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Cross River government seals up Table Tennis Hall, denies clamp down on non Ayade supporters

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Cross River state government has denied any systematic clamp down on government appointees and associates that have declined to follow him to the All Progressive Congress (APC) just as it sealed up the Canaan Table Tennis Club hall.

The state government had on May 25, without any prior notice sealed up indefinitely the Canaan Table Tennis club hall that the state’s table tennis team and some members of the public use to train as the state government has instructed the Director of Sports to close and shut down the place and this many people said it may not be unconnected with the refusal of the former Chairman of the State’s Sports Commission, Chief Orok Otu Duke to move to APC with Governor Ben Ayade.

A notice signed by the Director of Sports, Mr. Etim Coco-Bassey Omara for the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Emmauel Elom had o May 25 and pasted on the wall of the hall in the stadium, reads: “I have the directive to inform the public and athletes that the table tennis hall has been closed till further notice”.

The players are now stranded as they have no place to train for a competition coming up  in Turkey in a weeks time and the Olympic games in Tokyo. Top sources in the commission said the directives came from the governor and it is political to checkmate any PDP sympathizer close to government ye not supporting the governor’s move to APC.

Commenting on the matter, the Chairman of South South Table Tennis, Otuekong Orok Duke described the lock down of the hall as very unfortunate as “they athletes need to train there so that those equipment do not go bad. Now look at what has happened, they locked the place without telling us. I don’t know they have locked the place and I just hope it is not political…Why are they locking it. Is it for a security breach?  It’s only the chairman of the commission and Governor Ayade that can explain better. The chairman said the governor asked that the place should be locked but all those things belong to us”.

On why he was not supporting Ayade, Duke who is also the Incorporated Chairman of Canaan Table Tennis Club stated, “We are supporting him but it is just that I am not crossing over to APC. As an elder states person you cannot stop supporting the government because you want progress in the state”.

A table tennis enthusiast, Francis Etang said “the complex (the table tennis hall) in the Memo of article and Memorandum of Association shows that the state government has an equity share holding of 40 percent while individuals have 60 percent” and can not shut down the place arbitrarily without informing the co shareholders. 

But the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Elom reacting said, “to set the records straight, the Table Tennis hall in the premises of the U.J Esuene Stadium is owned 100% by the Cross River State Commission. Together with the Cafe and Gymnasium, it was built with proceeds from the lease agreement with MTN to build the telecom mast within the stadium premises.

“Secondly, the Commission had, shortly before the last National Sports Festival which was held in April in Benin reviewed the leadership membership of governing boards of the various sports associations in the State. To this end, Ntufam Edim Inok was appointed as the Chairman of the Cross River State Table Tennis Association. One of the first tasks before the new board is the refurbishment of the Table Tennis Hall and the Gymnasium, both of which are due. The work is planned to commence this week and that necessitated the temporary closure of the two facilities to players for the period of renovation”. 

He said it was wrong to attribute the shutdown of the hall to “the refusal of Hon. Chief Orok Duke, the immediate past Chairman of the Commission, to defect with the Governor from the PDP to the APC as the reason for the temporary closure of the Hall. Nothing can be far from the truth. It clearly shows that the mentality of the writer, and possibly his sponsor, is to reduce everything, including serious government business, to politics. To the best of our knowledge Governor Ayade has not compelled any appointee of his to follow him to the APC let alone Chief Orok Duke who, presently, is not an appointee of government. This is a clear case of playing to the gallery”.

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