A very serious clampdown by security forces on the activities of cultists and militants in some local governments of Akwa Ibom State is expected in the coming days. This follows the expiration on Monday, of the ultimatum given to the miscreants to turn in their arms and be forgiven by the government.
As at Sunday, the militants had refused to surrender. Rather, they have been more daring in their activities. On Saturday morning, a sea of terrorists invaded Urua Udo Obobo, in Ikot Udo Obobo, shooting heavily.
Soldiers currently occupying the village were informed and they responded immediately. But the militants ran into people's compounds. The soldiers were cautious and refused to shoot at random, in order not to kill innocent people.
A source in the village said the militants were more than 15. The quick response from the soldiers saved the situation as the militants were forced to flee. TNN learnt that the militants have relocated from their base in Ikpe Annang to neighbouring villages of Edem Idim, Ikot Odiong and Ikot Enang.
An increased activities of soldiers, secret and conventional police and other security personnel would be seen in Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo especially, as well as Oruk Anam and Ika local governments, although there have been no major security breaches in the last two local governments in the recent past.
In Ukanafun, the heavy security presence would be seen in Ikot Udo Obobo, Ikot Idiong, Ikot Inyang Abia, Ikot Inyang Udo, Edem Idim, Ikot Akpa Nkuk, Ntak Afaha, Ikot Akpa Idem, Idung Nneke, Ikot Effiong and neighbouring villages.
Heads of the various villages are also working hand in hand with the security operatives to wipe them out of existence. The militants have been terrorising the local government since January last year.
To assist security operatives in containing the miscreants, traditional rulers, chiefs and community leaders are said to have resolved to adopt orthodox means in getting the militants.
For example, sources confided in TNN that an arrangement is being made to engage juju experts from Ikot Umo Essien who would get into all the affected villages with their talisman.
The juju experts would be expected to see all the bad boys in the affected villages and cause the operatives to arrest them. It was learnt that wherever they get into, it would not take them anytime to identify the homes of all the cult boys.
A traditional ruler who is privy to the plans confided in TNN that “in no distant time, all the bad boys will be located and handed over to security agents. We cannot run away from our village because of some miscreants.
“Just watch out, in a matter of days, all these things will become history. Our ancestors will be consulted and they will help us to get them wherever they may be hiding. None of them will escape. We have had enough.”
Last week, the militants had stormed the biggest market in the area, Urua Akpan Assiek and set the place on fire. It was not immediately clear why they chose to raze the market. The victims are still in pains and looking forward to assistance from the government.
One of the victims, Mrs. Mercy Effiong Ikot who spoke to our reporter said that the burnt shop was all she had in life as a means of livelihood. "I'm Mrs Ikot, I deal with baby baths, plastics, foams, carpets, baby items, etc. I plead with the government to fight to the root of this matter and make sure they get the solution to this ugly situation before it's too late and out of hand.
“Where am I going to start from now? The government should call these boys and use dialogue to settle this matter and also compensate us so that we can use and start new life".
Mr. Mfonobong Ekam who deals on rice, flour, groundnut oil, salt, etc. in the market also sought government's quick intervention. He lost everything in the market. His words: "Just imagine the hardship that Ukanafun people are going to face in the next one month owing to this incident"
Another victim who gave his name simply as Mr. Ekeke told our reporter that the hoodlums had done their worst. He said that the government should take urgent measures to arrest the situation.
Chairman of Ukanafun, Prince Uko Idiong who inspected the extent of damage in the market on Friday sympathized with the traders and the bereaved families. He assured them that the government would consider possible forms of assistance.