By Etieno James
The All Progressives Congress, APC, as well as citizens of Akwa Ibom State have continued to express shock over what some of them described as a total disconnect between Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration and the populace, saying it was the main cause of hardship and insecurity being faced in the state.
Our respondents who reacted to a press release by the Honourable Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Udoh, on the Etim Ekpo attack, said the contents therein explained the mindset of Udom administration towards the lives and well-being of Akwa Ibomites.
Indigenes of Etim Ekpo, one of the local government areas worst hit by the threatening insecurity, who spoke to our correspondent also blamed the state government for not doing enough to safeguard the lives and property of citizenry.
It would be recalled that the Information Commissioner had in a press release dated 5th March, 2018 (Monday), said that the state government had directed security agencies in the state to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that perpetrators of crimes were brought to book. Mr. Charles in his release which reads in part had said “Following a few isolated cases of criminal activities recorded in Etim Ekpo local government area in the last few days which resulted in the unfortunate death of an AKTC bus driver and a few other citizens, the akwa Ibom State government has directed security agencies to leave no stone unturned in the quest to bring the hoodlums responsible for such dastardly acts to book…”
In a swift reaction, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Akwa Ibom state Chapter said it was the worst statement a government official could release in response to losses of lives and property. While accusing the Information Commissioner of being insensitive to the feelings of loss of Etim Ekpo indigenes, the State Secretary of the party, Dr. Effiong Etok, who spoke in Uyo on Tuesday, called on the state governor to immediately sack him (Commissioner) for insulting a depressed people.
“I don’t understand what the so-called Commissioner for Information called ‘isolated cases of criminal activities’. This was a well coordinated attack on the citizens by men of the underworld that lasted for several hours during which innocent citizens lost their lives. What else could be more serious than that?”, Etok retorted.
While also lambasting the commissioner for, according to him, not knowing his job, the state APC Scribe continued “At least, I expected that for one to be a state commissioner for Information, he must have had a stint in journalism. I have also been made to understand that one of the rudiments of journalism is to verify facts before going to press. So, for a state commissioner for information to come out and shamefully tell Akwa Ibomites that the ‘isolated’ attack led to the death of ‘a bus driver and a few other persons’ is nothing but a shear expression of ineptitude and I think the most honourable path is for the governor to relieve him of his position for insulting a people who are already depressed”.
Speaking further he said “This is a sustained criminal activity that has led to a near sack of entire communities. As a party, we once visited the area to condole with some of the victims’ families. We gathered that Wards 7, 8, 9 and 10, bordering Ukanafun local government area have been under siege. We also learnt that over fifty innocent people have been killed. A lot of people, including royal fathers, politicians, businessmen and women have fled their homes. What about the killing of village heads, kidnappings and all of that? Yet, an Information commissioner says a few isolated cases”.
While also calling security agencies to double up their efforts, the APC State Secretary blamed the PDP-led government in the state for the insecurity, hinting that they had armed the boys for election purposes only to lose grip of them.
“The insecurity we hear today in Etim Ekpo, Ukanafun and other parts of the state is as a result of the arms and ammunition the PDP politicians had procured for these boys for elections. So today, they cannot control those boys again and they now constitute a menace to the society”, Dr. Etok said.
Other indigenes of Etim Ekpo who spoke to our correspondent in stict confidentiality, said they had abandoned their farms and other businesses which were their sources of livelihood for fear of death in the hands of the dare-devil attackers.