The hooliganism and attendant killings going on in parts of Akwa Ibom, including Etim Ekpo, Ukanafun, Ika and Oruk Anam amounts to guerrilla warfare and should be tackled frontally by the governor, Udom Emmanuel, a former commissioner in state and PDP chieftain, Emmanuel Eno Idem has said.
Eno Idem told TNN over the telephone on Saturday that the terror activities of the gangsters defied any solution and urged all those behind the warfare to come out openly and say what their grievances were, rather than holding the people to ransom and disrupting public peace.
The former chairman of Etim Ekpo who is currently the national legal adviser of the PDP expressed concern that the local government he was ruled was becoming a war zone. He said the situation in the area was worrisome especially as the perpetrators were faceless.
“I am from Etim Ekpo. I was born and brought up there. As God would have it, I was the local government in Etim Ekpo and I have a personal stake in Etim Ekpo. I want to see the place peaceful. I want to see people go about their normal duties without being molested.
“I want to see sanity in the place. What is happening in Etim Ekpo is a major concern for me because it is unprecedented. That level of criminality is unknown in Etim Ekpo history. It is much more so when you do not know the cause. As i speak to you now, I do not know what is the cause of what is happening in Etim Ekpo.
“You don't even know who to face. Who do you talk to? These are illegitimate activities. You cannot even see somebody who will come out and say this is my problem. This is why the matter is of great concern and of great complication to me.
“Nobody can proffer a way forward over a matter you don't know the beginning, the end or the people responsible. Let the criminals come out and say this is my problem. Let them unveil themselves.
“I cannot say where we got it wrong. I cannot say who they are and I do not know their grievances. Every youth in Etim Ekpo knows I have a personal interest in Etim Ekpo.” He said he had contributed so much to the advancement of the cause of youths in the area and should be bothered when things go the wrong way in the area.
Eno Idem said he doubted if the crisis had some political undertone. But even at that, he said if it were a politically related issue, it was necessary for the people to come out and say what their problems were. “We cannot summise that it is a political problem. I know most of the people who are actively involved in the politics of that place. They should have come to me or any other political leader in Etim Ekpo to say this is out issue.”
He challenged the governor to wake up to the reality that the state was facing a guerrilla warfare. “This is like a guerrilla warfare. So, you don't use conventional method to approach this kind of war. I believe that the intelligence gathering apparatus of the government should be sharpened. The state government has gone a great work on this matter. Government has shown sufficient concern. But I believe that some unconventional methods needs to be applied.
His comments came a few days after the renewed hostilities in Etim Ekpo, leading to the burning of about 14 people alive. The victims were on board an AKTC bus on the Etim Ekpo-Iwukem route when they were attacked and their vehicle razed by the hoodlums.
Driver of the bus was identified as Nsikak Udokang, a 30- year old man whose mother's corpse has been waiting for him to bury, being the only surviving son.
He was born in Calabar in 1988 without seeing his father. He died a painful death and was buried Thursday in Uyo, without any family member or relative at the graveyard to perform the dust to dust and bid him farewell.
His death is coming at a time Nsikak, a driver with Akwa Ibom Transport Company, AKTC, was planning to bury his mother, whose body has been in a mortuary for years, due to lack of funds for burial. And now that the son is dead too, with no one knowing the exact mortuary the woman was deposited, one could only imagine the fate of the mother, who was expecting that one day, when she dies, her children will bury her.
Nsikak's only surviving brother, who was a fisherman, is said to have died in a river in Ikang, Cross River State, some years, with his body not found uptill today.
Having lost his entire family and with primary school certificate, life became extremely difficult for Nsikak, but was lucky to have got a job as a driver with Akwa Ibom State company, with the hope that things will get better for him one day.
Only last week, security chiefs in Akwa Ibom met in Uyo to appraise the security situation in the state. It came after the successful killing of a leading terrorist in the state, Akaninyene Jumbo, alias Iso Akpafid.
The security summit which was an interactive session between security agencies and local government chairmen across the 31 local council areas in the state that reviewed security situation in each council area and highlight some flashpoint in security matters while brainstorming on the synergy between various security agencies and the council helmsmen to stem the tide of terrorism, cultism and youth restiveness in the state.
The security meeting further analyse security issues in some volatile council areas of Akwa Ibom State with particular attention to Ukanafun, Etim Ekpo, Ika and other coastal areas such as Ibeno, Esit Eket, Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo where there are cases of pirate encroachment from neighboring riverine states which frustrates activities of fishermen and oil companies operating in the areas.
Sources of the meeting discussed that the security situation in Ukanfun, Etim Ekpo and Ika council areas where terrorists hold sway for about two years, became worrisome to the security chiefs who vowed to change the narratives in the months ahead.
In an interview after the security meeting, the Akwa Ibom Commissioner of Police Adeyemi Ofuseyimi said the security session resolved with council chairmen to harness youth potentials in their various council across as a panacea to cultism and youth restiveness.
He said when the local governments who are closer to the youths were able to engage the youths with meaningful skills, the youths would become useful citizen and contribute their quota to the society.
The police boss observed that when youths were idle; they were compelled to belong to cult groups to occupy their mind and time and encouraged the council chairmen to engage youths positively to the benefit of the society.
In another interview after the meeting, the chairman of Mkpat Enin local government said the council had engaged over 30 youths in the council agriculture demonstration farm where the youths are employed to plant crops such as tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin leaves and other crops.
The chairman of Esit Eket local government area, Iniobong Nnamso used the security submit to exonerate youths of the areas on allegation of regular conflict with Exxonmobil and maintained that the youth had a cordial relationship with the oil companies which they would sustain for future development in the community.