Chioma Onuegbu – Uyo
Tension is mounting in different parts of Akwa Ibom State particularly Akwa Ibom Northwest as Saturday, February, 23 the new date fixed for the presidential and National Assembly elections draws closer.
The tension is against the background of fears of the pre-election attacks on INEC offices and buses that occured in two local government areas last Friday, the eve of the cancelled polls.
Two persons were killed and 13 buses hired by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC burnt in Obot Akara local government area by hoodlums suspected to be hired political thugs, while the police claimed that its team on patrol had put out a fire at the INEC office in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area when a petrol bomb was thrown into the office by suspected political. thugs.
There are even fears that the development may encourage voter apathy in the state during the Saturday poll.
Meanwhile, stakeholders of the two major rival political parties in the state the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress APC, have been accusing each other of sponsoring electoral violent ahead of the elections.
PDP stakeholders, particularly from Ikot Ekpene senatorial district, have been alleging plots by the APC leadership in the state in connivance with the police to frame them up in order to arrest and detain them unlawfully.
The stakeholders of PDP in Abak Federal Constituency comprising, Abak, Ika, and Etim Ekpo local government areas during a press briefing on Tuesday alleged that through high intelligence gathering they uncovered plots by APC Chieftains from Ikot Ekpene senatorial district to use militants to disrupt the elections.
The PDP National Legal Adviser, Barr Emmanuel Enoidem, who addressed the press conference said their intel revealed that 34 PDP stakeholders from Abak federal constituency including himself, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko and member representing Abak state constituency, Hon Friday Iwok had been penciled down to be either kidnapped, killed or arrested before or during the election.
He stated, “In fact, it was one of the persons who attended the meeting at Mr Ini Okopido’s (State Chairman of APC) house who alerted us on the heinous plot.
“Consequently, we want the security operatives, the Army, Police, the DSS, and other Security organs to be in the know of these developments, investigate, and forestall the impending carnage. Already we have petitioned the Inspector General of Police on the alleged evil plot.
“We, the members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abak Federal Constituency and Akwa Ibom State, in general, want to restate and reiterate that we demand a violent free election, devoid of rancor and horror. Given the present ranking of Akwa Ibom State in the Community of other States in Nigeria as the most peaceful State, we want the status quo to be sustained now and after the election”
Enoidem further disclosed that they have information on illegal arms and ammunition depots in Nto Mbadum and Itak Ikot Onono, communities now under the custody of Emmanuel Ukpong of Itak Ikot Onono otherwise called General Executioner of the dreaded and deadly “Rockcity Group” in Ikot Onono, Ika Local Government Area.
“The aim is to have Ika as their operational base, where the culprits will overrun and overwhelm the other two Local Government Areas of Abak and Etim Ekpo”, he stressed.
But the Ikot Ekpene chapter of the APC during a press conference same Tuesday alleged that the PDP had hired armed thugs from Cross River and River States that caused the arson in Obot Akara local government area.
The Chapter Chairman of the party, Mr Etebong Udoh, listed PDP stakeholders from the area, including the serving Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Mr Monday Uko, member House of Assembly, Idongesit Ntekpere and the LG Council Chairman, Mr Anietie Akpaetor of sponsoring the armed thugs who had perpetrated the mayhem.
Meanwhile, the Akwa Ibom state police command on Monday paraded 10 persons alleged to be in connection with the arson committed in Obot Akara, 41 suspected fake election observers from Delta, Ondo, and Bayelsa states as well as 20 suspected hired political thugs arrested on February 15 in Ukanafun
The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP, Odiko MacDon who paraded the suspected political thugs, however, did not link the suspects to any political party, even as he had explained that investigation was still ongoing to know the sponsors.
“And on February 17, 2019, the command arrested one Edem Ekpeyu Bassey aka “Eteka” and Asuquo Monday Ebio in Ikot Ekpene who confessed to be political thugs hired from Ukwa village in Odukpani LGA of Cross Rivers state by a politician.
“Investigation is ongoing to find out if the arrested persons are linked to any political party or person. And whoever is responsible for bringing them into the state we will go after that person”, he said.
Meanwhile, concerned residents and citizens of the state have called on security agencies to be alive to their responsibility by adopting proactive measures and non-partisan in order to avert any violence and bloodshed before and during the elections.