By Archibong Jeremiah
The Cross River State Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Asu Okang has denied ordering the shooting of two UNCAL students and one CRUTECH student peacefully protesting the delay in disbursing the Cross River @50 anniversary largesse (10 million naira) given by Governor Ayade.
Asu Okang spoke to journalists in Calabar shortly after visiting one of the victims at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) while the other two were said to have been taken to traditional bone experts in Yakurr local government area of the State.
His words: “How can I order the shooting of the students, I couldn’t have ordered the shooting of students and then still go back to the hospital and see them. It sounds very abnormal.
“Those students came out in solidarity with our Government that I serve in as Commissioner for Youth. I invited them that we are rolling out the drums for Cross River at 50 so let’s come out as young people to celebrate the State.
“You know the way these things happen. His Excellency the Governor in his magnanimity saw the turnout of young people, with the joy he said I’ll give you a wholesome 10 million naira, it was a promise he made in the stadium, it wasn’t premeditated, the Governor ordered the Commissioner for Finance to make the money available for students through the office of the Commissioner”, he said.
Continuing his narration, the Commissioner added, “I then marched with the students back to my office which was the rallying point where we had taken off from. By the time we got there you know the bureaucracy that is involved to withdraw such money, I called the Commissioner for Finance a number of times for over 30 minutes with no response which he later explained that he was on a long call with the Governor and that he was at somewhere in Channel View hotel.
“I then went there, at the point where we needed to kick off payment you know we left the stadium at around 4pm so youths were already waiting till about 6pm. Some of them who heard the promise started getting agitated because the money did not come out on time but I know the movement of cash from the Accountant General to the Commissioner for Finance then to us.
“So what I simply did in my thinking which to me was the right thing to do was that since I had about 3 million that was due for payment of the contractor who supplied the computers at the job center in my car it was just normal to start palliating the situation while the other process is still on, eventually the money was released to me at Channel View at about 8pm, while we were going through all these processes waiting for the money to be released I heard that some of them moved out.
“Clearly that particular student I saw there was very aggressive, I remember one or two people calling him together, I remember his face vividly, I remember one of my SA going to him saying look what is wrong with you, you need to relax”.
Furthermore he said: “I blame the officers on duty for daring to take arms against students, I heard it the way you heard it, I was at channel view, I’m sure we will get to the root of the matter. The Ministry is taking care of the bills, we have made a deposit of two hundred and fifty thousand naira and we intend to monitor the situation”.
Concluding he maintained that for those that have gone to traditional doctors for treatment the Government is not in support of it and will not be responsible but will take all actions necessary to get them back to the hospital.
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