Tension has increased at Ikot Udo Obobo village, Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State where militants are still holding sway, forcing the villagers to resort to sleeping in the bush for fear of being killed or kidnapped.
The militants appear to be having a field day around between Urua Udo Obobo and Edem Idim axis. Sources in the village said they have continued to harass them without help from the police.
Incidentally, the local government's divisional police headquarters is sited in that village. Last week, the hoodlums struck and abducted a retired teacher, Mrs Nne Udousung. When TNN called the police in Ukanafun and Uyo respectively on the issue, both the DPO and the PPRO said they were not aware.
On the same day the woman was kidnapped, the hoodlums had also burnt down a filling station in that village. Interestingly, the filling station sits adjacent the road to the police station. They razed a part of the fuel station and went away without a challenge.
It was gathered that the kidnap victim was however brought back by the same militants about 24 hours after her kidnap, after the family rallied to borrow some money to pay as ransom. It was learnt that the hoodlums had earlier pasted a demand notice for N1 million on the woman's door, some weeks back.
While in their den, TNN learnt that the hoodlums had tortured her thoroughly, apparently to compel her to mount more pressure on her family to bring money for them. When they brought her back, they left an instruction that they should keep more money for them, as they would be back.
The villagers are however of the belief that with a JTF team stationed at the Ikot Udo Obobo junction, the activities of the militants would be checked. The people have pleaded with the governor, Udom Emmanuel to save them from the hands of the militants by ensuring the presence of the Quick Response Service team in that village.
The same plea has been sent to the police commissioner. Both letters, written by the Ikot Udo Obobo village council, have since been delivered to the governor and the police boss, through the local government chairman, Mr Uko Idiong. Unfortunately, Idiong has not been taking his calls.
In the letter that was addressed to the deputy governor through the chairman, the village council chronicled the challenges they were facing in the hands of the militants. They told him of what widows and other villagers were forced to go through in the recent past and pleaded for his intervention.
In the letter which was jointly endorsed by Uboko Johnson Ekeke, village council chiarman and Obong James Ekerkere, Project leader of the village, they also recalled how lives and property have been destroyed by the hoodlums and how the government was not paying attention to their cries.
They said: “We your subjects have suffered on record, 16 attacks, killings, rape, robbery, arson, vandalisation by hoodlums terrorising the helpless and hapless Ikot Udo Obobo villagers in Southern Ukanafun clan in April 2018.
“Ikot Udo Obobo junction has six roads: Ikot Udo Obobo to Ika, through Okoyo, Ikot Udo Obobo to Etim Ekpo through Utu Ikot Ekpo, Ikot Udo Obobo to Obete, Rivers State, through Edem Idim, Ikot Udo Obobo to Ikot Esenam through Ikot Ibritam, Ikot Udo Obobo to Azumini, Ikot Udo Obobo to Ekparakwa. The hoodlums pass freely through this junction, armed, day and night.
“We have met series of requests for Quick Response Service, QRS, of your government to station at this very junction, but no promise has been fulfilled by your government.
Please kindly use your good office to direct QRS of your government to be stationed at Ikot Udo Obobo junction, to check further attacks.
“Our village suffered the worst disaster on Friday 6th April 2018, between the hours of 10.30 pm and 1.30am. The Ukanafun police station is three poles away from the junction, but throughout the three hours of the operation by the hoodlums, there was no counter attack by the police or the army that is camped at the Ikot Akpa Nkuk security village, despite the timely information given them.
“The Ikot Udo Obobo market shops were burnt down, looted, personal buildings burnt down. The secretary of the village council, Aniekan Sampson Akpan who helped in the arrest of one of the hoodlums by security operatives that led to the killing of one of the hoodlums was killed and his house destroyed.
They sought the assistance of the government for some of the victims whose property were either burnt, looted or destroyed. The victims were as follows:
Ignatius Aniekan Akpan, his father killed, his father's house destroyed, his shop burnt down.
Imekan Okon Akpan, Ojas International Guest House destroyed and partly burnt down.
Mrs Doris Maxwell Benson, a widow, five lock up shops building burnt down.
Ekpedeme Isaac Akpan, GSM phone shop burnt down.
Imaobong Monday Sampson, big provisions shop burnt down.
Monday Sampson Akpan, baring salon burnt
Aniefiok Ibanga Umanah, motorcycle spare parts shop looted.
Mrs Glory Thursday Akpan, a widow, beer parlour and restaurant vandalised and looted.
Pastor Precious Enyinnah Moses, 8-room bungalow burnt down.
Aniefiok Sunday Otoro, engine oil dealer, property burnt down and looted.
Meanwhile, there has been confusion over the whereabouts of a certain Inspector Abu, the police officer who was accused of supplying guns to the militants.
Abu, whose full names could not be supplied by the police, was speculated to have been killed last week.
He is believed to be an in-law to an Okoyo chief who is suspected to be behind one of the cult groups terrorising the local government. There were speculations that he was killed last week by the JTF.
In fact, it was said that the police commissioner personally ordered his arrest and subsequent investigation of his activities in Ukanafun. Abu was transferred out of Ukanafun to Abak.
When TNN reached the PPRO, Mr Macdon Odiko, he confirmed that Abu was no longer serving in Ukanafun but added that the police inspector was still alive and with the Force.
According to the PPRO, Abu was thoroughly investigated on the orders of the CP and nothing found against him in connection with the militants. He however said although he has been set free, investigations were still going on.
The PPRO also confirmed the mass transfer of policemen from Ukanafun. But he said only Abu was made to go through investigations.
In the mean time, top political leaders from Ukanafun have decided to remain dumb, choosing not to talk openly about the crisis in the local government.
Past and present office holders contacted by TNN for interview on the issue prefer not to talk about the matter, when they even take their calls.
For example, a former commissioner from the local government would always tell you to “leave that matter. I cannot talk on that, please,” whenever he is contacted for comments on the way forward.
Another former commissioner would not even take his calls. Even text messages to his phones would not get responses.