Borno and Benue states have dominated the headlines as the most terrorized states in Nigeria, but the truth is that their tribe is much larger. Akwa Ibom is one of them.
Akwa Ibom has been under the jackboots of terror for 11 years now. The body count shows no sign of abating. A bar chart of violence in the state that was once the oasis of peace in the Niger Delta would show how a peaceful, simple society tipped over into a vortex of violence soon after the election of 2007 that brought Godswill Obot Akpabio into power as governor of the state. During the eight years of PDP rule under Akpabio, prominent citizens in the state were routinely taken out in a well-practised orgy of annihilation of opposition figures in generalized terror that was designed to induce spiral of silence to guarantee everlasting reign for the emperor.
When the emperor found out, surprisingly belatedly, that the Constitution had denied him a life reign from day one of his infernal ascendancy, he began to plot the installation of a lackey who would be governor only in name, while he, the Devil Incarnate, retains the reins of power. They say in war, as in love, all is fair. The emperor, now Senator Godswill Akpabio, was in love with and fighting political war for Udom Emmanuel, albeit ultimately for the imperial designs of the man who has enriched Nigerian political jargon with the absurd but tragic coinage, “What money cannot do, more money will do.”
So, for Udom Emmanuel, the state pillaged, maimed and killed so that the lackey of the emperor could be governor. The period was 2013 to 2015, when the second wave of terror in Akwa Ibom reached its boiling point. Thus, Udom Emmanuel’s reign was conceived and birthed in violence. On the election day alone in March 2015, over 30 Akwa Ibom people were hacked to death by the marauding thugs hired by the PDP to scare away voters and hijack voting materials. Up till now, Governor Emmanuel has not uttered a word of condolence to the bereaved families. By association, Udom Emmanuel has a burden to discharge over the blood of our slain compatriots.
BANALITY OF EVIL
The violence continues till this day. Hannah Arendt had theorized on the banality of evil—the normalization of terror—which links up with the emperor’s deployment of violence to stir up spiral of silence in which everyone would resign to the reign of evil as a means to political ends. But we also know that evil mutates. Political killings that brought Udom Emmanuel to power have mutated into bare-fanged terror and engulfed the two Local Governments of Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo under Udom Emmanuel’s watch. There is widespread fear in the state that the orgy of violence deployed by Akpabio between 2008 and 2011 to scare away the opposition and guarantee his second term election victory would soon be re-enacted for the 2019 elections. After all, Udom Emmanuel had told the state that he would continue in the footsteps of his predecessor. Mr Emmanuel was touted during the campaigns as ‘Mr Continuity.’
Terror manifesting in killings, kidnapping, extortion, mass murders is so routine and random in the two local councils that no one is safe from it. No one is too poor to be kidnapped or harmed. The rich have become an endangered species. So far, over 200 people have been killed, and many more sacked from their homes. Last year, a former senior manager at ExxonMobil, an indigene of the state, had used his retirement benefits from the IOC to build a polytechnic in his community in Ukanafun LGA. The terrorists immediately saw him as a mint. They kidnapped him and asked for a ransom of N20 million. The poor fellow who had just invested his life savings in the polytechnic project was able to give them N10 million. They were so incensed at the insult of a “paltry” ransom that they cut off his right hand from the wrist and let him off as a warning to future hostages. Late last year, a vice principal in a secondary school in Ukanafun was snatched during the school assembly and killed thereafter. On Friday, 1 March 2018, a passenger bus belonging to the Akwa Ibom State Transport Company (AKTS), on a routine trip from Aba in Abia State was ambushed at Etim Ekpo by the gang of terrorists who burnt the bus driver alive, killed some of the passengers in the vehicle and abducted young female passengers, as the spoils of war. Just about the same period, a foremost private university in Akwa Ibom, Obong University, located in Etim Ekpo LGA, was forced to closed down because the institution could not pay the N300 million ransom demanded by the cultists.
Truly the hoodlums are at war with my state. They are winning while the state administration led by Udom Emmanuel, a deacon of the Qua Iboe Church; a touted former top-flight banker and self-proclaimed harbinger of phantom industrialization, looks dazed, helpless, clueless, listless, preoccupied with the phantasmagoria of coconut refinery, armoured car assembly plant and tomato farming.
SYMBOL OF FAILURE
Insecurity has come to define the Udom Emmanuel administration perhaps better than the multitude of other failures that give this government a permanent pavilion in the hall of infamy. Yet, our governor receives a princely sum of N2 billion every month as security vote! So, what does he do with the money? Last year, a member of the House of Representatives representing Etim Ekpo federal constituency, Hon Emmanuel Ekon, had to issue an SOS to the heads of security agencies and officials of the Federal Government with responsibility for security in respect of the calamitous situation in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun. It is instructive that Ekon did not include Udom Emmanuel in the list of those he sought out for help, though he is the chief security officer of the state. It was deliberate. Udom Emmanuel can offer no help. He is clueless. He is completely out of his depth in his current job. And of course, he is inured to violence and bloodshed, having become governor through bloodshed too. Akpabio who gave him the governorship should be tried for the Peter Principle if it were a crime!
Thanks to the Federal Government, the Inspector General of Police sent a special squad to investigate Mr Ekon’s SOS. Among those questioned by the IG’s squad is Mr Emmanuel Enoidem, the National Legal Adviser of the PDP. Enoidem, who served the Akpabio administration for eight years as a commissioner, is touted as a PDP strongman in Etim Ekpo. During the Akpabio era, he was nabbed by the police in Port Harcourt for illegal possession of a gun. The IG has a responsibility to re-visit the matter.
There is need to tie these all up. The terrorists who are reducing Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo to a wasteland are mutants from the nest of killers who murdered for Udom Emmanuel to be installed governor. There is even a twist in the saga. The arrowhead of the terror in Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo was an urchin called Akaninyene Jumbo, aka Iso Akpafid. In an intricate operation in January, Iso Akpafid was killed by Special Forces sent by the President. We understand that the death of Iso Akpafid so dismayed his paymasters in Uyo who had used him before, during and after the 2015 general elections that they vowed to replace him soon after his death. With another election cycle around the corner, the merchants of evil wasted no time in recruiting the deputy to the fallen thug as the next leader of the terror gang.
Before the death of Iso Akpafid, his deputy, nicknamed Stainless, who had been incarcerated at Ikot Ekpene prison, was sprung out from justice last December in a dare-devil, commando jail break operation by his colleagues. It was to the deputy that the paymasters turned when Iso Akpafid met his waterloo. The second in command who leads the gang now is from Etim Ekpo. Can that explain why the epic-center of the daily slaughter has shifted to Etim Ekpo? When Iso Akpafid commanded the gang, Ukanafun, where he came from, received the brunt of the carnage.
The criminal world of terror in Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo is webbed with the political leadership calling the shots in the state now. With such mutually beneficial relationship, the recent proscription order on cult groups in the state is bound to ring hollow. In fact, there is palpable fear among the people as we are about to enter another election cycle that the whole state would be thrown into another spasm of violence reminiscent of the Akpabio era. Reading the riot Act and proscription of cultism by Mr. Emmanuel will amount to nothing unless known cultists in his government are sacked and jailed thereby cutting the source of funding for these dastardly acts.
OUR REQUEST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
1. We respectfully request President Muhammadu Buhari to send the Inspector General of Police to Akwa Ibom State, just as he was sent to Benue, Plateau, Nassarawa, etc on a fact-finding mission.
2. The IG should thoroughly investigate the complicity of the state government and politicians in the cult killings in Ukanafuna and Etim Ekpo local government areas.
3. The Federal Government should consider declaration of a State of Emergency in the affected communities as part of efforts to exterminate the cancer plaguing the area.
4. The Federal Government should put the state administration on notice that a resurgence of terror, violence, intimidation, kidnappings and assassinations in the build up to the next elections would attract severe consequences, including a declaration of a state of emergency in the entire state.
Barr. Edet Eyo Bassey (Esq.)
State Publicity Secretary
APC, Akwa Ibom Chapter