By Jonathan Ugbal
Following the botched arrest of Oscar Ofuka, Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River on cocoa development at the premises of the Cross River Broadcasting Corporation in Calabar on Tuesday, more details have emerged about how ego and flouted agreements led to the heated situation.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that the gestapo styled arrest was based on the petition of retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Joseph Mbu, a native of Etung over Mr. Ofuka’s activities in his Local Government Area.
Mr. Ofuka is said to have been invited by the Okuni Area Command of the Nigerian Police. It remains unclear whether he intended to honor the invitation with the actual date not available as at press time.
Policemen were then dispatched to effect his arrest on Tuesday morning – which created a scene at the premises of the Cross River Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC).
Staff members said the gunmen did not show either an identity card or warrant of arrest which led to the struggle with one in plain clothes using pepper spray to deter staff of the CRBC.
“They came in three vehicles. They were about 10 in number. The Red pickup where he was put in and two small saloon cars including one Toyota Yaris which showed the way,” one staff (names withheld) told this reporter.
Mr. Ofuka is said to have pleaded to finish an event scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at CRBC premises with the Deputy Governor billed to attend before honoring the invitation which the gunmen claimed was at the Akim Area Command.
“He pleaded with them and even asked for the Area commanders number to call and plead for time since the Deputy Governor was already on his way but they refused and began dragging him. That was when Sunny Inah stepped in to ask why they were maltreating him and they threatened to shoot him,” a female staff who witnessed the events said. Mr. Inah is a senior correspondent of the CRBC.
However, a staff member who drove behind them, said they stopped momentarily at the Akim Area Command and did not come out of the car. “They then drove off with him,” the staff said.
The red colored Ford Ranger with tinted glass and registration Abuja KWL – 318 PP was then intercepted by a team of Anti Cultism and Kidnapping Squad and men from MOPOL 11 Squadron led by the Commissioner of Police, Sikiru Akande at the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan bypass.
CP Akande confirmed Mr. Ofuka’s release to CrossRiverWatch. “(The) gunmen that abducted Governor Ayade’s aide on Cocoa, Osca Ofuka, are policemen from force headquarters, Abuja, acting on a petition. But Ofuka has been rescued because of the manner he was taken,” Akande said.
As at press time, staff of CRBC Calabar who awaited his arrival and that of the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu for the flagging off ceremony for cocoa distribution which was scheduled to hold before Ofuka’s arrest had dispersed and the decorations removed.
How It Started
In a yet – to – be – published interview with CrossRiverWatch, AIG Mbu accused Ofuka, Governor Ayade and the Attorney General of the State, Tanko Ashang of trying to intimidate him over his stance that the State honors the agreement it entered with the host communities of the Cocoa estates.
“Governor Ayade cannot intimidate me. Ayade can’t intimidate me. When I left UNILAG with a Second Class Upper he was in Secondary School. I am a world acknowledged Police Inspector General. I spent 31 years in service and served everywhere. One full year post Cadet ASP. I didn’t jump, I didn’t lobby for postings,” Mbu said.
Explaining the Cocoa deal, Mbu averred that: “Cocoa landlord communities took the State Government to court over default and neglect. There was an out of court settlement. Terms were accepted by both parties and signed. The allocation committee will have a representative from the community. Cocoa will be leased out in this format; 70% of the farms to indigenes of the communities and 30% to non indigines. This was to reduce restiveness.
“Oscar Ofuka did the opposite. He allocated only 20% to landlord communities and 80% to non indigenes. Revenue from the lease is to be shared as follows; 70% to the government and 30% to communities. So, for every NGN100 million, NGN30 million goes to landlords. Since 2019, (that) Oscar took over, he has not remitted NGN1 to the landlord communities. This is my offence for asking for over NGN300 million for our people. This is why all sorts of accusations are being levelled against me. But I am dogged.”
According to Mbu, this was what led to the State hanging a murder case on him.
“Why did Ayade and Tanko (Ashang) suddenly remember I have a murder case? You know why? Because I wrote a lot about his misrule until Honorable Chris Mbu Ogar of CRSHA (Cross River State House of Assembly) flew to come and plead with me to pause.
“They have suddenly remembered because I have asked Oscar Ofuka to render an account of the NGN300 million royalty that is supposed to be paid to our people, the cocoa producing landlord communities in Etung. Because they are part of the kleptomaniac circle they want to intimidate me. Thank God Ayade, you are not President Buhari.
“We will shock you with facts of those in your family partaking in our royalty money and account numbers. Staging a mock war in ICE Cocoa estate in order for the estate to be swallowed like other Cross River State properties will not happen. Oscar Ofuka has promised to give you what he is not the owner of. I will resist it.
“How is it that on cocoa estates, it is the AG who writes and not the Honorable Commissioner for Agriculture? Long throat.,” Mbu said.
This led to the banishment of the Paramount Ruler of Etung, HRH Ntui Atue Dr. Emmanuel Oru Ojong with a fine of NGN10 million placed on his head.
But, the Cross River State Judicial Panel into Police Brutality and Restitution led by retired Justice Michael Edem in its resolution on petition number JUD/PAN/INQ/O57/2020 dated November 4, 2021 ordered that AIG Mbu should allow the monarch to return to his community and spend Christmas with his family.
In the petition, the monarch had claimed that on December 24th, 2018, the retired police officer ordered his men to shoot at a masquerade parade which led to the death of Ayuk Etta Ogon.
“In January 2019 AIG Mbu preferred 20 trumped up charges against our client, found him guilty and fined him 10 million naira, 4 live cows or else our clients cocoa farm would be seized.
“On the 8th February 2020 caused the broadcast purportedly exiling our client from Abia community.
“AIG Rtd MBU has harassed and intimidated our client using policemen and our client had to run away from his domain and is presently seeking refuge in Ikom,” the petition read.
But, Mbu in his interview said the exiling of the monarch was an act of his peers and pointed at the suspension of the monarch by Governor Ayade as evidence.
Ayade’s aide on Chieftaincy Affairs, Adoga Victor had in a statement, dated May 28th, 2021 disclosed that the monarch was suspended in line with the “Cross River State Traditional Rulers Law No. 30 sub section 2 (sic) of 2004,” and suspension was due to “unwholesome activities” that have “threatened the peace and stability of Etung.”
In Court And Investigation Ongoing
CrossRiverWatch gathered that the investigation is still ongoing at the State command of the Nigerian Police Force at Diamond Hill with all parties been questioned.
Meanwhile, Government House sources say the Cross River State Government has since filed a murder suit against Mbu.
In suit number HC/40C/2021 filed in the High Court of Cross River State, and signed by the Director of public prosecution, M. I. Itittim, Esq, the State accused Mbu of killing Ogon in connivance with some security aides attached to him along Ndung stream road in Bendeghe Ekiem on the eve of Christmas 2018.
While initial reports suggested that he pulled his pistol to shoot Ogon, recent reports suggest that Ogon was hit by a stray bullet and died while his brother was shot in the leg.
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