No fewer than 54 persons have been reported dead in Etim Ekpo local government area alone since the cult crisis began in the council, more than 2 years ago, the Next Edition has learnt.
The siege on the restive communities including Udianga Emen, Abak-Obong, Ikot Udobong Oruk Ata II, Obong Ebot, continuedWednesday leading to total breakdown of law and order.
It was gathered that Ikot Udobong Village was still razed and markets destroyed in the last attacks by the hoodlums.
Social and economic activities in the affected villages have been disrupted and local residents fleeing from the troubled zones to seek safer environment elsewhere.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Chukwu Ikechukwu, however said calm had returned.
He said, “I have just finished speaking with the DPO of the council and he said the place is calm.”
However, community leader, Chief Udiong Etokakpan, told the Next Edition in Uyo after assessment tour of the affected areas that “the exodus of the people from Udianga Enem to other safer areas was borne out of fear.”
He said, “The people had to migrate from the troubled area because immediately the incident happened, the local government chairman, Udeme Wilson Eduo, who is an indigene of Udianga Enem, had to evacuate his aged parents and other valuables to Uyo, the state capital.
“As the chief security officer of the local government, he has not visited the troubled areas of Udianga Enem, where he comes from, instead he is preparing for local government election to transit himself as elected chairman from November 11, 2017.”
A 45-year-old widow, who would not want her name mentioned, said: “I have resorted to moving away from my community, Udianga Enem, to rent a house for myself and children at Iwukem, because my house in the village was attacked and all I laboured for taken away by cultists.
“They broke into my house and took my personal belongings including cash. They also carted away several litres of palm oil I stored in drums for my customers, who come from the nearby Aba, Abia State to load the product.”
Disturbed by total breakdown of law and order, critical stakeholders have petitioned the Commissioner of Police (CP), Muazu Zubairu, accusing some political leaders.
In the petition letter, a copy of which was sent to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the leaders indicted prominent politicians from the local government for propping leaders of notable cult groups to unleash violence on perceived political enemies.
“This petition is predicated on the recent killings and kidnappings in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area and environs where the entire communities are thrown into grievous sense of insecurity.
“The local government has recorded various formations and massive recruitment of youths into cultism. This is largely promoted by the political leadership of the area in the belief that armed youths must be cultivated and reared as an instrument of coercion and self perpetuation in power.
“Members of cult groups are usually nominated to serve as members of Local Government Transition Committees and are also given the privilege of occupying high position within the structures of political parties at the chapters and wards of the parties,” the petition reads in part.
The coalition of petitioners under the aegis of Akwa Ibom Diaspora Union (AIDU), in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, also flayed the resurgence of violence particularly in Etim Ekpo, and blamed political leaders of fuelling the crises “for their selfish political interests.”
Charles Udo Atakpa, told a press conference in Uyo that “it is highly regrettable that politicians could be in the habit of using the youths to further their political ambitions at the detriment of human lives.”
They attributed the upsurge in political violence to the desperate ambition of the current interim chairman, Eduo, to transmute himself to elected chairman come November local government elections.
The Etim Ekpo Students World-Wide (EESWW), have become concerned in the crisis ravaging the council.
Leader of the students group drawn from the University of Uyo and other higher institutions, Comrade Estimfon Enang, has appealed to Governor Udom Emmanuel, to save the local government from the grip of desperate politicians using cult members as their private police against political opponents.
“Right now, I am done with my examinations and I can’t go home because my village is completely deserted following incessant cults attacks,” he lamented.
He asked the governor to look beyond the choice of Eduo, for the chairmanship position of the council.
But the council chairman has denied involvement in the crises, saying he was working with the Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) to bring the< violence to an end.