By Ushang Ewa
Facts are beginning to emerge how a commissioner in Governor Ben Ayade’s government pressured the police to release notorious gangstar, Cyril Bassey and two others.
Oliver Orok, the Commissioner for Sustainable Development Goals is said to have led the charge.
Mr. Bassey was arrested in June by the Anti Cultism and Kidnapping Squad of the Cross River command of the Nigerian Police weeks after he was declared wanted by the state government with a brothel owned by him along Bedwell street demolished on May 28, 2020.
Bassey was arrested alongside Gershom Edem and one other. The trio are said to have cause unrest in the Calabar metropolis as they directed gang activities that led to the loss of dozens of lives.
However, Mr. Orok is said to have led politicians who began lobbying the squad to free them.
“They met with some anti cultism people who refused and then they now decided to go meet the commissioner of police,” a police source told CrossRiverWatch.
Cyril, a member of the People’s Democratic Party was elected council representing Ward 6 in Calabar South while on the run from law enforcement agents. His colleagues were sworn in on June 8, 2020. He is set to be sworn in this week.
And, part of the lobbying was to ensure that the ward is represented in the scheme of things, the source said.
Before then, all those declared wanted by the state government had been charged with murder cases, but sources revealed that Mr. Orok requested that the police change the allegation on the case file of Messrs Cyril and Gershom from “murder” to “suspected cultists,” so they can be admitted to bail in the magistrate court.
“They knew that a case of murder will be tried at the High Court and bail will not be a right. So, they suggested suspected acts of cultism so they can be charged to the magistrate court which although lacks jurisdiction, may decide to hear the matter due to political pressure and admit them to bail,” the source said.
“You know the High Court is a court of process, papers will be filed and things like that. It takes time. But, in the magistrate court, you can make an oral application for bail,” the source added.
The commander of the ACKS, SP Essien Efoli is reported to have resisted such advances insisting that, they be charged for murder.
However, he is said to have been overruled by superiors and they were charged to a magistrate court where they were admitted to bail in mid July and have since perfected the conditions.
Since then, there have been efforts to reach the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission to issue him a Certificate of Return so that he would be sworn in.
The actions of the commissioner is said to have dampened the morale of police officers who participated in the arrest and investigation process.