THISDAY ONLINE EDITOR ALLEGES THREAT TO LIFE

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line Editor of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Joseph Ushigiale, yesterday accused the Cross River State government of orchestrating a campaign of calumny  against him and inciting its agents  to threaten  his life and that of his family.

The action, he alleged, had led to the death of his mother, Mrs. Juliana Ushigiale, who died from shock  yesterday.

In a petition to the Inspector General of Police, yesterday, Ushigiale accused the Cross River State government of being too reactionary in its rejoinder to a story written by him and perceived by the state as containing misleading information to the Nigerian people on account of the retrieval of 75 oil wells from Cross River and their restoration to Akwa Ibom State.

He informed the IG of receiving an anonymous call at 3.04 pm on June 10, 2009.

“I received an anonymous call from a private number and the individual who did not identify himself accused me of shortchanging Cross River State by supporting the return of oil wells to Akwa Ibom State. He warned that 'we are coming from Calabar to Lagos to come and kidnap you. Are you not in Lagos? We know where you are and will get you'”, he said.

According to him “within the last 48 hours, the Cross River State Commissioner for  Information, Hon. Edet Okon Asim, had consistently declared me a persona non grata claiming that I am from Benue State; he has also waged a campaign of calumny, blackmail, spread of falsehood and intimidation on the state-run radio and television stations inciting the people of the state against me and my family for the simple fact that I published a story last Monday, June 8, 2009 titled: 'Why Fed. Govt Restored Oil Wells to Akwa Ibom.'”

“Please for confirmation sake, you may wish to call the AIG Zone 6 and the Commissioner of Police in Cross River State to confirm the 30-minute interval radio and television broadcasts orchestrated against me and my family by the State Government”, he said.

On the threat to his life and that of his family, he stated that “I fear for my life and that of my family. Sadly, this afternoon, my mother who has been bed-ridden died after hearing that the State Government has declared me a Benue State indigene instead of Cross River State where I was born and grew up.' She is still at the Obudu Clinic in Cross River State as I write to you.

“While I grief for my mother, I request that you use your good office to offer me protection in Lagos and also that of my family residing in Calabar”, he said.

On the allegation of inciting the Nigerian public on the restoration of oil wells to Akwa Ibom State, Ushigiale dismissed the propaganda stressing that “the allegations which the state government is peddling, I consider them unfounded and merely shadow chasing. The story in question is nothing more than the execution of my reportorial duties to which I owe the state government no apologies”.

He called the IG's attention to the worsening security situation heightened by the Cross River State government's defamatory statements that have ruled the state airwaves in the last 48 hours and declared that “I want to also put it on record that, already my mother died this afternoon on account of this propaganda, note that should anything happen to me or any member of my family, the Cross River State government is responsible”.