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Ayade sacks commissioners, SAs over refusal to defect

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Cross River State Governor, Benedict Ayade, has sacked four commissioners and five special advisers in a move aimed at checkmating his appointees and associates, who refused to join him in the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The clamp down started last week as the state government on May 25, 2021 sealed up the Canaan Table Tennis Club hall that the state’s table tennis team and some members of the public use for training.

The Guardian learnt that the action followed the governor’s orders to the Director of Sports to close the place, which observers said might not be unconnected with the former Chairman of the State’s Sports Commission, Orok Otu Duke’s refusal to join Ayade in APC.

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The notice to close the hall was signed by the Director of Sports, Etim Coco-Bassey Omara for Chairman of the Commission, Emmanuel Elom and pasted on the hall on May 25, 2021, reads: “I have been directed to inform the public and athletes that the table tennis hall has been closed till further notice.”

But reacting to the development, Elom refuted claims that the state government was victimising Ayade’s aides with a view to forcing them to join him (Ayade) in the APC.

“Shortly before the National Sports Festival held in April in Benin City, Edo State, the commission reviewed membership of the governing boards of the sports associations in the state. This culminated in the appointment of Ntufam Edim Inok as Chairman of the Cross River State Table Tennis Association.

“The first task before the new board was to refurbish the Table Tennis Hall and the Gymnasium, both of which have been due for rehabilitation. The work will commence this week and that necessitated the temporary closure of the facilities during the renovation,” he said.

But after Governor Ayade met his aides and stakeholders to get their commitment between May 25 and May 28, 2021, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita in a statement yesterday, said: “Ayade approved the sack of Mike Usibe, Rita Ayim, Asu Okang and Ntufam Donatus Etim.”

“Also, Leo Inyambe, Hon. Orok Otu Duke, Victor Okon, John Etim Bassey, Hon. Agbiji Mbeh Agbiji were relieved of their appointments and have been directed to return all government property in their possession to the governor’s Chief of Staff (COS).”

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