A former presidential adviser, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, has accused the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, of sending his aides to forcefully remove a Toyota Prado jeep in her Calabar residence while she was out of the country.
The removal was the aftermath of an alleged diversion of relief materials sent by the National Commission for Refugees to the displaced persons of Atai-Ema in Bakassi, whose makeshift houses were burnt in April 2017.
Ita-Giwa had, on June 3, led a team of security operatives to recover some relief materials in a private residence in Calabar.
Since then, there had been claims and counter-claims by various groups over the authenticity of the alleged diversion.
However, Ita-Giwa, who spoke in Calabar shortly after thousands of her kinsmen had protested in Akpabuyo over attempts to tarnish her image, said it was wrong for some aides to storm her compound in her absence.
Ita-Giwa said the seized vehicle was given to her by Ayade, but Saturday PUNCH learnt that the vehicle might have been given to her as the Chairman of the Cross River Seaport Authority.
She said, “They stormed these premises in my absence to remove the car the governor gave to me.
“They removed the Prado Jeep. Even if they had wanted the car, they should have written to me or waited for me to come back.
“But they stormed the premises in my absence and collected the car. What has car got to do with the missing relief materials?”
Letters made available indicated that the Director of Administration, Governor’s Office, David Edem, had, on June 9, requested for the return of the vehicle.
The letter read in part, “With compliments and best wishes from the office of the governor, I most respectfully request you to please return the black Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Jeep officially allocated to you by this office on September 6, 2016.
“The vehicle with chassis number JTEBX9F…71, is required to boost our depleted fleet and deepen our service delivery. Any inconvenience caused by this request is regretted, while thanking you for your understanding.”
Similarly on June 15, the Transport Officer in the Governor’s Office, Bisong Egbe, in a handwritten acknowledgement, noted, “I acknowledge receipt of vehicle, a Prado Jeep returned by Senator Ita-Giwa. The vehicle is in good and working condition.”
When contacted on Friday, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Christian Ita, simply said, “We won’t join issues with her.”
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of Bakassi IDPs, Prince Aston Inyang; and the Akpabuyo camp leader of Bakassi returnees, Chief Etim Ene, berated those trying to allegedly tarnish the image of Ita-Giwa.
Specifically, Ene said, “They want to tarnish the image of our national leader, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, who is a mother of all.
“Since 2008 when we were first displaced from our homes, she has been the one that has been taking care of the people.”