Despite the peace initiative of the Akwa Ibom State government and surrendering of arms, some aggrieved youths in Ukanafun local government area of the state yet to lay down arms are still holding some communities hostage, investigation by Straightnews has shown.
The online newspapers discovered that some of the unrepentant youths are adamant in not wanting to surrender their arms to aid the peace initiative while other villages are said to be no-go areas for motorists due to heightened insecurity.
The state government through the state police command had initiated rehabilitation and re-integration programme for the aggrieved youths as a way of restoring peace and order to the affected communities, through collection of arms from the repentant youths.
Though about 207 cultists-turned militants, now called aggrieved youths, have laid down arms, others still operating in the jungle are said to be perpetrating crimes making the displaced or inhabitants to dread their communities.
Investigations carried out by Straightnews show that some of the youths from Ukanafun wards 2 and 3 especially Ikot Udo (Ohaobu Ndoki), Ikot Odiong, Idung Idem Isoh, Edem Idim, Ikot Enang, Obon Odo, Idung Uko Udo, Ikot Akpan Eyara, Ikot Inyang Udo, Idung Idem Udo and Okoyo, among others have spurned the police directive.
“These communities are not safe as the ‘boys’ continue to hold sway in the villages and perpetrate havocs there.
“Some of the aggrieved youths in the area who refuse to lay down arms are using them to terrorise innocent persons and put their communities under perpetual fear,” an anonymous indigene of Idung Uko Udo revealed to Straightnews team at Ikot Akpa Nkuk on Tuesday, October 9.
It is alleged that the youths said to be sceptical of the state government’s rehabilitation programme are purportedly living in the Blue River and in sprawling forest spanning many villages and abounding the river.
At the peak of the skirmishes, some people in the affected communities had to flee to Iwukem in Etim Ekpo, Abak, Uyo and Ikot Ekpene, among others for safety, one of the internally displaced persons told Straightnews.
A primary school teacher (name withheld) from Ikot Odiong in Ukanafun confided in Straightnews that some of the youths go about the affected communities brandishing their guns and shooting sporadically.
“From time to time you hear sporadic gunshots even in the daytime. It is even scary in the night as they shoot at will to further instill fear in the residents of the ‘controlled territories” the source said.
Along Abak-Ikot Akpa Nkuk Road, few motorcyclists and motor cyclists daily ply the axis from Ukanafun village jetting to Abak and other safer communities to escape their angst.
Sadly, the road witnesses dwindling traffic at times with three or four vehicles plying the road measuring more than 20 kilometres.
Meanwhile, most internally displaced persons of Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas of Akwa Ibom State have not yet returned home for fear of their lives.
It is alleged that some of the youths yet to return their arms are still making their communities ungovernable, a prominent indigene from Ikpe told the online newspapers.
Since peace and normalcy are still elusive, most residents of Uruk Ata 11, Ikot Udobong, Obon Obot, Ikot Esop and Ikpe in Etim Ekpo and Ikot Udo Obobo, Ikot Akpa Nkuk and Ikot Inyang Abia, among others in Ukanafun are postponing their days in returning home.
However, Straightnews reporter called and sent a text message to the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Odiko MacDon to find out the effort of the police to dislodge the aggrieved youths of Ukanafun from their hide-outs, yet he did not respond to any as at the press time.