Irked by the spate of senseless killings, rapes, kidnappings by unknown hoodlums in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas of the state, Akwa Ibom government, Friday, vowed to end the violent cult war in the areas, but later presented succour to persons affected by the lingering crisis.
The war that has prevailed in most communities in the two areas for more than three years now has consumed thousands, destruction of countless houses, rapes of many and kidnapping of hundreds for ransom.
Consequently, people in the affected communities have deserted, schools closed down, markets locked up, churches under lock and key while the most of the villagers now Internally Displaced Persons are residing in Abak, Ikot Ekpene, Uyo and other safer neighbouring communities.
Governor Udom Emmanuel, who was at the council headquarters, Utu Etim Ekpo, Friday, August 3, extended an olive branch to the youths orchestrating crises in the areas.
The governor’s visit to the crisis-rocked areas might not be unconnected with the killing of one soldier and five persons in Iwukem community by unknown gunmen one week ago, an action that lead to a detachment of soldiers visiting mayhem on the village and setting some market stalls and houses in the area ablaze.
Emmanuel called on the youths to sheathe their sword and come out for rehabilitation, stressing that his administration has zero-tolerance violence and cult-related clashes.
In May this year, the governor addressed the people of Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun at Utu Etim Ekpo hearquarters and called the suspected miscreants to surrender their arms to the police to allow peace to reign, though the hoodlums resumed assaults a day after in some viallges.
However, Emmanuel presented relief materials to the internally displaced persons of the affected communities in Iwukem, and called on sponsors of the gangsters to see the need for peace and normalcy in the area to forestall further bloodshed and destruction of properties.
He sympathised with the displaced persons over their plight, maintaining that crises do not allow development to thrive.
The governor also tasked parents to dialogue with their children to desist from these violent crimes and embrace his amnesty.
He charged the coordinators to distribute such relief items as bags of rice, beans, beverages, toiletries and garri, among others to the affected communities.
He said as a father he would not fold his hands and watch some criminal youths wreck havoc and bring sorrows to their families.
The governor had earlier visited Iwukem, Etim Ekpo, affected by the crisis where he sympathized with the people over their losses and urged them to reach out to the youths for peace to prevail.
At a town hall meeting, Mr. Udeme Eduo, the Etim Ekpo Chairman, expressed appreciation to the Governor for his magnanimity and peaceful disposition towards the plight of the people of Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun affected by the menace of cultism.
Eduo said that the provision of succour to the affected persons attests to his pragmatic and fatherly disposition, and prayed God to bless the Governor and grant him success in the next elections.
Rev. Fr. Martins Udofia, the coordinator of Christian Association of Nigeria, Etim Ekpo, described the visit by the Governor as timely and benevolent, and proposed a solemn assembly in the areas for divine solution to the fracas.
Otobong Akpan, the member representing Ukanafun in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, thanked the Governor for the passion towards ensuring peace and harmony in the affected areas.
Eno Akpan, a one-time commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources from Ukanafun thanked the Governor for the visit and provisions to the displaced persons and solicited for the provision of more police posts to boost the security architecture in the Area.
Uduot Jack who spoke for youths and Lady Magdalene Udom who responded on behalf of women, expressed appreciation for the visit by the state chief executive and expressed the hope that the youths would lay down arms and embrace the peace process.
The village head of Ikot Udo Abia in Ukanafun, Chief Moses Jacob gave a gloomy picture of their plight and appealed for more security presence in the hinterland.