The plan by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to militarization of the state through the importation of thugs suffered a setback on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, as security forces in Akwa Ibom intercepted and arrested 15 buses loaded with alleged thugs from Benin in Edo State.
According to online reports, the said thugs were contracted by APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomole on behalf of the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the APC as part of the strategy adopted by the ruling party after Monday’s Town hall meeting in Uyo.
According to political insiders, a closed-door meeting held at Akpabio’s country home on Monday night after the townhall and it was allegedly attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo.
The thugs who departed Benin in the early hours of Tuesday, March 5, 2019, enroute the Nsima Ekere Campaign Office in Uyo were intercepted at the Obot Akara boundary axis of the Ikot Ekpene/Umuahia expressway. The suspects were taken from Obot Akara to Uyo by security forces where they are currently being detained.
Some of the suspects upon interrogation said they came to Uyo from Benin for a burial ceremony on the invitation of the APC but were unable to mention the name of the person who died or where the burial was expected to take place.
In a related development, Senator Akpabio has been accused of vote buying in Ukana his hometown. Videos posted on social media on Tuesday shows women queuing up at Semek Water factory, owned by Nsentip Akpabio, younger brother of the former governor and were given #2000 each upon presentation of their PVC’s.
Many indigenes of the state have lambasted the former governor for plotting to set the state he once ruled for 8 years on fire and inciting violence that has threatened the peace the peace, stability and unity of Nigeria’s most peaceful state.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mmarch 5, 2019, in Uyo, religious leaders in the state, under the aiges of “Fathers of Faith”, condemned Akpabio for his role in what they called the “militarization” of Akwa Ibom ahead of the March 9, 2019 elections.
In a release signed by His Eminence, Prelate Sunday Mbang, the religious leaders said, although, as an individual, Senator Akpabio reserves the right to freely associate with whatever political party he deems fit for himself, his unguarded utterances have however, ignited unhealthy rivalry among members of the different political parties in the state.
“As if to confirm the belligerent disposition of Senator Akpabio and his party the APC, the invasion of Akwa Ibom landscape by the military, shortly before and during the last Presidential and National Assembly Elections of February 28, 2019 sent a wrong signal to our people.
There were reports of harassment, intimidation and physical assault of the electorate in parts of Akwa Ibom State, especially in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, where Senator Akpabio stood elections.
As we speak, some of the political actors arrested by men of the Nigerian Police and the military are still held in custody without any charge brought against them in the court of law”, the statement read.
Continuing, Prelate Mbang said, “As we prepare for the Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections next Saturday, gentlemen of the press, unfolding events of the last few days have given further reasons for concern.
It has been observed that the Akwa Ibom landscape is gradually becoming militarized. Troops have been moved into the State like never before. Men of the Nigerian Police have also become battle-ready. This militarization of our state would have been understandable and apt if we were in a war situation.
For God sake, we are not at war, and therefore, we condemn this suspicious deployment of soldiers and men of other security forces to Akwa Ibom State”.
“Commanders and other hierarchy of security forces should remember that professionalism is the hallmark of their callings, and they are never expected to turn their guns against a peaceful people, with whose monies the guns are bought”, he admonished.