Governor Udom Emmanuel has stated that the cult war occasioned by a spate of killings, kidnappings and arsons by the people he styled ‘miscreants’ in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas of Akwa Ibom State is being sponsored.
The governor, who did not name the sponsors for security reasons bared his mind Saturday during an interaction with journalists at Banquet Hall, Government House, Uyo, assured that the culprits would be fished out and punished accordingly.
Last week, Udom Ekpoudom, retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police had also raised alarm on the clashes by secret cultists being sponsored, pointing accusing fingers on those he described as immature and selfish politicians as the architects of the problem in the areas.
In April this year, Governor Emmanuel held security meeting for the people of Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun at Utu Etim Ekpo, headquarters of Etim Ekpo and called on the hoodlums to surrender their arms and ammunition to the police at any police station in the state for pardon.
Emmanuel who was answering a question by a journalist on what he has done to nip the problem in the bud said government was on top of the situation to bring to an end the wanton destruction of lives and property in the areas.
He was quick to tell parents “Let me also make an appeal, parents, what is happening now in most, in these places he is talking about, 99.9 per cent out of cultism, the bedrock of every problem. Every security challenge in this country, the bedrock of crime is traced to cultism.
“When people are initiated into cultism, the first thing is to give them gun. I don’t know whether that is what we need in our society. I don’t know whether that is the best value system we can hand over to our people. That wasn’t the practice, that wasn’t our society, that wasn’t our culture, that wasn’t what we were built to understand, but that’s what is taking place now.
“And when you initiate these people to the group you are the chief now, the same people we are talking about is like any other thing. And once these people grow, they also need to go and form their own organisations, because they too they want to be chief executive like you. So next minute, they also look for small boys to recruit.”
The governor who talked angrily on the insurgence, “Do you believe in a society to be, even when we were doing the sports festival (I am sorry to say this on television), but I don’t have a choice, because I want the society to be corrected. Even when we were doing the sports festival of secondary schools, pupils were threatening each other based on their cult groups.”
The insinuation is that cultism has permeated the spectrum of primary and secondary schools in the state. He continued “So, government cannot do it alone, parents have a role to play. You see a brother who is behaving anyhow; you need to caution that brother. Sorry, that’s not what you need to make it in life; you can challenge me anytime to it, that’s not what you need to make it in life. Most of them go, they don’t come back. I am on live telelvision, I can’t tell you everything.”
According to him, “Some of them, even at the point of initiation, they don’t come back, and next minute, you’ll report you don’t see your brother or child. When he started, did you caution him? And everything is placed on government. We have a role to play, let our people know that is not the way to succeed, that’s not the way to make it in life. All the people who have made it in life, that wasn’t the thing that made them to succeed.
“There is a better way to make it in life. So, please let us also help one another. We as governors will also do our best, we’ll also carry out on the campaigns all round,” he concluded.
For more than two years, the two areas have been embroiled in senseless killings, rapes and abduction of innocent persons by unknown gunmen, thus making many to have deserted their ancestral homes to safer neighbouring communities.
Thousands have been killed, hundreds abducted had paid ransom while others have been maimed and rendered homeless in the thick of the engulfing inferno.
Though many of the hoodlums had been arrested, others killed by civilan Joint Task Force, pockets of insurgents still patrol the areas and perpetrate havoc. Even the notorious, but dreaded Akainyene Jumbo nicknamed “Iso Akpafid” and his lieutenant, Stainless had been mowed down.
Last week, the cultists abducted four church elders, set many houses ablaze and killed four persons in Uruk Ata 11 of Etim Ekpo.
Two days after, another batch of gunmen struck at Obong University, Obong Ntak and escaped with three female students who are still at large.
A report from Ukanafun has it that some hoodlums set ablaze the house of Etim Akpan Nkanang popularly known as Ambassador and vandalised the houses of Aniekan Nkanang and Chief Sunday Daniel of Ikot Udo Obobo on Sunday June 3.
A source in the family indicated that some months ago the hoodlums sent a letter to Ambassador demanding him to pay a specified ransom to them or be ready for the consequence.
It was alleged that the hoodlums came on motor cycles and razed the house of Etim Nkanang and vandalised the houses of the two who are said to be relatives of Nkanang before they fled the scene.