Unknown gunmen have continued to plunge Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State into more carnage as more security agents and civilians have perished in the inferno.
Different figures of the casualties are still being bandied by the authorities and some eye witnesses.
One unconfirmed version attributed the crisis to cult-related activities and linked some highly placed persons in the area to the problem.
Another linked the crisis to secret training of disbanded Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) members in the area, but when the lid was blown open by some natives, the kingpin unleashed terror on the people and set ablaze the house of the village head of Ikot Akpan.
However, SP Odiko MacDon, Akwa Ibom Police Public Relations Officer, had confirmed ‘’the demise of CSP Ben Ajide who was the Commander of the Command’s Quick Intervention Unit and two others, while four others are missing.’’
In a Police Press release aptly tagged UNPROVOKED ATTACKS ON SECURITY OFFICERS, and dated 31st March, 2021, MacDon wrote ‘’In recent times, in Essien Udim Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, security personnel, particularly, the Nigeria Police, Akwa Ibom Command have come under persistent unprovoked attacks, leading to deaths and destruction of property, a trend which is totally absurd and unacceptable.
”Whereas the remote and immediate causes of these unprovoked attacks are unknown, a discreet investigation is on the way to unravel same and seek lasting solution.’’
According to him, ”The Commissioner of Police, CP AMIENGHEME ANDREW, fdc, Psc(+) is deeply saddened by the unprovoked attack on security personnel who were out maintaining the peace yesterday, 30th March, 2021 which led to the demise of CSP Ben Ajide who was the Commander of the Command’s Quick Intervention Unit and two others, while four others are missing.’’
”The CP hereby deeply condoles with the deceased families and wish to assure same and members of the public that the Command under his watch will not be deterred in carrying out its assigned constitutional mandate and will do all within its powers to bring perpetrators to book.’’
The police spokesperson urged ”The Police Boss, therefore, calls on members of the public to volunteer useful information, he further assures that such information will be treated with utmost confidentiality, while urging all critical stakeholders to be united and form a formidable front in order to bring the menace to an end.’’
However, an eyewitness identified as Veronica Asanga, who hid herself somewhere observing the incidence narrated what she saw at the attack arena.
”The crisis which is going on in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has lasted for some days now. The incidence of yesterday (Tuesday), March 30, could be taken as the climax of it all but for the fact that no one knows what may happen next.
”There have been different versions of stories narrating how the incidence occurred ranging from the burning of army Patrol Van, pursuing of the security personnel, and others.
Writing in her Facebook page thus, she stated ”Three army officials were killed and four army vehicles were burnt. She said that some of the gunmen hung live pythons and tortoise which made bullet unable to penetrate their bodies. According to her, one army man said as they were shooting, some of the men were disappearing and reappearing.
In another version, the Facebook chronicler penned ”1st Attack: An officer of the Nigeria Police on night duty killed at the Police Station, Nto Nsek.
2nd Attack: Two Police officers killed and burnt, vehicle set ablaze, too, at Ikpe Annang Junction.
3rd Attack: Officers of the Nigeria Customs and vehicle set ablaze at Nsasak-Afaha
4th Attack: Essien Udim Police Station at NTO NSEK set ablaze
5th Attack: Soldiers killed at Ikot Umoessien Army Base
6th Attack: Officers of the Nigeria Police killed at NTO NSEK and vehicle set ablaze.
7th Attack: An Assistant Superintendent of Police killed and burnt inside his house at Ikot Afanga, vehicle and motorcycle set ablaze.
8th Attack: Ikot Akpan Village Head’s house set ablaze.
9th Attack: More than 15 soldiers and police officers killed at Uwa Junction, three Army Hilux vans set ablaze, too (exact number not confirmed)
10th Attack: Random shooting and killing, especially motorists and innocent persons along Ikot Ekpene-Aba Road (mainly by the police and army.
Following the 7th and 8th incidents which happened on 29th March, a state of emergency has been declared in the area (Ntak Ikot Akpan, Ikot Afanga and Ukana Uwa West Villages), leading to total displacement of the residents.
However, Straightnews called the Chairman of Essien Udim Local Government Area, Anthony Luke severally on Thursday, April1, but he did not pick nor responded to the calls.