Akwa Ibom Under Siege

Akwa Ibom Under Siege
  • APC, PDP in political war 2019 Guber tussle linked to crisis
  • Speaker Onofiok, group blast Police, APC over crisis

By CHIDOZIE OGBONNAYA and INIOBONG SUNDAY, Uyo

Last week’s attempt at impeachment drew outrage from Nigerians across board.

It caused pandemonium in the South-South state when the Police allegedly shielded the five APC lawmakers whose seats were declared vacant following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as they attempted removing the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and the governor.

With the crucial 2019 general elections barely two months away, Akwa Ibom State, which is dubbed ‘Land of Promise’ has become a theatre of ‘political war’ with the major gladiators drawn from the country’s two major parties- APC and PDP locked in a fierce battle for the soul of the state.

Fillers from Uyo, the capital of the oil-rich state says that last week’s occurrence is just a tip of the iceberg with regards to the chaos billed to hit the state ahead of next year’s general elections as politicians and the two parties are reinvigorating their strategies with their thugs set to march themselves violence for violence.

Akwa Ibom State which has been governed by PDP since the return of democracy in 1999, have enjoyed relative peace in the state with the ruling party in the state dominating leadership positions from top of the ladder to the bottom until the defection of the former governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio from PDP to APC in August 2018.

According to our correspondent, the attempt to remove the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke had its genesis from November 19 when the Speaker declared the seat of five members who defected from PDP to the APC vacant, followed by the court’s rejection of the plea by the five affected lawmakers to stop the speaker from declaring their seats vacant upon his defection.

However, Nigerians, Civil Society Organisations and political observers were alarmed at the way and manner which the five sacked lawmakers tried to carry out legislative duties illegally with the backing of the federal government controlled Police.

Governor Emmanuel wasted no time in blaming his godfather and predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio for importing violence and bloodbath into the state.

He expressed worry by the dangerous dimension the state was swung into and the manner which the aggrieved APC lawmakers were aided to cause crises, alleging that it was a ploy deliberately designed by the Federal Government, FG, to create artificial climate of chaos in order to declare a state of emergency and postpone elections in Akwa Ibom.

“Akwa Ibom is under serious security threats and the Police should be held responsible. The Federal Government is trying to take over Akwa Ibom by force using the Police, and if that happens, they should forget about elections in this state”, he roared at a press conference he held at the Government House, soon after calm was restored at the Assembly last week.

“The Speaker acted within the realm of the law when he declared the seats of the five members vacant, following their migration into the APC.  They are desperate to take over the state and Akpabio is the arrowhead.”

Governor Emmanuel however, vowed not to allow his APC and other detractors to make him lose sight of what he has in stock for Akwa Ibom people.

Also, Speaker Luke came up with a big allegation that Akpabio has been pestering him to ditch the PDP and governor Emmanuel, with several juicy offers, but vowed he would not succumb to such overtures.

“Because of my refusal, Akpabio sent hired assassins after me”, he told the women drawn from the 31 Local Government Areas who were on a solidarity protest to the Assembly Wednesday last week.

Also Worried by the seeming dangerous turn the politics of 2019 has taken in the state, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, has expressed dismay and urged well-meaning Nigerians to rise to condemn it.

He particularly frowned at former Governor Godswill Akpabio’s war song, when he said that the state would be overrun Hitler-style in the invasion of Warsaw, the capital of Poland during the Second World War.

“People should begin to ask questions when they say Akwa Ibom is already up for grabs in 2019. Those singing war song that Warsaw will see war, we should be able to ask them, will your children be part of this war?

According to the Commissioner, the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel has surpassed his pre-election promises in a little over three years of his stint as the fourth civilian governor since the return of democracy in 1999.

He listed such interventions especially in the areas of human capital development, infrastructural revolution, job creation, rural development and women empowerment.

For instance, the electric meter company, the syringe manufacturing firm, the coconut processing company, toothpick and pencil firm, flour mills and other allied industries have been floated by the administration.

And the commissioner said when completed, such capital investment would go a long way towards changing the hitherto civil service state into an industrialised economy.

He then enjoined the people to be focused in order not to allow “the enemies of the state to sow the bad seeds of ethnicity and other political sentiments to overheat the polity ahead of the polls”, assuring that the governor has put everything on the ground to recommend him for re-election.

A Think Tank group formed by the governor and led by Senator Anietie Okon, who christened their group as Akwa Ibom Leaders Forum, AILF, appealed to the sensibilities of the people of Akwa Ibom, urging them to resist the Federal Government’s plot to seize the state by force in 2019.

The Coalition of United Political Partie, CUPP, lent their voice in condemning the ongoing squabble,  accusing the Presidency, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Senator Akpabio and the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led APC of being the architect of last Tuesday’s failed plot to destabilise Akwa Ibom and impeach the state governor with the suspended five lawmakers of the APC.

In a statement made available to AljazirahNigeria in Abuja same day by its National spokesman, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, the Group accused the IGP, Ibrahim Idris of running the Nigeria Police, NPF, as the Youth wing of the APC.

According to the Statement, “CUPP received with rude shock today the news of another display of impunity and legislative rascality by five suspended members of the Akwa Ibom State Assembly who are apparently being sponsored by Senator Godswill Akpabio, his APC government and other anti-democratic forces desperate to impeach the state governor Emmanuel Udom.

“We are more worried that these five lawmakers and their paymasters could unleash this mayhem on the state Assembly for the second time in less than two weeks without any arrest by the police and other relevant security agents in the state.

“We the opposition parties condemn in strong terms this attempted rape on our democracy by a few misguided elements in the state and their paymasters.”

The Executive Director, Save Ijaw Nation Group, SING, decried the chaos in the state and emphasized that the recent happenings endanger democracy in Akwa Ibom.

“Whatever is happening in Akwa Ibom State is an insult to the people of Akwa Ibom and it’s not good for our democracy. In our country today, we should be very careful. We have not finished dealing with the issues in the northeast and it would create violence and breakdown of law and order in the south-south state.

“I think politicians rather than resolving to use force and using security agents who are supposed to protect us, should resolve to selling their messages, whatever message they want to move closer to the people on campaigning, whatever message they have eventually. Sell the stuff they are made of to the people, canvass for what they should do; infrastructure, human capital development, then result in the use of force.

On the trending blame game of who is fomenting trouble in the state, Usman appealed to the principal actors and main gladiators to shelve their sword and rather pursue ensuring the people are taken care of.

“This kind of issue has happened in Nigeria before. Am calling on Akpabio and the leaders of the state to consider the wellbeing of the people. The throne belongs to the people and it cannot be taken away from them.

“The people of Akwa Ibom state are aware of the happenings in the state. No amount of intimidation would make them go underground. The people would protect what belongs to them.

“I am calling on our government to ensure that our democracy becomes the pride of democracy in Africa. President Buhari must follow the footsteps of former President Jonathan.

“Politics is not a do or die affair; It is about serving the people, not killing the people and bringing violence. I call on PDP and APC to start playing politics in a civilized way,” he cautioned

A political commentator and CEO of Acumen Empire, George Otene David expressed deep concern over the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly saga describing it as a parade of impunity with the anointing of the Police.

“How can just five people form the quorum in a house of over 25 members.  Am worried because in this case, Mathematics doesn’t just add up.

“Five people do not constitute a quarter of the house of assembly and a situation where some members are shepherd to the hallowed chamber of the assembly by law enforcement officers to carry out an illegal process.

“No other way to describe such activities other than impunity. The Commission of Police can’t also escape been clearly involved in this.  It is the hand of Jacob and the voice of Esau.

“As a Commissioner of Police you know what the rules are, John Abang was there and he tried to ensure legality prevailed. Now he is no more there, see what we have now.

“If Inspector General of Police is desirous of ensuring the elections are smooth before, during and after elections, then the police must not favour any individual or political and must always do the needful”, Otene advised.

However, APC state Chairman, Chief Ini Okopido, distanced his party from causing trouble in the state, hence fired back at the governor, accusing him of acting dictatorially.

“The governor caused the crises in the Assembly because he brought thugs to beat up the APC lawmakers, the five APC members were not there to impeach but in protest against obvious illegalities by the Speaker.

“We will wait till election day in March in order to legally remove him with the ballot”, Okopido said.

Also, Akpabio distanced himself from Speaker Luke’s allegation of an assassination plot against him and said it was the usual refrain of the PDP since he quit the party in August and challenged Luke to come up with evidence to buttress his allegation.


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