…kill four police officers, sell land worth over N200m
…My life in danger – Clan head
…We will act against any known lawbreaker – Police Commissioner
BY IKE UCHECHUKWU
EKO-ODOSO—TENSION has mounted at Eko-Odoso community in Bacoco Qua clan, Calabar Municipality Local Government Area, Cross River State, following the invasion of the town by a syndicate of cultists and land speculators, which kill and attack villagers, including security agents over land transactions.
Findings by Niger Delta Voice showed that as early as 7.00p.m., residents, who have lost confidence in the security agencies, close their shops and flee to their homes because of fear of attack.
Powerful persons allegedly benefiting from the illegal deals provide cover for the gangsters, who sometime ago, burnt the house of a youth leader, Asuquo Udo Udo, found to have informed the Police about the activities of the cultists.
Niger Delta Voice learned that the sponsors influence investigations by the police, which was why many of the reported cases do no not see the light of day.
A source said that the rampaging gangsters, who killed a mobile police officer recently in the town, were walking freely despite the fact that some persons identified them to the Police, adding that the people were mortally afraid as police officers reveal the names of informants to criminals.
I’ve been attacked more than six times- Village Head
Village Head of Eko-Odoso and head of vigilante groups in the area, HRH Chief Effiom Edet Etim Omin, attacked more than six times by the hoodlums, this year, said his life was in danger, as the hooligans have marked him as an informant/snitch that reveals information to the Police.
His words: “I was attacked some time in 2012 and severally, this year, over the land matter, but they want people to think it had no connection with land. However, it later became crystal clear what the agenda of the land grabbers was to intimidate me and take over my fatherland.
“We are the land lord to PAMOL/MARK SINO COYS and their lease agreement expired two years ago, apart from trying to grab land and sell illegally, they are also destroying some economic trees. The attacks by cult groups has increased, this year alone, I have been attacked more than six times,” he said.
Alleged police complicity
According to Chief Effiom: “Each time I report to the Police, that is when the attacks will be intensified and when the boys come they tell me the exact information I gave to the Police and threaten to kill me and that nothing will happen.”
Continuing, he said: “I had written several times to all the appropriate authorities, from the governor to the Inspector General of Police, Attorney General, State Security Adviser, Commissioner of Police, and the chairman of Calabar Municipality and so on but the issue has even become worse.”
”The most recent one was the gruesome murder of a police officer by these cult boys who killed him on the land, which the Assistant Commissioner of Police ordered that no one should enter. Until now, the boys who did that thing are roaming freely and nobody has prosecuted them.
“They have grabbed and sold land worth over N200 million from our land and are still trying to use cultists to intimidate me, I know that some people from Ikpai Omin are the ones behind this, but I am really tired of the way the police is treating the whole thing.
Police benefiting from the fraud
“I want you to know that the Police are a major benefactor in this matter because some of them have been given land as largesse and compensation by these miscreants and for this they have turned a blind eye to our plight in Bacoco clan, especially here in Eko-Odoso village.”
Chief Omin further disclosed: “I was elected village head in 1994, certificated in 2002 by the Cross River State government. I became acting clan head in 2003 until date, by right, I am the longest serving chief in this community, and this is the reason why they want me out of their way. They have devised various means to do so, including using the police.
”My life is at stake, I am crying out to all concerned, both the governor and the new Commissioner of police to come to our aid in Eko-Odoso because this thing will degenerate into a communal crisis because my people have been patient for too long.’’
Shedding more light on his plight, the ineffectiveness of the Police and his reasons for talking to the press, Chief Omin added: ”Apart from being the village head of Eko Odoso, I am also the head of Ibeko Omin Omin/Eko Odoso Vigilante Organization they tagged me a ‘rat’. They say I am the one who usually informs the Police. Since the Police cannot protect me, it is better I make the whole world hear my tribulations and persecution in the hands of these people and what they are doing is against the law.”
Cultists settled police officers with land – Umoh
Counsel to Chief Effiom and Bacoco Qua Clan, Barr Orchardson Umoh told NDV: “The position of the law is very clear on this. Under the Traditional Rulers Edict of 1978, it is not permissible for a village head or clan head of another village or clan to exercise authority over a distinct or separate village or clan as the case may be. This in their wisdom was to avoid rancour and our courts have also given decisions on this, that once a clan is created, it remains separate and distinct.”
“Therefore, I see no reason for these people to be intruding into another clan, a separate village and a land that belongs to Bacoco clan, it is illegal, it is an anomaly,” he said. Umoh accused the Police of collaborating with chiefs from Ikpai Omin as well as cultists, saying that the police officers from the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, supposed to handle issues of unlawful possession of fire arms and murder have been compensated with parcels of land to look the other way .
His words: “ Chiefs from Ikpai Omin have been ‘settling’ SARS with parcels of land for keeping quiet and turning a blind eye, we have facts, we have real facts. I can also tell you that more than four police officers have died between the time that the crisis started till date, the recent one was the mobile police man killed by the same cultists and nothing happened.”
We‘ll prosecute any known offender —Police boss
Commissioner of Police, Cross River State Command, Mr. Ozi Obeh Jimoh, asserted: “I do not think it is possible for us to arrest a murder suspect and release him without the court saying so. May be they are part of the suspects who have not been apprehended yet. Whatever happened in the land matter, the Police do not have the right to give order for people to stay away from the land, and it is only the court that can give such orders.
“If there is evidence that anything like that happened, the people involved will surely be prosecuted. I advise that instead of staying far away to accuse the Police, the people should come to so that we can look at the matter and iron it out. We are not going to treat them as suspects, once again I want to tell you that the Police do not have the powers to release a murder suspect on bail,” he submitted.