinuing criminal proceedings – Per Nnamani, JSC (Amaefule & Anor v. The State).
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