By Jonathan Ugbal
Former Cross River Governor, Chief Clement Ebri has denied news making the rounds that he said the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winnifred Oyo-Ita is a victim of witch hunt by a cabal in the presidency.
Mrs. Oyo-Ita is been investigated for alleged fraud dating back to when she was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Special Duties during the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
And, Ebri who is reported to have said she was a victim in a political chess game told CrossRiverWatch in a statement that he never granted such interview.
“I enjoin the anti graft bodies to make haste slowly,” Ebri told CrossRiverWatch in a statement.
He argued that, “Mere suspicion should not constitute a death sentence.” Also, he wondered why many were quick to condemn Mrs. Oyo-Ita when investigations were ongoing.
A fact check by CrossRiverWatch shows that the former Governor never granted such interview.
The link shared by people had the headline “Oyo-Ita, Victim Of Witch-hunt By Aso Rock Cabal – Ebri.”
It was shared using the ‘Opera News’ browser and had Chief Ebri’s picture as the feature image.
When this reporter clicked on the link, it showed that the story was published by INDEPENDENT Newspapers. The byline in the story is that of Mr. Nsa Gill, a one time Secretary of the Cross River Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.
But, the current feature image as at Sunday evening was that of Mr. James Ebri, a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress and one time gubernatorial candidate in the State for the defunct political party founded by the noble laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Democratic Front for Peoples’ Federation (DFPF).
CrossRiverWatch News Editor explained that the editor on duty may have erroneously used Chief Ebri’s photograph and later realised the mistake.
“When most online editors for national dailies see a headline with just a name, they tend to assume it is a particular person. Also, the error could be from the lack of an image thereof. While the most popular of the Ebri lineage is the former Governor, since other Ebris have not made impact as he has in terms of the percentage of reportage, one might just assume he is the one. Besides, less than half of those who see shared links open them,” he said.
Furthermore, he explained that: “The problem with that digital track is that it becomes difficult to scrub off. You have to share the new link as the old link will still reflect the old feature image and just like damage control, it is difficult to catch up to the damage.”
In the story, the Independent Newspaper reports that Mr. James had said that: “It looks like a situation where somebody is trying to fish for dirt. We know who could possibly set her up.”
Mr. James said the N3 billion been reported was the total budget size of the ministry under the leadership of Kabiru Turami and wondered why the minister was been left out.
“From what they are even saying, there is no direct money linked to her account, they are looking at other people’s account and calling her name instead. I am worried that this thing is becoming a pattern against people that are from the minority area of the country, they cannot fault her in the current job she is doing, they have gone looking for any possible mistake that can be linked and robbed on her,” Mr. James had said.
Controversies have trailed the challenges faced by Mrs. Oyo-Ita who is said to have proceeded on sick leave.
And, one William Eko noted that the “N600m was found in the account of the Project Accountant, Office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation”.
“This is already undergoing investigation. The officer a GL 12 cadre reports to the Director Finance and Administration, who reports to the Permanent Secretary, who reports to the HOS. Where’s the Conspiracy theory coming from and who are the Co-conspirators? The Project Accountant IS NOT THE HOS’ AIDE,” INDEPENDENT quoted Mr. Eko as saying.
Eko also claimed that some aides of the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari were eager to push Mrs. Oyo-Ita out of the way despite still having five years left to retire.
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