The commissioner for culture and tourism in Akwa Ibom, Orman Esin, has explained why he asked the police to arrest a popular comedian in the state.
The comedian, whose stage name is Sir James, was arrested on Wednesday by the police. He was accused of making “injurious” Facebook posts against Mr Esin.
Sir James, before his arrest, took to Facebook to launch a vigorous campaign against an alleged poor treatment of local entertainers by state officials.
He accused the commissioner, Mr Esin, and his ministry of refusing to pay or underpaying artistes who performed in a state-organised event during the Christmas holiday.
“Why would he (Sir James) publish my private phone number and house address on Facebook?” Mr Esin told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday. “I wanted him to tell the police what his motive was.”
Mr Esin said the comedian should have done his campaign without “crossing the red line”.
On the argument that since Mr Esin is a public servant there was nothing private about having his phone number and house address on the social media site, the commissioner said “How about the safety of my family? Do you consider the fact that he put the life of my family at risk?”
The commissioner said he would have had the comedian arraigned in court but for the intervention of some people.
He said some entertainers were not paid by his ministry during the holiday event because “they were brought in to perform without our knowledge and approval.”
Sir James was released after spending a night in detention. A few hours after, he posted on Facebook that his travail was for the sake of the Akwa Ibom entertainment industry.
“It’s all about our entertainment industry. Like I keep saying, I don’t hate the Commissioner, I only hate actions from some (dubious) folks working under him.
“On this same platform have confessed & appreciated his (Commissioner) efforts,” he said.
“His anger & why he petitioned me was releasing his private phone number & home address to the public & I also told him why I went that far realising I was also threatened by some artistes I invited to perform at the carnival & still owed.
“Realising his anger was having his phone number & home address released on social media, thereby opening him up for unwanted threats, I apologised to him.
“My apology to him was borne out of good intention. It’s wasn’t a big deal. To me it was an avenue for me & Commissioner to realign,” he said.