Clashes between supporters of two rival groups of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and some security operatives in Nsit Atai local government area of Akwa Ibom State, Saturday, led to the death of two persons and destruction of property worth millions of naira.
The casualties were David Udo Okon from Ikot Asen and Victor Etim Etim from Ikot Nkpene in Nsit Atai while three cars- Nissan Jeep, Honda End of Discussion and Camry car with other valuables were allegedly destroyed.
Trouble was said to have started when Mr. Nseabasi Udoeyo, Nsit Atai council’s Secretary, went on a consultation to the village heads of Ibedu group of villages on his House of Assembly ambition.
Though eight out of 11 village heads in Ibedu were said to have boycotted the consultation, three village heads honoured the consultation meeting with Udoeyo.
On arrival at the venue for the meeting, some supporters of a group belonging to Aniefiok Attah, another aspirant for House of Assembly in the area said to be backed by Chief Sunday Elijah, a PDP kingpin objected to the idea of Udoeyo purportedly fronted by Emem Ibanga, the council’s chairman holding the consultation at Assan Ibedu, the ancestral home of Ibedu people.
A prominent indigene in the area who confided in Straightnews said at this point, Udoeyo and his supporters had to leave for Ibedu village council hall for the consultation, yet Attah and his supporters still pursued them to the hall where an altercation ensued.
According to him, the exchange of bitter words between the two warring groups later snowballed into a melee between the supporters of the council’s secretary and those of Aniefiok Attah. An attempt by the police to quell the crisis and arrest one of the youths who wanted to chase Udoeyo out of the area led to exchange of gunfire between the two groups.
In the melee, according to him, some youths and villagers were said to have brandished dangerous weapons while some attempted to seize rifles from the police, an action that might have provoked the security operatives to have opened fire to scare the rampaging youths and villagers which resulted in the death of two persons while others sustained serious wounds at the spot.
An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity quoted Aniefiok Attah’s faction purportedly sponsored by a sitting commissioner of the state government (name withheld) from the area to have argued that since Udoeyo was already a secretary, he should not have aspired for any other position except on completion of the tenure of his present office.
The source, however, described Attah’s attempt to stop another aspirant from consulting others on his ambition as improper, blaming him for allegedly instigating the youths to block another from consulting as one of the remote causes of the mayhem.
Yet, another source laid the blame on Udoeyo’s arrogant posturing in telling the people that he was coming with government power and security and that he could do anything and nobody could stop him from doing so, an attitude that might have infuriated the youths loyal to Aniefiok Attah to go for a spoil.
In a telephone interview with Straightnews reporter, DSP Odiko Macdon, the state Police Public Relations Officer in Akwa Ibom Police Command, confirmed that the two persons killed by the police were hoodlums.
Macdon stated ‘’Some people went on consultation and violence erupted. Three vehicles were burnt and police vehicle was vandalised and police were shot at. Some people were injured while some people came out with dangerous weapons- pistols and knives. What did you expect?
‘’The police at the spot were called in for intervention to provide security, protect lives and property as well as forestall a breakdown of law and order in the area. In the process, people who attacked police and others were gunned down. Two suffered casualty. It is not that it was deliberate but people who came and struggled riffles with police were shot at.
‘’Police have picked suspects in connection with the crisis. Investigation is ongoing to ensure all the culprits are apprehended. People who were there- those who went on consultation have been picked for questioning. At the end of the day, police will announce the findings of the crisis to the good people of Akwa Ibom.’’