A’Ibom Community Rues Over N10m Property Loss To Hoodlums

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A little chicken stood outside scratching the ground. It lifted its beak and kept on pecking the items on the ground. Within the premises, charred electronics, broken bottles, burnt zinc and household items littered the place. Thereafter, the chicken roosted on the debris of the inferno.

While the chicken perched few metres from the scene, Enobong Isaac, the owner of the burnt electronics shop, is rueing over the loss of the items and other valuables belonging to his customers. Isaac’s electronics shop was vandalised. His three generating sets, 17 plasma televisions, 32 speakers, three amplifiers, among other items, were vandalised by some suspected hoodlums.

An indigene of Nsekhe community in Ukanafun local government area of Akwa Ibom State, Isaac is an electronics repairer earning a living from repairs and sale of electronics. Customers whose electronics had perished in the inferno daily call him and vow to deal with him if he fails to return their valuables to them.

A father of two, Isaac, who said that he was wrongly accused and arrested on December 29, 2018 for allegedly fighting, recounted that he was in police custody when the hoodlums attacked and destroyed his shop. According to him, properties worth N3 million were destroyed in his shop by the hoodlums.

“Please, something should be done to assist me stand on my feet. I have two children and a wife and I have to feed them. I used to sell and repair electronics in that shop that they destroyed. They took people’s properties that were given to me to repair and the ones for sale. Now the owners of those appliances are coming after me,” he said.

Another victim of incident, Ezekiel Sunday, whose kerosone retail outlet was set ablaze, said he returned home from a neighboring village to behold the ugly incident.

His kerosene retail outlet housing tanker, pump and many containers, according to him, worth about N1 million, was totally burnt by the irate youths.

In addition, 10 residential houses including that of Mr. Ita Udom, Chief Superintendent of Police, borehole in a primary health centre, Qua Iboe Church as well more than 10 kiosks were consumed in the crisis that rocked Nsekhe village allegedly perpetrated by persons suspected to be Utu Ikot Eboro youths.

In all, properties worth N10 million were destroyed by the hoodlums in the community.

An anonymous source told Straightnews that the crisis that snowballed into destruction of property in Nsekhe may not be unconnected with the ensued fracas between Nsekhe in Ukanafun and the neighbouring Utu Ikot Eboro in Etim Ekpo local government area over an age-long land dispute between the two neighbours.

“The dispute has lasted more than 50 years. The two villages were traditionally barred from entering the land. However, in 2018 some Utu Ikot Eboro people who attempted to harvest oil palm fruits from the disputed land triggered the crisis.

“When the Nsekhe people who lay claim to ownership of the land heard that Utu Ikot Eboro wanted to trespass on their land, they viewed it as insult on their legendary property.

“The two communities came in contact and the build-up resulted in skirmishes in which people of both communities were matcheted and seriously injured while two persons from Utu Ikot Eboro were taken hostage by Nsekhe people,” the source said.

Another source said “Though the lingering crisis that rocked the two neighbouring communities had abated, the affected persons had nursed animosity and thought of ways to embark on reprisal attack.

“However, the opportunity presented itself on December 31, 2018 when the youths of Nsekhe embarked on marathon preparatory to their youths’day unknown to them that some people from Utu Ikot Eboro had hired some suspected miscreants to wreak mayhem.”

Trouble was said to have started when the Nsekhe youths gathered at Utu Ikot Eboro/Nsekhe junction roundabout when the suspected hoodlums attempting to provoke them started throwing stones and bottles into the crowd, an action that sent the unprepared youths scampering for their safety.

Two days after, the hoodlums embarked on setting some shopps and houses ablaze while other houses were vandalised.

Chief Pius Akpan Udo, community leader of Nsehke, whose house was also vandalised, corroborated the story.

Chief Udo’s doors, windows, ceilings and roofs were confirmed to have been shattered by the hoodlums. His ongoing building at the front of his house was also leveled.

Efforts by this reporter to reach the DPO of Ukanafun, Mr. Offiong Offiong, proved abortive as he did not take his calls.

Similarly, Straightnews reporter visited Chief Abel Udoekpo, the village head of Utu Ikot Eboro, and was told by the wife that he had gone out.

However, attempts by the reporter to convince the wife to give him the telephone number of the village head to amke call and hear his siade of the story fell on deaf ears.

Again, Barr.Ukanga Udo, an indigene of Utu Ikot Eboro also the secretary of Etim Ekpo local government council, whom our reporter called, refused to speak. Even the appointments he kept with our reporter did not yield positive result.

See photos of some of the ruined properties below