The Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, on Monday came down hard on his cabinet members, suspending 20 Commissioners and Special Advisers.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mike Ania said the officials were punished for failing to participate in the four-kilometre walk to mark the World Aids Day on Sunday.
The cabinet members were ordered to hand over to their Permanent Secretaries immediately and will remain suspended without pay.
Those affected include the Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Attah Ochinke; Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Etim Takis Kaifas; Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Edak Iwuchukwu; Commissioner for Women Affairs; Patricia Enderly; Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Sandy Onor, and Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. James Aniyom;
Others are Special Adviser on Project Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr. Eja Dons Eseghe; Commissioner for Water Resources, Elemi Etowa; Special Adviser on Tourism, Wilfred Usani, Special Adviser on Religious Affairs; Eyo Okpo Ene; Special Adviser on Special Duties; Mr. Fabian Okpa; Special Adviser Forestry and Biodiversity, Ntufam, Gabe Odu-Orji; Special Adviser on Investment, Dr. Gerald Adah;
Also affected are Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Matters, Mr. Fred Osim; Special Adviser Legal, Mr. Mark Obi; Special Adviser, NGO, Mrs. Margaret Johnson Ebokpo; Special Adviser on ICT, Mr. Odo Effiong; Special Adviser on Mineral Resources; Mr. Effiong Bassey; Special Adviser Strategy and Planning , Prof. Idem Temple; Special Adviser on Debt Management, Fransicea Nkoyo Effiong.
Imoke, his wife, Obioma , Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham and his wife Glory, members of the State House of Assembly and some Executive Council members had on Sunday embarked on the four- kilometer walk to mark the World Aids Day and to create awareness on HIV/AIDS.
Imoke, who distributed flyers on HIV/AIDS during the walk said it has become imperative to sensitise the people to understand the disease, adding that the high prevalence of the disease in the state makes it imperative that a lot more work has to be done in the area of creating awareness to fight stigmatisation.
He said, “AIDS disease is like malaria disease and those who are affected have to be treated or they will die. When you have malaria, you do not go to church or prayer house and same is with AIDS and if detected on time, do the test and if it is positive, take medicine and will be normal like any other human being”.
“Don’t see AIDS as strange and create fear because it can be managed and is not written on faces. It is more manageable than cancer today, but those who have cancers will come out and say they have cancer, but not people with HIV/AIDS.
“We need to do more and tell people how it can be contracted and how it can be treated and we should look forward to a time when there will be no AIDS walk and AIDS Day.
“For this to succeed, we should enact a law and ensure it is observed in the urban area where the prevalence is high. The cost of HIV on the economy is high and we should ensure it does not increase by creating awareness for the people to be responsive and responsible,” Imoke urged.