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The promise of death in Akwa Ibom – 1

By Dele Sobowale

“Those who want to take power through the back door will die and the PDP will continue.” Governor Godswill Akpabio, quoted in PUNCH, Thursday, July 17, 2014, p 19.

“Either one respects due process of law and the right of every citizen to a trial, or we live in a lawless jungle where one of us might be the victim of a mad executive…In a civilized society, you do not kill a man because you think be a bad man.” John Marshall, 1755-1835, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, 1801-1835.

I had prepared, for publication, another article titled OPEN SEASON ON AKPABIO IN AKWA IBOM on account of the avalanche of attacks aimed at the Governor of Akwa Ibom State – incidentally, by people, who a few months ago, were full of praises for the same man. How times have changed!

I expected a response from Akpabio. But, threat of death for those he described as “politicians seeking power through backdoor”, whatever that means, was not one of them. I had also hoped that Akpabio through his spokespersons or directly to the public would disclaim the statement credited to him. “I was misquoted” has, after all become the standard cry of politicians who realize that they have said something better left unsaid. But, three days had passed and there had been no denial. Are we then supposed to understand that a governor in the democratic Federal Republic of Nigeria is declaring death on people who have not been tried for any crime warranting a death sentence?

Certainly, “seeking power through the back door” is a strange sort of crime and totally alien to Nigeria. Governor Akpabio,  a lawyer, should be the first to know that. So, this is not a case of ignorance of the law but hubris of the worst kind. This statement, unless amended or withdrawn, had taken impunity to another level unknown in Nigerian history. A Governor, at inauguration, swears to uphold the constitution of Nigeria, chief among which is the protection of lives – without which other rights are meaningless. Strictly speaking, that statement amounts to Governor Akpabio openly threatening to violate the constitution which he swore to uphold. Surely, no governor, in any state in the United States, whose constitution we copied, would dare announce such a threat to his people generally and remain in office for long.

As it turned out, most of those publishing advertorials had accused Akpabio of being implicated or master-minding several murders which had occurred in the state since 2009. Granted, most of the accusations were based on circumstantial evidence, instead of proof beyond reasonable doubt. But, a person accused of violent crimes does not help his own case by threatening fire and brimstone on those who behave in ways he does not like.  Perhaps, the place to start is to ask Akpabio what he considers the “back door” to seeking political power which deserves the death sentence, obviously without a trial. Then, he should also tell us, who determined which is the “front door” and when and where was the announcement made for all politicians to know where such “doors” are located in the political space.


As things stand, right now, Akpabio has opened himself to intended and unintended consequences of his unfortunate utterances. Let us examine the unfortunate and unintended consequences first. But, before we do, it must be pointed out to Akpabio that a Chief Security Officer who threatens people with death has invited those who feel threatened to resort to self-help. Where are they supposed to obtain justice when the would be killer controls the judiciary and the police? He would be making the greatest mistake of his life if he thinks that potential victims will willingly and passively wait to be slaughtered without putting up a fight. Nobody, in Nigeria today, can claim a monopoly of violence – unless others don’t want to arm themselves. The United Nations Organisation agency on firearms estimates that there are about 10 million illegal firearms in private hands in the ECOWAS region; 60% of them are suspected to be in Nigeria. That is 6 million arms; clearly, anybody or group wanting to obtain arms desperately can get them. So can Akpabio’s intended victims. He should take this into consideration before he starts a war in Akwa Ibom – if war is not what he intended with that declaration. But, that is what he will likely get.

Lastly, at least for now, let me remind the governor that, he can get the war started any time he chooses. But, once the victims take up arms to protect themselves, he cannot determine when and how it will end. And, if the murders are perceived to assume ethnic cleansing in nature, then, “the only battle that counts is the last battle.” (Richard Neustadt, in POWER AND PRESIDENTS). That last battle might take years to end. A word is sufficient for the wise on that one…

“Some of the roads constructed by the present government in Abia South Senatorial zone since 2007 include Timber Market International Road, Uratta, Aba/Owerri, Aba/Portharcourt, Faulks Road, Brass Road…Azikiwe Road, Milverton Avenue… Also completed in Ukwa East Council area are Umuibe-Ohandu Road, Ohanso-Obunku Road, ..Eti-Onanku Road, DFRI Road…Roads that have been constructed and rehabilitated in Abia Central Zone include Ntiga-Mbawsi Road, ..Isieke-Okwuta-Ahiaeke Road..and Osoro-Obowo Street.
Courtesy: Dr Romanus Uwa, living in Aba, VANGUARD, July 4, 2014.

Altogether Dr Uwa listed at least 60 roads completed since 2007 in that article sent to VANGUARD. What can one do with unrepentant liars?

I know for a fact that it is impossible for even a blind man to stay in Aba for two months without passing through Milverton or Faulks or Azikiwe Road.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.