Akwa Ibom: Tension, as politicians go for broke

Politics

When the former Senate minority leader, Mr. Godswill Obot Akpabio gave a glimpse of what shape the 2019 general elections may take in Akwa Ibom State, and equated it with the 1940 invasion of Poland by German’s Adolf Hitler, not everyone took him serious.

Indeed, true to Akpabio’s prediction of doom, Akwa Ibom is witnessing increasing levels of violence and indecorous behaviours that are capable of triggering more violence and the breakdown of law and order. Interestingly, of late, there have been claims and counter-claims between the PDP and the APC regarding the source of the violence.

In November 2018, the state was the cynosure of all eyes as five lawmakers, who are members of the opposition APC embarked on a failed attempt to impeach both the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, and the state governor, Mr. Onofiok Luke, and Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel. The police brought the saga under control after a bloody situation and thereafter, took over the Assembly Complex until peace returned.

As that ugly episode was dying down, another unfortunate incident, this time the brazen breach of protocol happened at the Victor Atta International Airport, last December. At the centre of the confusion this time was Akpabio’s wife, Mrs. Unoma Akpabio. The ugly incident happened when Mrs. Akpabio, despite being a former First Lady of the state attempted to embarrass Governor Emmanuel’s wife, Mrs. Martha Emmanuel by putting herself forward as the one to receive the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs Aisha Buhari into the state.

The only thing that saved the situation from degenerating into a free-for-all was the swift intervention of security agents and protocol officers. Also, during a service to mark the presentation of the immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Sir Etekamba Umoren as Lay President of the Methodist Church, Ukana, matters almost got out of hand but for the matured conduct of members. Ukana in Essien Udim is the hometown of Senator Akpabio.

During the service, Mrs. Akpabio had used the church to solicit for votes as she asked congregants to vote for all candidates of the APC, specifically President Muhammadu Buhari, and the party’s governorship candidate in the state, Obong Nsima Ekere in the forthcoming polls.

Pronto, the Archbishop of Ikot Ekpene, His Grace Most Rev. Sunday Uko, who presided over the service scolded Akpabio’s wife for using the church service to do political campaign, and made attempts to cease the microphone from her. Irked by the action of the Archbishop, Senator Akpabio who grabbed the microphone after his wife had apologised to the clergy for her action, scolded the Archbishop for embarrassing his wife as he said it was wrong for the Archbishop to stop the wife from talking politics in church.

Akpabio went ahead to allege that the reason why the clergy embarrassed his wife was because he is supporting Governor Emmanuel.Only days ago in Edemaya, Ikot Abasi Local Council, youths numbering over 70, who identified themselves as members of the APC attempted to kidnap a popular youth leader, Mr. Emmanuel Sunday Ekpuk, aka Young King, in Edemaya, hometown of the APC’s Ekere.

The attempted abduction penultimate Friday, has now thrown the once peaceful community into panic mode just as tongues are still wagging over why the incident that almost cost Ekpuk his dear life should happen in the first place.An eye witness, Ekpo Ette said: “I suspect the incidence was politically motivated as the victim was taken to some locations where he was thoroughly brutalised before he was allegedly dropped off at Ekere’s family compound in Ikot Oboroenyin, in Edemaya, where he was reportedly interrogated by Chief G. S. Ekere, the patriarch of the family.

Ekpuk, who was taken to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital for treatment after he was rescued by men of the Nigeria Police from the council’s Headquarters, narrated his ordeal in the hands of his assailants. The badly bruised Ekpuk was later relocated to the Police Hospital at the State Police Headquarters in Ikot Akpan Abia, in Uyo for further medical attention and interrogation.

He recounted that the attackers stormed his residence in Ikot Okpok, one of the 23 villages that make up Edemaya Clan, at about 8am on Friday in a convoy of four cars and over 30 motorcycles and started shooting sporadically into the air to scare away the villagers, before capturing him, and keeping him in the booth of one of the cars.

However, at the Anti-Kidnapping Squad Unit, the victim was told he had some questions to answer as some persons had lodged complaints against him. It took the intervention of the lawmaker representing Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo Constituency at the State House of Assembl, Uduak Odudoh to get Ekpuk out of police net.  Odudoh argued that given the health status of the victim at that point, especially the amount of blood that he had lost, hurling him into detention would as well amount to sending him to an early grave.

Ekpuk, who was accused of shredding APC fez caps and tee-shirts admitted to tampering with two of such materials “out of anger” after APC youths tore his giant-size flex banner, where he promoted his favourite PDP candidates.

Meanwhile, solicitors from Project Chambers and Co have petitioned the state Commissioner of Police alleging attempted murder.Reacting to the allegations, a member of the Strategic Communications Committee of APC Campaign Council, Mr. Etim Etim dismissed all the allegations, saying, “it is just a case of rumour mongering, falsehood and hysteria being perpetuated by the PDP. Even at the national level, you can imagine the number of accusations that they have made in recent times.

On Ekpuk, Etim stated that, “there is nothing like that. Nobody took him to Ekere’s family home or anywhere. All those things are false. Of course there might have been violence one way or the other, but it is not connected with us and it has nothing to do with Obong Nsima Ekere, or his father at all. He was not even in Akwa Ibom that weekend. ”

He is still the MD of NDDC and he spends most of his time in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. There is no violence perpetrated by APC in the state. In fact we were victims of violence in 2015, but this time, we are more interested in capturing power.”
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