By John ighodaro
Former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke has refuted claims that he was arrested by the police in Cross River State.
Speaking to newsmen at his residence weekend in Calabar, the former governor said he was never arrested and that â€œthere was even no attempt to arrest him.â€
Mr. Duke was reported to have been arrested while trying to commission the Mother and Child Hospital occupying the grounds of the defunct NRC secretariat along Murtala Mohammed Way in Calabar.
According to Mr. Duke, he had actually gone for the commissioning of the hospital. And while there, a court injunction was brought demanding that the ceremony be stopped, but that the court injunction came from Akamkpa LGA and that its jurisdiction does not extend to Calabar Municipality where the hospital is located and so couldnâ€™t be enforced.
The commissioning held. The World Health Organization was represented and the American Embassy was also represented.
Meanwhile, the Cross River State government has dissociated itself from reports that it has been persecuting Mr. Donald Duke for opting out of the PDP.
According to a press statement by the government and signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Patrick Ugbe, â€œOur attention has been drawn to recent reports in the media on the arrest of the former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke over the issue of the Women and Childrenâ€™s Hospital in Calabar, and the insinuations there from that it was being orchestrated by the administration of the Governor, His Excellency Senator Liyel Imoke.
â€œThe issue of the ownership of the Women and Childrenâ€™s Hospital is a matter which was taken to court by a private citizen of the State, Mr. James Ebri, a gubernatorial candidate of the African Renaissance Party (ARP) in the last governorship election in the State.Â In his suit, the Cross River State Government, the Attorney-General of the State and the Commissioner for Lands are all joined in as co-defendants in the case.Â So we wonder His Excellencyâ€™s involvement in the matter.
â€œSince the matter is already before the court, the State Government will not make any comment, as this would be subjudice.Â We shall let the court decide on the matter.
â€œWe are also aware of comments in the media that the Governor Senator Imoke cancelled the conferment of an honourary doctorate degree by the Cross River State University of Technology, (CRUTECH) on his predecessor, Donald Duke during the last convocation of the institution due to their frosty relationship.
â€œIt is pertinent to point out that CRUTECH does not yet offer post-graduate programmes of any kind, so cannot yet award Honourary Doctorate degrees.Â It is unheard of anywhere in the world, that an academic institution without a post graduate programme, would award doctorate degrees.Â It is on the basis of this that the decision was collectively taken to shelve the awards for now. It is important to note that CRUTECH is only about to start a post-graduate programme this year.Â However, it is on record that the Governor Senator Liyel Imoke recommended Donald Duke for national honours.Â If he would do that, why would he be denying him a less important award?
â€œWe also seize this opportunity to state that the Government is in no way probing the previous administration.Â Even when there has been a huge clamour for a probe, the Governor has always maintained that such an exercise would only cause a distraction from the sense of purpose in service delivery.
â€œThe fact that Duke has left the PDP to pursue his Presidential ambition elsewhere will not in any way cause any friction between him and Imoke.Â Should he become President, it will be to the pride and glory of Cross River State.
â€œWe feel it necessary to clear the air on these issues, so that the media will be adequately guided in their reportage and representation of issues, so that the public will not be misinformed.â€