The All Progressives Congress (APC), Akwa Ibom State Chapter, is saddened and worried by the unending orgy of violence, kidnappings and killings that have continued unabated in Etim Ekpo, Ukanafun and Ika Local Government Areas of the state in the last two years. Reports have it that over 100 people have been killed by rival cult groups allegedly used by the PDP in the last general elections to perpetrate electoral fraud and who now feel abandoned by the politicians. Thousands have been displaced as refugees and are in habitation at internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp.

Wednesday February 28th2018, a commercial bus driver with Akwa Ibom Transport Corporation (AKTC), Mr Nsikak Udokang was burnt to ashes along with his bus by suspected cultists along Etim Ekpo-Iwukem-Abak road. The passengers were robbed and the females abducted.  Reporting from Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, Ofonime Honesty, a journalist and social affairs commentator wrote; “Raging fire of insecurity has engulfed places like Etim Ekpo, Ukanafun and Ika Local Government Areas of the state while we pretend that all is well”.

It is disheartening, unconscionable and a betrayal of the people that the Government of Akwa Ibom state could only dismiss the protracted violence, kidnappings and killings in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of the state as “a few cases of criminal activities recorded in Etim Ekpo Local Government in the last few days . . .”.  This unfortunate and intemperate statement is contained in a Press Release authored by Mr. Charles Udo, Commissioner for Information and Strategy and published last Monday, 5th March 2018.

We are not the least surprised by such callous and careless statement by the Government of Udom Emmanuel. It goes to the root of Deacon Emmanuel’s Governorship and the disposition of his government to the people. Udom, a man not of the people was thrown-up at a great cost of the blood of over 30 Akwa Ibomites on election day and foisted on the state by his predecessor to do his bidding. He seems indifferent to violence and has remained distant from the people stewed in identity and credibility crisis three years after assumption of office. Deacon Emmanuel does not feel the pulse, nay the pain and anguish of the people of Etim Ekpo LGA even as they groan from the burden of insecurity, economic displacement and a bleak future.

Commenting on the Etim Ekpo mayhem, Hon. (Engr.) Akinimo Edet, a two-time Chairman of the Local Government, former member of AKHA and now member National Identity Management Board wrote; “for 2 years now, we from Etim Ekpo LGA especially wards 7,8, 9 &10 on the borders of Ukanafun LGA had been sleeping with one eye closed as more than 50 prominent persons have been killed. This is in addition to numerous cases of rape and kidnappings. He went further to say the Commissioner’s mention of “a few cases of criminal activities” means government was/is unaware of the security situation in Etim Ekpo in the last 2 years.

Similarly, in a press statement issue by Hon. Emmanuel Ekon, member representing Abak, Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency in the National Assembly said “he was saddened by the recent killings in Etim Ekpo. He said it was unfortunate that Etim Ekpo has been turned into a theatre of war by some hoodlums for whatever reasons. Hon. Ekon wrote “this is no longer funny, we should not fold our arms and allow the killings, robberies, rapes and kidnappings to be swept under the carpet”.

These accounts attest to the real situation in Etim Ekpo and contradicts in its entirety the statement issued by Mr. Charles Udo. Udom has demonstrated crass insensitivity to the plight of the people of Etim Ekpo. Government response has been lukewarm and its attitude towards solving the problem has been lackadaisical. In an obvious attempt to pass-off Akwa Ibom as a peaceful state and “Investors heaven” government has bluntly failed to let the world know the true security situation in Etim Ekpo. Udom has tactfully refrained from bringing the matter up for public discourse. Except reports on the social media and a few local tabloids, there is hardly any mention of insecurity in Etim Ekpo by state owned media organizations.

It is pertinent to remind Governor Emmanuel that insecurity that has plagued the 3 local government areas of Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District poses a serious threat to peace and security in the entire state and should not be treated in isolation or with kid gloves. The newly posted State Commissioner of Police (COP Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi) while assessing the security situation in the state identified cultism and cultists as a principal source of recruitment of youths engaged in violent crimes. Incidentally, cult related crimes including murder, politically motivated killings and kidnappings are rife in the Senatorial District as variously reported. It is embarrassing for this government and or its agent to be mentioned or associated with cult related crimes as in Ukanafun LGA where government interest in one of such cases was widely speculated. Such interference and government tacit acknowledgement of “family groups” as an arm of its activities fuels speculations and supports the notion that Udom has refused to exert the full strength of his authority to go after cultists terrorizing the people in the affected LGAs.

There’s the temptation to want to put the responsibility on the doorstep of the Federal government. We should not forget that Governor Emmanuel is the chief Security officer of the state. How well has he addressed the issue of security in these LGs? What is the level of the state’s collaboration with Federal Agencies in that respect? Security of lives and property and the welfare of the citizenry is the priority of every government. Unfortunately, Udom Emmanuel has shifted that priority to what his admirers call signature projects. That is, non-priority projects that has no relevance to the security and welfare of the ordinary folks but merely aimed at hyping his political profile as a performing governor with the intent to secure re-election.  Only Udom’s cohorts and the less informed are taken-in by such shenanigan. Discerning Akwa Ibomites know better than that. They are aware that Udom has not shown sufficient interest nor exercised his authority to address the Etim Ekpo mayhem against the backdrop of the huge monthly security vote at his disposal.

The apathy of Udom’s government towards resolution of the security challenges in Etim Ekpo is not in doubt. We call on the Federal Government to intervene in the affected LGAs so that the problems will be adequately addressed.

Edet Eyo Bassey (Esq.)

State Publicity Secretary

Dated: 8th March 2018