“Policemen just arrived this place and started arresting us, claiming that the arrest was an order from above. Most of us were even eating and we were ordered to abandon our food and drinks. I just closed from work and because my wife travelled, I came here to have a meal before going home and now I have been arrested and thrown into a truck. They say I cannot carry my car, like several other persons also arrested”, an arrested source texted www.calitown.com. – 8:48 pm, March 6, 2017
One year and four months after www.calitown.com received the text message above, we can reliably inform that the once thriving bars and eateries located inside the premises of the Old Residency Museum, Calabar, Cross River State, shut down under hazy circumstances, have begun to alarmingly decay.
Pictorial evidence obtained by our reporter show that section of the museum grounds, gradually being overtaken by weeds. Several refrigerators, chairs, tables, empty bottles, plates and cooking utensils can be seen hurriedly heaped and abandoned. Some of the huts have leaking roofs, just like most doors are decaying. We were informed in the course of this story that “those things are the way they are scattered because the vendors were hurriedly thrown out in a commando-like operation overseen by a contingent of not too friendly policemen. We also gathered that the only securely locked place in this section, at press time, is the single room that use to house the Calabar Scrabble Club.
“You can see for yourself that the livelihood means of a sizeable number of Cross Riverians who owned and ran businesses at the museum, have been taken away. This section of the museum use to be the relaxation place of choice for many working class people residing in Calabar and several others who visit the place because of the secure and exclusive nature of the place. All of that is in the past now … we can only hope that those who shut down this place and the businesses will see that the decision to shut it down was not in the general interest”, one former food vendor at the place told www.calitown.com.
At the Old Residency Museum, we further confirmed that the closure of those businesses has adversely affected visitor traffic to the museum. The situation is made worse by the stationing of stern looking policemen at the entrance to the place, clearly instructed to reduce access to the place.
Government sources contacted in Calabar say the closure of the bars and eateries were at the instance of Ben Ayade, the state governor. We were pointed to the fact that the neighbourhood should ideally be a highly restricted area because the governor, his deputy and the state Chief Judge, have residences around the museum grounds. But some people on the ground say the place has never threatened her high brow neighbours. “Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke were governors who did not shut down this place, they were humane enough to let it thrive with the attendant benefits. This governor has come, shut it down and made several of us jobless and prone to hunger; we will pray that God blesses him. But I can assure you with faith that when he leaves as governor, the place will be reopened and we can live again, I believe this because I know my redeemer liveth”, another vendor submitted.
Attempts to get official government response was not possible at press time.
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