School, Market Not In Session For Months- IDP Cries

Street Interview

What is your name?

My name is Udosat Ukana. I am 48 years old and from Ikot Unah in Ukanafun local government area.

Why are you in Uyo?

I was internally displaced due to the mayhem that rocked my village. I left my village for Uyo since June last year.

How did it happen?

The cult war started as a child’s play. The boys formed various groups. From time to time, they went into bush and came back in the day to commit the crimes.  When I was a youth leader, I tried to convince them to stay away from crimes. They did not listen to me. Can you imagine these boys living in the bush and coming back in the night to commit the crimes? What type of attitude is that? Uptill now, they still stay in the bush and come out to perpetrate evil acts and disappear again into bush.

Before we knew it, cultists turned the village and other villages into theatre of war, snowballing into deadly crisis making many of us to flee to other places for safety.

Where did you go first?

Initially, I fled to maternal home in Ikot Akpa Idem in Ukanafun. There, the war intensified and became fierce that I was forced to relocate to Uyo to squat with some of my relations.

What were doing for a living in the village?

I was a farmer. At times, I helped to draft land agreement for donors and donees just to earn a living. When I came to Uyo, I attended International Institute of Journalism and graduated with a Diploma in 2012. Since my graduation, I am jobless.

Where are your wife, children and other relations?

My wife and children are staying with my mother in Ikot Unah. I would have brought them here, but there is no money to rent accommodation for them. They are at the mercy of God because of how the suspected militants are troubling the few villagers residing there.

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What are your inconveniences since you relocated to Uyo?

It is a tramautic experience. In the village, you can enter your farm and pluck leaves and use. You can go to your farm and harvest cassava for your household. You can trek to another village or you can use bicycle to a far distance. In Uyo, it is not so. You have to pay for everything. You have to fend for yourself. Coping with life in a strange land is difficult and is not a palatable experience.

Again, I have to source for food and send a little to my aged mother and children in the village. Only God knows how I am surviving in the town.

Since you left the village, have you gone there?

Yes, I have gone and come back from the village. I have made frantic effort to talk to the boys to see reasons why they should lay down arms. Prominent persons in the village have been internally displaced due to threats to their lives. Anytime I sneak in, I have to rush out to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

How does your village look like?

It has a pitiable look. Major road and paths to the village are overgrown with weeds. As a one-time youth president in the village, I used to organise manual work and the villagers and youths came out to keep the village neat and tidy. But today, most of the villagers have fled the besieged area for their dear lives.

Are market, churches and schools in session?

For many months, the primary school in the village is not in session. The churches are empty since prominent and other persons have fled the village. Only the less privileged and their children who could not run to any other place due to financial challenge are staying there.

How about business ventures?

Business ventures are dead. If you want to buy maggi, you have to go to Obo Ekpo Market in Etim Ekpo, many kilometres away from the village. The miscreants have succeeded in injecting fear into most villagers to have abandoned the place.

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How can the state government help the villagers out of this problem?

Since man’s problem can be solved by man, I want to call on the state government to come to our rescue by restoring peace and guaranteeing security to lives and property in the village and in the entire local government area.

I also want to call on the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) headed by Moses Ekpo, the state deputy governor to provide relief materials to internally displaced persons in the village and in Ukanafun as a whole.

Do you have any message for your villagers and the miscreants?

Since some of the miscreants come from the village, I want our villagers to talk to them to lay down their arms and embrace to allow normalcy to return to the village. To the cultists, I want them to desist from violence but embrace peace in the interest of our common good and brotherhood.