The Cross River state commissioner for sports and cinematography, Chief Offu Aya and Mr Emmanuel Elom the Chairman State Sports Commission on Monday threw decorum to the wind and engaged in a physical brawl, the SportsBay.com reports.
The duo got physical following the failure of the state’s sports top officials to sort out the modalities of how the 10 months’ salary arrears of the State owned Pelicans Stars FC and other athletes would be paid.
However, the athletes were locked out of the UJ Esuene Stadium which the venue was picked to resolve the lingering financial crisis allegedly on the orders of the Cross River sports commissioner.
Elom who had his dress torn and eye glasses broken told journalists that when he assumed office two months ago, he found the commission’s office at the state’s Sports Stadium occupied by Offu but after dialogue, he (Offu) agreed to vacate the office.
“We were scheduled to meet with athletes today to find out how they are doing following the lockdown and they had arrived but they were kept outside.
“A few months down the line after we went to be cleared by the State House of Assembly and came back, we are still wandering and I have been working from my car. So I got to meet with the Commissioner for Sports and Cinematography and reminded him of our earlier discussion as regards his moving to his permanent office.
“But when we met as a board, we came up with a unilateral decision that we have to occupy our offices so that we can hit the ground running. So we sent a letter to him asking him to go to his own permanent place within seven days so that we can occupy our office.
“A day after the letter was dispatched, I placed a call to him and he did not answer only for me to come to the office this morning and discovered that there were thugs in the office. I went to the VIP Lounge where my office is and I discovered that the thugs were sitting there, smoking hemp and drinking hot drinks.
He stated that when he turned his back to go to the office where Chief Aya was, someone pounced on him from the back with punches and others joined to beat him up.
“While the thugs were attacking me, I escaped down stairs that was when the commissioner came up with a kokobo (horse whip) to flog me. I am surprised at why a commissioner in government can do that “.
According to the Cross River sports Commission Chairman, he had to make a call to the State Security Adviser’s office and the Commissioner of Police with the only phone left on him “Because they were carrying charm and I am surprised that a Commissioner could behave like a tout, reducing the high office of a commissioner to that of a thug.”
He added: “The law that established the commission made it clear that the commission will be in charge of everything sports, from organization, implementation and all. The responsibility of the sports ministry is to formulate policy while the implementation rests with the commission. These issues are clear. This is an aberration; it should not be and will not be”.
Elom explained that the Ministry of Youths and Sports was divided into two with the Commissioner for Youths occupying the office at the state secretariat. However, the Commissioner for Sports and Cinematography decided to use the stadium where the commission has its office.
“But if you come and realize that there is a commission, does that not tell you that, as a responsible citizen you should start initiating the process of moving back to your office so that this altercation will not happen. He has acted irresponsibly and I am very embarrassed,” the Sports commission boss said.
When journalists approached Offu, he was too angry to speak as he dismissed them. Police PRO, DSP Irene Ugbo, said the matter had been reported to the Command.
But the Cross River Director of Sports and Secretary to the Sports Commission, Mr. Jude Amadi as well as the Director of Facilities and Stadium Manager, Mr. Etim Okon Coco-Bassey, confirmed the Chairman’s story with both of them saying they were “totally embarrassed and disappointed by the behaviour of the Commissioner.”
It was gathered that some athletes were at the stadium when the incident happened but the Commissioner ordered all of them, including the stadium manager and the Commission’s Secretary to leave immediately, while locking the stadium and leaving with the keys.