Media Watch Series: Let the Law Take its Course

Journalists’ Hangout on TVC News

Lawlessness isn’t peculiar to Nigeria. What seems peculiar to this country is the rate at which custodians of the law and people who should serve as role models reportedly get involved in acts of impunity and lawlessness.

Lincornellah’s blog has identified one of such reports on page 43 of today’s edition of THE NATION newspaper (Monday, July 17, 2017). The report states that the Commissioner for Petroleum Resources in Cross River State has attributed the fire incident in a tank farm at the Calabar Free Trade Zone Enterprise (EPZ) to the activities of criminal elements who were colluding with security officials to siphon petrol from the tank farms sited there. The Commissioner did not disclose the specific security agencies that those officials work for.

However, he added that an investigation would be launched into the matter and culprits brought to book. At least 13 persons reportedly died as a result of that incident while several others sustained injuries and were taken to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).

While that investigation is going on, we hope that victims of that incident would receive prompt medical attention from relevant authorities. The incident coincides with reports of lack of attention to victims of a fire incident that happened in a football viewing center located at  Nyagasang area of Atimbo in Calabar Municipality. It happened in April 2017 during a Europa League match between Manchester United of England and Anderlecht of Belgium.

HIT FM Calabar’s news broadcast aired at 7.00am this morning indicated that one Ferdinand Anok has died, after being reportedly rejected by a South African hospital. Ferdinand was a victim of that fire incident. Some survivors of that incident alleged in that broadcast that they have been paying bills from their pockets, despite an earlier promise that the Cross River State government would pay their bills. We sympathize with those victims and call on the state government and authorities of UCTH to attend to them on humanitarian grounds.

A similar report broadcast on TVC News at 6.00pm today stated that yesterday’s incident at Calabar EPZ was a case of ”economic sabotage”. It stated that the government of Cross River State is unhappy with the way the tank farms are operating at the EPZ.

Although that report did not expatiate on this, the state government’s ”unhappiness” may not be unconnected with the fact that the EPZ was originally meant to primarily serve as a zone for export of goods, rather than for any other purpose. Apparently, that original plan is being sabotaged by forces beyond the control of the Cross River State government.

Meanwhile, Sahara Reporters have stated in a report published today that the tank farm involved in that fire incident is Linc Oil and Gas, owned by Senator Andy Uba. According to Sahara Reporters, Senator Uba is ”a controversial politician involved in  massive corruption during his time as the Senior Domestic aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the tank farms at the EPZ Calabar are mainly owned by non indigenes of Cross River State.

Another report that associates role models with law breaking emerged from Lagos State yesterday, where Yusuf Ogundare, the Baale (traditional ruler) of Shangisha in Magodo, was deposed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, for allegedly faking his abduction. The Baale reportedly confessed to security services that he staged his own kidnap in order to blackmail the Lagos State government and implicate the Oba of Magodo. He was reportedly apprehended by some men of Rapid Response Squad in Alausa area of Lagos, after he was dropped in a suspicious manner in a car that sped off immediately.

That incident served as a topic of discussion on Journalists’ Hangout, a programme of TVC News Nigeria, aired from 5-6pm today. The programme was anchored by Ayodele Ozugbakan, an ace broadcaster. Veteran journalists on the programme unanimously applauded Governor Ambode for deposing that traditional ruler. They wondered why a traditional ruler who should be a custodian of traditional values would turn around to desecrate such values.

We join those journalists in calling for the speedy prosecution of the deposed Baale and other alleged law breakers. Nobody should be above the law. Rather, our laws should create a safe Nigeria for us by afflicting all law-breakers and comforting all law-keepers.

  • Cornelius Ellah

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