An Abuja-based member of the All Progressives Party (APC), Mr Paul Ifere, was reportedly picked up in Abuja last Thursday by policemen and driven to Calabar on the order of the state’s governor, Ben Ayade, over unfavourable comments made against the administration on Facebook and WhatsApp.
Ifere was kept in custody in the State Police Headquarters, and arraigned before a Magistrate Court 1 in Calabar.
The prosecution counsel, Barrister Ofem Mbang, brought a four-count charge against Ifere by the Commissioner of Police, bordering on misdemeanor where read in court to the accused, who pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The first charge sheet with numbers MC.1140C/2017 was about a Whatsapp message to one Goddy Akpama on August 17, 2017, which was said to be with intent to intimidate and threaten him and his reputation and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 366 (a) of the criminal Code, Cap C16, Vol.3, Laws of Cross River State of Nigeria.”
The second count of the same charge also bordering on the same message to Goddy Akpama was for an offence of misdemeanor punishable under Section 375 of the criminal Code, Cap C16, Vol.3, Laws of Cross River State of Nigeria.
The second with two count charges as well with number MC 1141C/2017 bordered on his Facebook post which he made and published on the 8th and 9th of July 2016.
It read, “Breaking news: More Robberies and Kidnappings coming your way. That is the price you pay where a Governor shuttles the world signing MoUs, meanwhile there was no homeland security or police to fight the robbers”.
“…Ifere Paul, knowing this to be false, with intent to raise false alarm and cause fear among citizens, residents, inhabitants, visitors and members of the general public in Cross River State and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 59 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap C16, Vol.111, laws of Cross River State of Nigeria 2004.”
Granting the bail, Chief Magistrate E.E. Edogi, asked the defense counsel, Utum Eteng, who led five other lawyers, to present a surety for the bail and the state Chairman of the All Progressive Congress APC, Chief John Ochalla was presented and he agreed to surety the bail conditions given.
The bail conditions as given included a deposit of one million naira and a surety by a known chief executive of a company or an organization, who should be resident in Calabar and has a landed property.