BY: Goddie Akpama
Some days ago, news rent in the air that three civil servants were guests to the Cross River State police command for allegedly leaking sensitive documents to the media, especially crossriverwatch, the online newspaper published by Agba Jalingo.
I have decided to be silent on the names of the arrested civil servants because, for now, they remain suspects with the police still investigating the matter.
However, I have decided not to shy away from commenting on the very act of letting out official secret or information through unauthorised sources; and in this case from civil servants who at all times are part of government.
From the look of things, the rate and speed with which classified documents are released to the press in recent days in the state indicate that it is done out of dubious political motivate to tarnish the image of Governor Ben Ayade and the state government.
But, unfortunately, the civil servants who have either sold themselves out to politicians, and have donated themselves as instruments for use by Governor Ben Ayade’s political opponents should know that they have not only violated the official secret act which they swore to uphold, they have betrayed the trust officially reposed in them.
At times, I wonder why a public servant, who is indeed government, no matter the official position he occupies, should feel that he is less government than the governor and political appointees who has very limited tenure as public servants.
According to the Nigerian parlance, ” Soja come, Soja go, barracks remain.”
So, the civil servants should know that that barracks they work in for 35 years up until they are 60 official years should be protected and preserved for the future generation and the overall interest of the state.
Divulging official information by any civil servant, through unauthorised sources, for the attainment of dubious political goals amounts to pulling down ones own house.
Is it proper for a farmer to set his farm ablaze because he is hunting for games? Why should a civil servant deliberately set out on a mission to pull down the civil service of his state because he has been influenced to do so for temporary pecuniary satisfaction from some disgruntled politicians who are also using the media as cover.
The good thing about this whole deliberate act of sabotage by some disgruntled civil servants who should have known their limits is under investigation by the police.
I also suggest that the office of the head of service in the state should immediately put mechanism in place to investigate the sources of the rampant leakage of official information, and if any civil servant is found, such a person should be punished adequately according to the prescription of the civil service rules and regulations in the country.
The police on their part should explore the necessary laws and prosecute any civil servant that is found culpable of leaking official secret to the public through the media.
The police should make such civil servant understand that having acted as spies against the governor and the state government, they have floated the law, and must appear before the court for possible punishment.
Yes, the journalist will always seek information, no matter how secretive such information is. It is their duty to seek information, but through due process, and they are protected by the law to do so, but not as spies for the purpose of blackmail or as politicians for the purpose of destroying their real or imaginary political opponents.
But, the journalist is very unlikely to get any unclassified information in the civil service except it is leaked to them by the civil servants, this is criminal and such act by ANY civil servant, this civil servant or servants must be made to face the Law.