By Chioma Onuegbu
UYO — ELECTORATE principally at the flashpoint Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo Local Government Areas, Akwa Ibom State, have expressed their unwillingness to participate in the December 2 Local Government Election in the State due to premeditated killings and brutality perpetrated in the past one year by politicians in the areas.
I thought the Akwa Ibom Police Command assured of adequate security arrangements at identified notorious areas, indigenes of Ukanafun communities, who spoke to NDV, maintained that they were scared.
Politicians sponsor bad boys
An indigene of the area, who identified himself as Inyang, said, “Honestly, nobody knows what will happen that election day in Ukanafun because those boys are being sponsored by politicians. People will not want to go and risk their lives because nobody will care what happens to you if you are killed.
“Since politicians in Ukanafun do not want our people to live in peace, let them go and vote themselves. Many innocent indigenes of Ukanafun have lost their lives since these killings started and who cares about what happened to them? People know that these boys are working for politicians and that is why the situation has not been resolved.”
Private army against mercenaries
Similarly, another indigene, who did not want his name in print, said, “It is not all part of Ukanafun local government area that is affected by these killings and other crimes. Political interests in some parts of Ukanafun are behind it.”
“So when this group kills some people in the other group, the other group will now retaliate. That is what is happening in Ukanafun.
“Currently there are speculations in the area that even some opposition elements may cause problems to disrupt the exercise if they do not feel satisfied with the election result. So, most of our people are going to be very careful. But we are praying that God will help Ukanafun,” he asserted.
Appeal for adequate security
Some of the inhabitants, however, requested the deployment of adequate security personnel on Election Day so that the electorate would have the confidence to come out to cast their vote.
Police spot flashpoints
Reacting, the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Bala Elkana asserted, “Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo are two local government areas that have been identified by the Command as flashpoints even before the present Commissioner of Police assumed duty in the state. Therefore, we identify those places where we should pay more attention to during the forthcoming local government election,” he said.
His words, “We have adequate security measures in place to police the entire election. We are going to deploy over 15, 000 personnel to the 31 local government areas in the state.”
Etim Ekpo, Ukanafun get more special forces
“However Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun and few other flashpoints will have more security measures in place. We are going to push more special forces to those areas- the Anti-Kidnapping, Anti-Cultism teams, and the mobile policemen
“Also we will have other sister agencies that will reinforce the police in ensuring that the election is well secured. So anyone who thinks that he will want to disrupt the exercise or to disturb anybody we are prepared for him,” he stated.
The PPRO, however, said police in the last few months have adopted proactive measures to stem the tide of violence crimes in the two local government areas, adding that the recent killings in Ukanafun were isolated cases.
Police commissioner’s strategy yielding result
Elkana noted that engagement of stakeholders in town hall meetings by the present Commissioner of Police had yielded results, until the last two incidents in Ukanafun, and solicited the continuous collaboration of the people to tackle the security challenge holistically.
“Even if we deploy the entire policemen in Akwa Ibom Command to both local government areas, without the cooperation of the people, we will not achieve much.
Manhunt for criminals
“Therefore, we are saying that the criminal elements are members of those communities, they have families, and they have relatives. Also members of the communities know them, but if they do not expose them, who knows who will be their next victim,” DSP Elkana said. .
He declared, “On our part, we have launched a manhunt against the criminal elements and I assure you that we will definitely get them.”