Edem Bassey, Calabar
A critic of Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade’s government and All Progressive Congress (APC) Chieftain, Paul Efere has been arrested and detained at the Cross River State Police Headquarters, Diamond Hill, Calabar on allegation of cultism and kidnapping.
The suspect was arrested in Abuja and drove to Cross River State, where he was taken straight to the cell at the Police Headquarters, Diamond Hill, Calabar. The APC Acting Chairman in the State, Mr John Ochala told Daily Times that the arrest was political and not criminal as alleged.
“Paul Efere is an APC stalwart, he is a social critic, he has been fighting for good governance in Cross River State, he has nothing personal with anybody. 99% of his assertions are right, there are all what people see in the state and called for correction.
He said Efere’s arrest was engineered by the government of the day, “You remember the case of Joseph Odock, the case of Hon Paul Adah, the case of Venatius Ikem, this is their own method of preparing for 2019, instead of them facing governance, they are busy intimidating innocent people.
“Is it a crime to say, Mr Governor govern well, stop putting bailout fund in the account of your brother, is it a crime to say, be prudent in management of resources. Efere is one of the respected members of All Progressive Congress (APC) and he has been very vocal, he is one of the few media personalities who have been on the case of present government in the State, even the blind can see that we are being miss-governed in the State and Efere is one of those who have always being putting this miss-governance in front burner and call for a change for better.
Ochala revealed that Efere was arrested in Abuja, handcuffed and drove to Calabar where he was thrown into a cell without his lawyer and family members having knowledge of where he was. “If there is any challenge or you want to clarify anything from him, why don’t you invite him to the Police station, why do you go in a juxtapose manner to arrest a free citizen of the federal republic of Nigeria, hand cuff him as a common criminal.
“They did it in such a discreet manner, from Abuja to Calabar, he got here by 3am, Thursday. They wanted to bring him here without the knowledge of anybody and my fear is that they should not poison him in the Police custody. Anything that happened to him would be at the door steps of Governor Ben Ayade and the Police. It is very disheartening that in a democratic society such thing could still happen.
The APC Chairman asked, “What has Paul Efere done? Is it a crime to say that you should not put the bailout fund in the private account of your brother? Is it a crime to shout that there is nothing like co-governor in the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria? Is it a crime to shout that you are appropriating to yourself and family members as well as your cohort landed property of water board? Is it a crime to say that all MoUs, none is working and non is functioning? Is it a crime to say that your own people in Obudu have been cut off from National grid for two years because of efforts to make personal gain?
“Paul Efere has brought all these to the fore and he has been very responsible in doing that and in proper manner. I see no reason that, if he has something to answer, they cannot do it legally, the way and manner Efere was arrested leave much to be desire.
“He was tricked to a position where he was arrested as a common criminal, handcuffed and drove from Abuja to Calabar. If they have any case with him, he has a right to see his lawyer and friends and family members. It is true God intervention that we got to know that he is at Police Headquarters, Diamond Hill. But till now, 3pm we have not been able to set our eyes on him, we do not know if he is hearty and healthy, we tried to reach him at the command but we were denied, he lamented.
The Counsel to Paul Efere, Barrister Utum Eteng whom our correspondent saw at the Police Headquarters, lamented that he has made frantic efforts to see his client but the efforts yielded no positive result but he however said that the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of CID has promised to see him by 6pm.
“The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of CID has told me that she was yet to have discussion with him and after that she will see me. She asked me to come by 6pm. But from what I have seen, Paul Efere may be package to be detained till Monday but when I meet her, I will mention to her that the issue of bail. He has not committed murder neither was he an armed robber, no matter the offence, it was abailable one, he stated.
When our Correspondent contacted the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Ms Irene Ugbo, she confirmed the arrest and detention of the suspect noting that he was declared wanted by the Commissioner of Police.
“He is a suspect, the Command declared him wanted and he was picked in Abuja and taken to Calabar to answer the charges of kidnapping and cultism levelled against him”