A’Ibom: Bloodletting Ahead Of 2015 Elections

Godswill Akpabio
Godswill Akpabio
Politically-motivated murders have been on the rise in
the countdown to the 2015 general elections in Akwa
Ibom, ETIM EKPIMAH reports

The sobriquet of Akwa Ibom is “The Land of Promise.”
Indeed, Akwa Ibom is the short form of Akwa Abasi
Ibom, which means “God’s own state.” But recent
political happenings have shown that the 27-year-old
state is under the threat of ungodly elements.
The visit of suspected assassins to the Uyo office of the
immediate past board Chairman, Akwa Ibom Property
and Investment Company Limited, Mr. Soni Udom, on
Monday, May 5, 2014, is a pointer to this supposition.
This incident, which is the latest in a series, in recent
times, is a sad reminder to residents of the state that
the era of politics of bloodshed appears to be back in
the state.

Prior to the 2011 elections, the unresolved murders of
individuals who declared interest in vying for political
offices generated public disgust and fear.
Quoting an annual report by the Nigeria Police Force, a
Sunday PUNCH report of November 21, 2010 (page 3)
said there were 74,064 murders and similar cases in
Nigeria within two years.

A state-by-state analysis of this record ranks Akwa
Ibom State with a population of 3.9m (2006 estimate)
as being the highest with preponderance of such crimes.
Some analysts argue that Akwa Ibom’s status as one of
the richest states in the federation (it receives about
N20bn monthly) could explain some of the desperate
measures embarked upon by political gladiators in the
quest for power. The police report said in 2009 alone,
Akwa Ibom recorded 177 murders (most of which are
said to be politically motivated), 62 attempted murders,
one manslaughter, eight suicides, 21 attempted suicides,
320 assaults, 18 child stealing, 93 rape cases and
indecent assaults, 29 kidnappings, among others. The
2011 figures marked a remarkable increase when
compared to 2007.

Udom is lucky to be alive to tell his story. He told
newsmen that his assailants gained entry into his office
under the guise that they were looking for a place to let.
He said from the information he got from members of
his staff, the gunmen were armed. According to him, he
was outside the state when he received a call at 2:34pm
that some gunmen had raided his office in Uyo. He said,
“I was highly disturbed about the mission of the gunmen
because since I’ve been using this office in the last
seven years there has never been a single incident of
criminal operation in broad daylight around this
neighbourhood. According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen,
five in number, came into the premises and held the
security man and staff including students on Industrial
Training and a National Youth Service Corps member
hostage at gunpoint. They seized their mobile phones
and started ransacking the office room-to-room,
breaking into toilets, looking for me. The gunmen were
well armed as some of them had two pistols strapped to
their waists. When some of them started seizing phones
from my staff, one of the gunmen shouted, ‘Is that what
we came for?’ In anger, he shot at the hand of the one
collecting phones from my workers, cutting off a finger
in the process. But in spite of the serious injury, the
suspected assassin that was shot still went into all the
other rooms, broke the toilets to look for me.”

A former Deputy Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of
Assembly, Uwem Udoma, claimed that a top politician
within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party had
threatened to deal with Udom if he continued to oppose
the senatorial ambition of a certain candidate. Leading
contenders for the senatorial position in the area are the
incumbent senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West
in the National Assembly, Aloysius Etok and the outgoing
state governor, Mr. Godswill Akpabio.
Udoma said, “You cannot give what you do not have.
We cannot concede that position to him. If he deserves
compensation let Akwa Ibom State compensate him
because he worked for them.
“If there is no zoning in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district
and if we do not welcome zoning in Ikot Ekpene, we will
not welcome it in the state.” Udoma, like Udom, has
been vocal in his opposition to what he called the
zoning of the seat to an individual. He said, “We are
opposing senate position being zoned to a particular
individual. One person was killed in Abak, my own local
government area a few days ago. I went and saw the
blood and today again, we are having an attempt on
another life of a great son of Abak 5. I cannot keep
quiet. We know where the attack is coming from and we
urge the state government to do something about the
security of lives and property of all citizens of this
state. If the state government cannot defend us, we are
going to take defence into our hands to save our lives.
We will defend our children. We cannot take this
anymore.” He recalled that there were several politically
motivated murders in 2010 in the run up to the 2011
elections. He also observed that the trend seized after
the current administration came to power.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Akwa Ibom State
Command, Mr. Etim Dickson, confirmed the incident. He,
however, said information available to the police
indicate that the incident was not an assassination
attempt but a case of armed robbery.
Dickson said, “Based on the report we received, the truth
is that the incident was not an assassination attempt.
The armed robbers raided the building, stole phones,
money, other property, and started to shoot one
another.”
With the assassination of a PDP chieftain, Albert
Ukpanah, on March 13, 2014 in Abak, it became clear
that the state may be on the verge of another round of
murderous orgy, which characterised the state between
2010 and 2011.
An anonymous source told our correspondent that
Ukpanah was assassinated based on his unyielding
position towards some politicians in his federal and
state constituencies who desired second or fresh terms
in various political offices.
Ukpanah had served for nine years as state officer in the
PDP representing Oruk Anam/Ukanafun in the federal
constituency. It was learnt that some persons including second term seekers had approached the deceased for support which he turned down. Some politicians were said to be jittery owing to the belief that Ukpanah had the clout to thwart their ambitions. The deceased’s political associate, who refused to be named, stated that sometime in December last year, Ukpanah attended a meeting at Hilltop Mansion (Government House) as part of Akpabio’s effort to reconcile with aggrieved former state officers of the party.

He revealed that Ukpanah was very vocal at the meeting
and he spoke his mind on a number of issues.
It was learnt that he voiced his opposition to certain
permutations which appeared to be tailor-made towards
giving an individual undue advantage over other
qualified contestants in the 2015 governorship election.
The deceased was said to have told the powers that be
that he was yet to decide on who to support but that he
gave the assurance that he was going to support an
aspirant from Eket Senatorial District.
On March 13, 2014, the deceased returned home after
attending the Ikono/Ini town hall meeting and
constituency briefing ceremony by 8pm when he
received a call from visitors who parked their vehicle
outside his residence. When Ukpanah asked them why
they did not drive the car into the compound, they
replied that the driver was inexperienced and may
damage the car while trying to enter the compound. But
before Ukpanah’s son, Odudu, who was asked to
entertain the visitors could return with drinks, his father
had been killed by his supposed visitors who fled the
scene after they were sure he was dead.

Before Ukpanah’s death, Oyong Asuquo was allegedly
murdered on April 13, 2012 for voicing his opposition
against an attempt to impose an individual on the party.
Two prominent people, who were murdered before the
2011 general elections included a former South-South
Secretary of PDP, Chief Paul Inyang. He was said to
have been murdered right inside a church during a
service. Leading political parties in the state traded
allegations over the murder. Based on a report by
officials of the state government, an opposition figure,
Senator John Udoedehe, was arrested as a suspect. He
was taken to Abuja and detained before he was released.
Also, the paramount ruler of Nsit Ubium and Oku Ibom
III, Edidem Robert James Obot, from Ikot Ekpene Udo in
Nsit Ubium LGA, was said to have been assassinated on
January 30, 2011, in his palace.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan
Umana, neither picked his calls nor responded to a text
message sent to him by our correspondent, who sought
to get the government’s reaction to the issues.
However, state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Paul Ekpo,
said, “My role is to function as party chairman and not
on extraneous issues which are better handled by the
police.”
It is the prayer of all citizens of the state that politicians
would play by the rules and that security agencies
would rise to the occasion as the 2015 elections draw
near.

Culled from www.punchng.com

© 2014, Admin. All rights reserved.

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