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Rivers State: 2022 Heralds Worsening Condition of Governance, Says APC

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The Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress said it was long expected that the very bad governance of Gov. Nyesom Wike will further slide as 2023 general elections approached, adding that what was not envisaged was the speed and how early in 2022 things would plummet leaving hapless Rivers people and residents with the short end of the stick.

The opposition party in the State recalled that, “the year began with a New Year broadcast by Gov Wike serving warning how he intended to fight illegal crude oil refiners in Rivers State. Ordinarily, the announcement was received with animated enthusiasm by all, at least, believing that the action would bring the persistent soot bedeviling our lives to an end.”

According to the APC, “in the melodrama that ensued, the governor and his men embarked on some kneejerk discovery and destruction of some refining sites and equipment. After a few days, the governor yielded the fight to the local government bosses. How well the fight is being conducted and the expected positive result appear to pale into insignificance while the soot is still ravaging our lives.”

In a statement signed by the party’s spokesman, Senibo Chris Finebone referred to the rediscovery of what the governor had earlier ‘discovered’ on assumption of office in 2015.

The statement reads: “Faced with the attraction of having a second aircraft to aid his godfather status in PDP, Gov Wike suddenly remembered that the Rivers State owned Legacy 600 aircraft sitting somewhere in Germany would be handy. He decided to create some drama around the aircraft so that Rivers people and Nigerians get talking while he sneaks the refurbished aircraft into Nigeria for the use of his party during the approaching campaigns. Thinking of himself as a smart artful dodger, he plotted that act such that we all will be thanking him for playing Mungo Park to the aircraft while his party people use it at the expense of Rivers taxpayers. But like they say, there is never a perfect crime. Gov Wike forgot that he had addressed the press on June 20, 2015 speaking extensively on the location of the two State-owned aircraft. He had said one aircraft was grounded at the Port Harcourt Airforce Base and the Legacy 600 somewhere in Germany. Then he had promised and did send someone to Germany the next day being 21st June, 2015 to confirm the status of the Legacy 600.

“Suddenly, in 2022 the governor announced seven clear years after, that he just discovered (maybe rediscovered) a state-owned aircraft spirited away to Germany by his predecessor through unexplained intelligence. But we caught him red handed! Hardly had he finished his announcement when a journalist sent a link to a publication dated 21st June, 2015 where a national newspaper reported Gov Wike’s speech on the same aircraft about a month after he was sworn in as governor in 2015. This lie by him was effectively busted!

“The governor said he had already spent over 3m Euro on the Legacy 600. But concerned Rivers people query why the governor should profligately spend such a humongous sum of money on an aircraft with very high total cost of ownership (particularly high operating cost due to age). But Rivers’ people mean nothing to the governor. He is bent on spending our common resources under his control as he pleases as long as he will use the aircraft for campaigns as against the intention of his predecessor to fix the aircraft and sell it off to stem further financial hemorrhage on the state coffers. After all, Rivers State is governed by a ‘big boy.’

“It was disheartening to be greeted on the social media this morning by a group of elderly men and women singing and praying to God for divine intervention so that Gov Wike may pay them their gratuity and pension even as many of them have already died for lack of subsistence and medical care. Many might be wondering why a state whose governor doles out hundreds of millions of Naira to faraway states has refused to pay gratuity and pensions to senior citizens of his own State who spent the best part of their lives serving the State. But it is what it is! We have watched some families that hitherto lived well, now scrounge to have one meal a day because they are not paid their due pensions.

“Meanwhile, residents of a number of waterfront communities numbering over 100,000 have been rendered homeless and destitute after one week quit notice the governor gave them. Their plight is further worsened by the fact that the action was put into effect in the very difficult month of January.

“However, most annoying is the feeble and mindless attempt by the government to liken the present ejection of those waterfront dwellers to what happened at Njemanze and Abonnema Wharf waterfronts during the administration of Wike’s predecessor. But the government is being clever by half by suppressing the fact that what happened at those two waterfronts was well structured and properly thought through in the sense that all residents and landlords were enumerated and landlords compensated well in advance before the areas were legally acquired by the government then. There was no case like that of a 90-year old woman named Madam Brown singing and placing curses on Gov Wike for rendering her homeless on earth.”

Senibo Chris Finebone

State Publicity Secretary

Rivers APC

10//2/2022

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COLUMNISTS

Pendulum: I Said A Prayer for President Talon

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www.securenigeria365.com

BY Dele Momodu

Fellow Africans, please lend me your eyes and ears. I have just experienced a pleasant surprise in a place I least expected, Bénin Republic, just a stone throw from Nigeria. Believe me, I actually said a word of prayer for President Patrice Guillaume Athanase Talon, the 63 year old President of Bénin, his wife, Madame Claudine Gbenagnon, their children, Karen and Lionel, and their unborn generations, for making Africa proud by their spectacular performance in power. I’m prouder that President Talon is a Taurean like me, also born in May and about two years older than me.

I’m sure you all know how difficult it is to find African leaders worthy of adulations talk less of prayers. The last time I found one was in 2016 when President John Dramani Mahama wowed me with his extraordinary projects in Ghana. I had screamed his names on the rooftops and many politicians got angry and jittery and jealous and envious. I didn’t mind because the color of truth is always constant. I thought it would be difficult to find another Mahama in West Africa except President Macky Sall of Senegal, a country I first discovered in 1992, during an unforgettable trip to Goree Island with Chief Moshood Abiola. Lately, though a Nigeria, I saw a brilliant in Port Harcourt, where Governor Nyesom Wike has scattered everywhere with monumental projects.

Let me confess that my curiosity about President Talon had been aroused by my very dear Brother, Wole Omoboriowo, sometime last year. He had regaled me with tales of how President Talon is transforming Bénin at the speed of light. It sounded too good to be true and I must have subconsciously felt Wole was just being hyperbolic. Where would Bénin find such resources from, I had soliloquised quietly! If Nigeria with all its natural resources and mountains of debts has nothing tangible to show, I reasoned Bénin would be the most unlikely of places to witness such sporadic developments.

What was more? I had tried to establish the French version of Ovation International magazine in Bénin in 2006 but the country became too small for our dreams. We couldn’t make money and we had to be subsidizing our operations, as if the subsidy syndrome had followed us from Nigeria. Most painfully, we had to shut down our beautiful and magnificent waterfront office at the Marina. As a pan-Africanist under the influence of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Walter Rodney, W. E. B. Du Bois, The Nwalimu Julius Nyerere, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Amilcar Cabral and others, my dream had always been about how to unite African economies. This utopic ambition has burnt my fingers several times in different parts of Africa but I remain undaunted and unbowed.

The Cotonou I returned to was just too refreshingly different. I took extensive drive around the city and could almost not recognize most parts. My God, please, continue to imbue your son President Talon with vision and wisdom and courage to do what is needed and right for his people. I was dazed like a kindergarten baby seeing Father Christmas for the first time. I can confidently confirm that Nigerian leaders should be ashamed of the backwardness in our own country. Lest I forget, the road from Lagos to Cotonou remains under perpetual reconstruction and painfully rough, undulating and dangerous. Once we crossed the Seme border into Cotonou, it was a totally smooth ride till we came back. We did not see a single checkpoint manned by desperately greedy officers and their accomplices who looked more like ghommids out of D. O. Fagunwa’s Forest of a Thousand Daemons (Wole Soyinka’s translation of Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole). Without exaggerating, the Nigerian side must have had over 20 checkpoints with all of them openly extorting money from their helpless and hapless victims. This nonsense and eyesore must be scrapped urgently. And by the way, the same extortion continues in leaps and bounds at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

President Talon became President in April 2016 when he sprung a major upset by winning election as an independent candidate, a rarity in most parts of the world. His emergence and remarkable performance confirms my long held belief and theory that it is difficult for full time career politicians to develop a nation. My thesis is simply that power should always be handed to mostly those who have had records of personal accomplishments. No leader can give what he does not have. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Dakar and barely missed attending the National School of Aviation in Paris after failing his medical test. But God must have had other fantastic plans for this wonderful child of Destiny.

Rather than allow this setback to his dream weigh him down, Talon moved on with equanimity and forayed into trading, packaging and agricultural products. He planted his Intercontinental Distribution Company, Societe Distribution Intercontinentale, suppliers of cotton products. He later established cotton factories in Bénin. Before ascending the seat of power, he was listed as one of the top 20 richest Africans.

His audacious move into politics did not appear feasible or promising to many onlookers but he shocked the world when he came second in the first round of the elections against then Prime Minister, Lionel Zinsou but Talon miraculously won the second round with a whopping 65% of the votes cast and interestingly the Prime Minister conceded defeat. It was the beginning of a new lease of life for the people of Bénin, formerly known as Dahomey.

Talon had hit the ground running from the moment he was sworn in. The business acumen in him was instantly on display. He announced the composition of his government same day he was sworn in, an impossibility in most governments of Africa and he did the uncommon by appointing two of the co-contestants , Pascal Koupaki and Abdulakeem Bio-Tchane, who had backed him in the second round, to key positions… This was how he succeeded a government of national unity, in principle. After serving his first term in office, he sought re-election and won by a landslide of 86% of the votes, almost as good as unopposed.

Since no human is perfect, opposition leaders have accused him of dictatorial tendencies. His war against corruption has been smolderingly merciless. But his supporters insist he would have failed like most African leaders if he treated issues of corruption with kids’ gloves. They support him unconditionally and he’s reported to have built a new and expansive prison for criminals and “saboteurs.” According to my good friend Alberto Koumagnon, aka Alberto Dinero, an unrepentant fan of President Talon, “this is the best President we’ve ever had in Bénin no matter what anyone says.” We drove round the city and I could not believe my eyes, like a victim of optical illusions. I could see a palpable look of national pride in my friend who could have easily passed for the Minister of Information the way and manner he reeled out endless stories about the plans of Talon to transform Bénin into a modern wonder. For example, the national airline being contemplated and the newly expanded airport in Cotonou are just truly admirable.

Bénin is home to a huge of population with Nigerian ancestry, especially members the Yoruba race, who continue to worship their traditional religion and deity in its pristine form. There’s even a national declaration of holiday for the Orisha. Sango is one of the most popular of the deities, the reason the Grammy Awards winner, Angelique Kidjo’s popular song was dedicated to Sango. In an interview she granted me in London about 25 years ago, she confirmed her fascination for the Yoruba gods.

I’m excited to witness and feel the progress Bénin has made under the leadership of the visionary President next door to us while we continue to wallow in primordial politics. I pray God would open our eyes to see the need for fresh leadership with great ideas and the determination to succeed where others failed…

A SEASON OF COUPS IN WEST AFRICA

Only God knows what’s going on in different parts of the West African subregion but it is obvious that coup d’etats are back in vogue. While I do not want to bore you with details of countries that have recently succumbed to the jackboots of ambition solders, I must however note some of the reasons for this return to the madness of the past, POOR LEADERSHIP. African leaders have consistently punished their people out of greed and selfishness. They’ve been largely corrupt and irresponsibly reckless.

For me, it is a sad development and a potential descent into anarchism. Africa is already too far behind in the comity of nations. We may be heading towards a cataclysmic Armageddon if do not apply the brakes as soon as possible….

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COLUMNISTS

Rivers Aircraft: Amaechi Refutes abandoning State’s aircraft in Germany

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The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi , has refuted claims from Governor Nyesom Wike, that he dumped an aircraft owned by Rivers State government in Germany.

Speaking on behalf of the former Rivers governor, Tolofari George, a former Commissioner of Transport, in a statement titled “Rivers Aircraft: Again Wike Lied against Amaechi” on Wednesday 26 January, 2022 said that it is not possible that a plane that was properly documented in the handover notes of the State ministry of transport to the incoming administration in 2015, can be said to have been abandoned

The statement reads: “Once again, in his characteristic mischievous style, Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike has sought to malign and attack his predecessor and erstwhile benefactor, the Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi by making false allegations.

“This time the governor claims that his predecessor secretly abandoned an aircraft belonging to the Rivers state government in Germany.

“The lie in the Rivers State Government rant is so obvious. It is simply not possible that a plane that was properly documented in the handover notes of the State ministry of transport (which I supervised as Commissioner) to the incoming administration in 2015 can be said to be secretly abandoned? How?

“When we got the new aircraft that the current government is using now, the  older Legacy aircraft was sent to Germany for repairs and refurbishment and then to be sold to generate revenue for critical infrastructural projects in the state. To the Previous administration, there was no economic sense to keep and maintain two State planes. The cost was just too prohibitive, so the plan was to sell off the older Legacy plane.

“The plane was still in Germany at the time we handed over to the incoming administration. Everything was in the handover notes of the ministry of transport.

“In 2015 when the new administration took over, they claimed the same aircraft had been stolen. Today, they are now saying again that the aircraft was secretly abandoned.

“We can now all see that the issue is purely political and vindictive, hurling false allegations on the previous administration. That the Legacy aircraft was in RUAG, Germany was written in my handover notes that is in the custody of the Rivers state government.

“In 2015 when they made an issue of Rivers state having two aircrafts, and that one has been stolen, I issued a press release which reiterated that the aircraft was in Germany.

“Sometime last year, a staff of Rivers State government got in touch with me, asking questions about the aircraft. I clearly told him where it was. So, I just don’t understand what this current fuss is about?

“We couldn’t have taken an aircraft to Germany and just dump it there and walk away without proper and formal documentation. Is RUAG, Germany a dumping ground?

“I recalled that Rivers State government had made an issue of the new aircraft currently in use, having a United States registration number, accusing the past government of wanting to steal the aircraft.

“They accused us of doing an N registration for the sole purpose of wanting to steal the aircraft. They made so much fuss at the time. But till date, which is nearly 7 years after taking possession of the aircraft, they are still using the the same foreign registration. Why haven’t they changed it to Nigerian registration?

“The whole information about that aircraft – the Legacy plane, was in the handover notes prepared by the ministry for the incoming administration in 2015, including the fact that the plane was to be sold, because it was more economical to sell it off.”

Tolofari George

Former Rivers State Commissioner of Transport (2007-2015)

January 26, 2022

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COLUMNISTS

Iniubong Umoren: The Wicked Attempt to Link Her Death to Akpabio Family Will Fail

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The country was recently awash with the sorrowful story of the heinous crime of kidnap and gruesome murder of the innocent job seeker and University of Uyo graduate, Iniubong Umoren recently somewhere in Akwa Ibom State.

Nigerians were shocked to their marrows when it became apparent that one Frank Uduak Akpan was responsible for not only raping her but killing and burying her in a shallow grave somewhere in the State. The police declared the said Frank wanted but arrested his father who was suspected as an accomplice when it became apparent that Frank was on the run. As God would have it, he was eventually arrested through the effort of one Kuffre Effiong and the police who lured and promised him that he will receive the co-operation of the police if he is innocent as he originally claimed.

It is of utmost interest to note that Frank’s arrest was somewhere in Shelter Afrique Junction, Uyo, not in a hotel or a house of anybody.

This story is so tormenting and horrendous that emotions naturally went high when the sad news was broken both on the traditional and social media. The prayer of everyone was that whosoever was responsible for this heinous act for whatever purpose should be brought to justice and no one born of a woman who has blood running in his veins will want this kind of crime to be covered up, no matter the personality/ties involved.

However, it is astonishing and profoundly wicked for any being, let alone a trained journalist to sit in the comfort of his home or office in far away America and concoct lies just to drag the name of Senator Akpabio and his dear wife in the murder saga just to satisfy whosoever is paying him for that kind of “dirty job”.

At what point does fiction transform into a reality and to what end can any sane being market cock and bull story to un-discerning members of the public? It is still shocking that mere conjectures of a journalist have been made  to develop a life and be termed factual without any shred of evidence linking the crime to the Akpabios. The only snag in all these though, is that marketing fictions today through the social media has become the pastime of evil doers and the un-discerning members of the public have become so gullible that these tortoise  stories are taken in, line, hook and sinker without any pinch of salt.

In a short while, we will analyse this story as put out by this David Hundeyin who is said to be a Nigerian Investigative Journalist  resident in America from where he has perfected his nasty habit of running people down with his fictional stories about matters he has no knowledge of, maybe for money or just to garner fame. Reading many of Hadley Chase books is very good, but the danger is when the reader cannot distinguish between fiction and reality.

By the way when his lies fell like pack of cards, he is alleged to have  hurriedly pulled down the story of linking senator Godswill Akpabio  and his dear wife to the murder allegation from his blog or someone’s blog by name Newswirengr where he titled the story “Murder in Uyo: Who Killed Hiny Umoren?” He has a right to refute the story of having pulled it down.

In his report, the journalist claimed that he analyzed the telephone calls of the prime suspect in the murder case, Akpan . According to him, Akpan called a number of people after the murder of the female graduate. He  stated that the said Kuffre Effiong works with Niger Delta Civil Service. He further alleged that  the  killer and the said Kuffre Effiong met physically at a certain 58G, Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo. His “investigative skill” revealed that Akpan the alleged killer worked for an “illegal organ trafficking ring to feed the booming global black market organ trade”.

His fictional story line continued from his Twitter handle on 11th of May where he further published his falsehood as follows ” It has just come to my attention that Davok Suites, the hotel at the centre of the 58 Unit G/S 9, Unit G, Ewet Housing Estate nexus involving Kuffre Effiong and Frank Uduak is owned by none other than Ekaette Akpabio, wife of Godswill Akpabio”

As evidence of pure insanity occasioned by excessive use of terrible and self destructive drugs, the said David Hundeyin continued,  “In other words, this place where Frank Uduak Akpan, fresh from murdering Ini Umoren came to meet Kuffre Effiong, belongs to the wife of Kuffre’s boss and Federal Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio. So which politician has Kuffre been running errands for?”

Before analyzing David Hundeyin’s super script meant for Nollywood, this writer is very grateful to God that the said culprit, Mr Frank Akpan, his cousin Kuffre Effiong and one Local Government Chairman of Uruan in the State who is a relation to both Kuffre and Frank  are all alive, and happily too the culprit is presently in the custody of the Nigerian Police Authority for proper investigation. These people have made and are still making useful statements to the police authority whom we implore to employ extreme and painstaking professionalism in investigation and come up quickly with their findings, including what steps should be taken to ensure justice to the family of the bereaved. The girl’s death as a matter of fact,  must surely be avenged by the Authorities.

This innocent victim sought to be gainfully employed instead of engaging in anything illegal or criminal like some do,  but met her end in an unfortunate circumstance that demands remedy and justice.

Back to David Hundeyin’s story. He said “he analyzed the telephone calls of the prime suspect and he found out that the suspect called several persons after the murder”. One of the persons he allegedly called, according to him, was Kuffre Effiong who worked with Niger Delta Civil Service. Having found out that the said Kuffre works with Niger Delta Civil Service,  he must have been told by his co-conspirators who specialize in smearing Senator Akpabio’s name to go ahead and link by all means the heinous crime to him in order to make headline and give them a false sense of victory. If only men were God?

In no distant time, his collaborators fed  him another lies that the alleged killer, Mr Frank Akpan met Kuffre in a hotel named  Davok Suites at Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo and they mentioned the address of the place. The Hotel according to him  belongs  to the wife of senator Godswill Akpabio. With that,  he ran to the market with the story that Akpabio and his dear wife were certainly the ones responsible for the heinous murder of the innocent girl, more so since they must have been engaged in his imaginative illicit global market specialising in  trading on human parts!

Fortunately the culprit has made both written and oral statements which the police authority are in custody of. The cousin, Mr Kuffre Effiong has also issued a comprehensive statement on his Facebook Page  which can be seen online by those who want to know the truth and the Local Government Chairman who is in opposing political party with Senator Akpabio has also issued a statement on the incident. By virtue of their various  statements, the following are the emerging truth about this case pending when the  police  will conclude their investigation:

(a) The alleged culprit Mr Frank Akpan, Mr Kuffre Effiong  and the Local Government Chairman of  Uruan are all related as they are cousins. None of them have any relationship with the Akpabios either remotely or directly. None of them has ever met Senator Godswill Akpabio or his wife or their existence known to the couple.

(b) The culprit Mr Frank Akpan was arrested at Shelter Afrique Junction by the Nigerian Police in conjunction with the said Mr Kuffre Effiong, a cousin to the culprit who used his relationship to lure the culprit into police reach for the seamless arrest.

(c) The culprit was taken to the house of the Local Government Chairman of Uruan which is at Ewet Housing Estate in company of the DPO, one ASP and Mr Kuffre Effiong who facilitated the arrest. Taking the culprit to the house of the Chairman at Ewet Housing Estate was the suggestion of the said DPO of the nearby Police Station who felt that it will be a proper place and method to use to calm the suspect down in order to elicit his co-operation.

(d) The alleged Davok Suites, a hotel in Uyo which from the story as stated by the parties in this case  was never utilized either before, during and after the crime, has never been owned and is presently not  belonging  TO THE WIFE OF SENATOR AKPABIO. That the said hotel is alleged to be owned by Her Excellency Mrs Akpabio has been a myth used by the patronizers of the hotel  to boost their ego as to the quality of the hotel they patronize in Uyo. The Akpabios have nothing to do with the hotel in terms of management or ownership. Most importantly in this fictional story of the said Hundeyin,  is the fact that the hotel was never used either before, during or after the crime by the culprit or his alleged accomplices.

(e) To exhaust this issue and make an open show of the concocted cock and bull story of the Investigative journalist David Hundeyin, let me go further to give him the benefit of the doubt that assuming but not conceding that the said Kuffre Effiong, a relation of the culprit who from his own account only assisted the Nigerian Police to arrest the culprit,  works in Niger Delta Ministry, does that mean that any crime he allegedly commits will be attributed to the Minister of the said Ministry? How stupid is that kind of assumption,  especially in criminal jurisprudence which requires mens rea(intention) and actus reus(act of the accused) to establish criminal liability? In the absence of any conspiracy,  direct or circumstantial evidence, no individual can be convicted of a crime he knows nothing about in Nigeria. None here was established in the said story.

(f) Let me extend my generosity further to Mr Hundeyin by assuming but not conceding that the alleged Hotel, Davok Suites is owned by the wife of Senator Akpabio. Will this mean that  any crime committed in the hotel by a user who has no legal, biological or any direct or indirect relationship with the owner will be legally established against the owner of the hotel? In other words, in the absence of any established conspiracy, direct or circumstantial evidence against the owner, can our jurisprudence be suddenly  transformed to hold the owner of a hotel criminally liable for any crime committed using his or her hotel in the absence of any mens rea and actus reus as earlier explained?

Few months ago, I was aware of the  several meetings called by certain persons in Nigeria where activists, top journalists and chronic critics were recruited to engage in public smearing of Akpabio’s name by all means. The battle has been on, they started with the case of the Professor who was recently convicted for alleged electoral fraud during the last Senatorial Election in Akwa Ibom State. When the attempt to link the said fraud with Senator Godswill Akpabio failed like pack of cards as superior and more logical arguments were presented, they recoiled and came up with this one that sounds more stupid and idiotic. We never knew that they can descend into a pit like this, all in a bid to destroy a man for whatever reasons,  known to them.

The Nigerian Police, hopefully are on top of this Umoren’s unfortunate death. They should be allowed to carry out a full scale investigation as to who and those behind the gruesome rape and murder of that innocent girl. Using the unfortunate incident to run down Senator Godswill Akpabio and his family has failed woefully. The truth of the matter is that “No weapon fashion against Senator Godswill Akpabio whether now, tomorrow or in the future will stand”. The reason for this is,  “No man can curse a man whom God has marked out for blessings”.

Mr Hundeyin has committed both criminal and civil wrongs in this campaign of calumny against Senator Akpabio and that of his wife. If he thinks that by being in  far away America he can utilise the social space to malign someone and escape justice, he has committed a grievous  error.  The arms of the law will ultimately catch up with him if he fails, refuses and neglects to withdraw his  cock and bull story about the involvement of the Akpabios in the unfortunate incident of Ini’s death and apologize to them, he stands all the legal risks associated with such criminal and civil defamation. It is his choice!

Enough said.

Written by Mr. Smart Chizurum, a socio-political commentator and analyst writes from Akwa Ibom State

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