Hello, am I unto Agba Jalingo of CrossRiverWatch?
Yes sir, you are.
My name is Ajala, calling from Cross River State Police headquarters, Diamond Hill, Calabar.
Ok. How are you and how can I help you sir?
I was at your office this morning to invite you for questioning in our office but your office wasn’t open. What time do you open?
We are always open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. But what do you want to question me about Police?
There is a petition against you from customers of Cross River State Micro Finance Bank. There is a story you people wrote in your paper that the bank and customers complained that is affecting their business. We want to hear from you.
Ajala, let us assume but not concede that what you have said is true; that is a civil matter. It’s not a criminal matter. If the bank feels aggrieved, they will just ask their lawyers to sue CrossRiverWatch. We are a registered media house. What’s the business of the Police in a civil matter sir?
When you come to the station, we will talk about that.
You will need to come again to our office tomorrow by 9am and drop your invitation for me because I am not in Calabar at the moment. I insist on getting a formal invitation stating the reason for my invitation. When we get it, we will react.
That is the summary of my conversation with Ajala, the Admin Officer in the office of the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, who called me from the Police headquarters, Calabar yesterday evening.
Now, click this link to read what I wrote about the Cross River State Micro Finance Bank.
You must be wondering just like me, why the Police want to question me over a matter that, even if we were wrong, it’s the bank that should have sued us.
I will tell you why. Because the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade allegedly instigated the petition from the faceless petitioners, because I still doubt that the bank is transacting any business in that place on Marian road, unless after our report.
Prior to that time, CrossRiverWatch sent people to the rented apartment housing the bank not far from our office, repeatedly, to make enquiries and we only met two persons (a gateman and another lady) who weren’t helpful on the occasions we visited. Simply put, no banking activities were ongoing there. After our report, we haven’t visited again to know whether anything has changed but we still will.
Let me remind the reader that, the same Police last week, during the #RevolutionNow protest, arrested 2 editors of CrossRiverWatch, Jonathan Ugbal and Jeremiah Archibong, who just went to cover the planned event in Calabar. The protests didn’t hold. The State Correspondent of The Nation Newspaper, Nicolas Kalu, was also arrested with our editors. But The Nation correspondent was set free at 12midnight and the two editors of CrossRiverWatch remained detained for additional 24hours until they were charged before a magistrate in Calabar for unlawful assembly. The court has since granted them bail. We later found out that all of chain of events were been allegedly orchestrated by the State Governor.
There is no doubt that CrossRiverWatch has been very critical of Governor Ayade’s Government in recent times. We understand how our investigative reportage of his Government has frustrated several of Governor Ayade’s wanton decisions. He has refused to remove me from his lips even in public events. The Governor is reasonably upset and poised to “deal with me.”
He has shopped fruitlessly for what to rope me with and it appears the shopping returned empty and obviously, the Police in Cross River State have made themselves a willing tool in the hands of the Governor in his bid to dog after my heels.
I want to once again make some clarifications, namely that:
1. As I said before in my previous writings, I have never doubted for once that Governor Ayade has the capacity to get me arrested, molested and thrown in jail, if he wants to; after all, he is Governor but that will last only as long as his time in office.
2. Governor Ayade should know that instigating the Police to run after me or our editors or even reporters, will not solve the problem on the ground. It won’t silence me. I won’t become afraid for God has not given us the spirit of fear. I won’t be cowed because I haven’t done anything wrong by pointing out what is going wrong in our State. The only solution is for him to run the State more transparently and accountably.
3. I am not a criminal and will never run away from cops. At least not in this lifetime. When they do the needful, I will go to Calabar and see the Police, if our lawyers so advice.
4. Even if I am in jail as Governor Ayade wishes for me now, God in Heaven knows that I still will not stop talking and raising those thorny issues about Governance in our State, which is exacerbating his calm. Every visitor who will come visit me in prison will return with a news item.
5. Even if the Police continue to cooperate with the Governor in this wild goose chase and succeed in getting me into jail, I won’t be worried because every un-merited suffering is redemptive. It is the Governor that will be diminished by my incarceration. I won’t die. But he will leave office one of these days.
6. CP Austin Agbonlahor who has decided to play politics with Police work in our State should know he is not lord to himself. He is a public servant who is answerable and accountable to his seniors in the Police and the courts. He will now be ready to answer to his superiors and the courts, because our lawyers have also gone to work. We are petitioning the AIG Zone 6 Calabar and the IG of Police over these unnecessary harassment of our media organization by the Police in Calabar and more …
7. Let the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Martin Orim who is allegedly coordinating all these shenanigans know that we are aware of his role in this whole saga and we are documenting same.
Lastly, someone should tell the governor to stop chasing shadows. I am not his problem. His problem is his lack of capacity to allow others function well within his space. His problem is that he wants to run the State alone without Commissioners and elected Council Chairmen. His problem is that he wants to run the State like an unquestionable monarch and several more. Those are the things he should ponder over. We in CrossRiverWatch love our State just like the Governor does and we will not be able to close our mouths when things aren’t going on well in the State.
The 1378 days remaining may look like a long time, but by next year end, Senator Gershom Bassey, Honorable Daniel Asuquo and several others who are angling to take over from Ayade will all have their own convoys and sirens blaring in that small Calabar and sharing the attention with him. He will then commence the battle for a successor and Governance will be relegated till his time will end abruptly, as always.
If he wants to continue running after me, then even the little he can still salvage will be lost in time and fuse via his repeated own goals. But we will wait him out, either in freedom or in jail.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.