At last, militants appear to have succeeded in taking over Ikot Udo Obobo village, Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. On Sunday night, the gunmen seized the Anwa Uyo junction, burnt down the house where men of the Rapid Response Squad used as their operational base.
The QRS men could not stand the fire powers of the gunmen and had to flee. The villagers had to call soldiers who moved to the area before the boys moved out. The soldiers also left the place as soon as the boys disappeared from the scene.
The villagers who have now resorted to fate, as they do not have anywhere to run to, moved into the bush where they spent the night. The churches had since been filled up.
Ironically, the local government's police headquarters is just a shouting distance away from the junction. A chief from the village confided in TNN that despite emissaries to the governor for soldiers to be sent to the village, nothing has been done so far.
Even the local government chairman, Mr Uko Idiong is said to have been denied access to the governor. It was learnt that the governor preferred to be dealing with a former commissioner from the local government.
The chairman himself would not want to talk to TNN, even with calls and messages sent to his phone. On Sunday night, one of the villagers said they spoke with the chairman and told him to find his way to Government House to inform the governor of what was happening in the village.
It was not exactly clear why soldiers could not be deployed in the village to remain permanently. The perception is that the gunmen only blink once they sight soldiers.
As at Monday, there was neither soldiers nor men of the QRS in the village, leaving the village at the mercy of the militants.
In the last two weeks, the gunmen have had a field day operating in the village. Penultimate week, they razed some buildings, a commercial bus and some motorcycles. The villagers thought they had seen the worst of the boys until Sunday night when they returned much more daring.
As at press time, the village had almost been deserted. But there were speculations that the gunmen were lurking around, patrolling neighbouring villages and returning there from time to time.
Neither the DPO nor the state police commissioner responded to our calls, just as the local government chairman appear to.
For the first time in decades, children’s day celebration did not hold in Ukanafun Local Government.
This is largely because all public schools in the local government have remain shut, with the governor not being able to do anything.
On Monday morning, heavily armed security operatives were sighted at the Ukanafun stadium, not one child was there for the celebration.
Ukanafun stood out as the only local government in the state where the children did not celebrate.