Posted by News Express | 9 December 2020 | 918 times
By INIOBONG EKPONTA, Uyo
Dare-devil criminals including armed robbers, petty thieves and cultists have taken over Akwa Ibom, laying siege to people’s homes, parks, eateries and other public places where cars, phones, laptops, cash and other valuables are seized on a daily basis at gun-point.
“They just seized my 35,000 at Ibom plaza,” lamented one Michael Akpan, a chicken farmer, who said that the cash was meant for the procurement of chicken feeds.
“Immediately I alighted from a mini-bus at the Ibom plaza area, one roughly dressed man in his 30s deliberately hit me and his phone fell off his hands. He suddenly accosted me and started engaging me in a fierce argument that I must give him a new phone. Before I could realize myself, I was surrounded and rough-handled by some others. When the matter ended, the cash disappeared,” Mike explained, fighting back tears.
In the same vein, Christopher Tom, a journalist, relived how over 15 ‘boys’ that he described as suspected cultists laid siege to his Ikot Abasi street and the environs, robbing from shop to shop and brandishing axes, cutlasses and some low calibre rifles to cow people to submission before making away with their personal belongings.
“I called the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Odiko Macdon, but he was not responding”, he said.
Along Uyo Village Road, criminals were said to have seized cars at gun-point and escaped to the neighbouring Cross River State. A popular eatery, Kilimanjaro, along Oron Road, was reportedly attacked and looted, on Wednesday, while at another popular eatery, Goldstone, along Ikot Ekpene Road, armed robbers were said to have seized a Toyota Venza car from a customer.
The collapsed security situation in Uyo, the state capital, however, reached a crescendo when the criminals invaded the Government House on Sunday night and carted away millions of naira meant for media workers in the state.
The cash, according to Government House sources, was delivered by the driver to the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to governor Udom Emmanuel, Mr Ekerete Udoh, for onward delivery to the affected media workers.
“The office of the Secretary to the CPS was burgled and the cash taken away by the criminals”, the source said.
Some Correspondents who visited the Government House’s media centre to confirm the incident met the CPS Secretary in utter bewilderment as she was too shocked to explain the incident.
However, Udoh was quick to assure the disgruntled media workers that the cash would be paid despite the unfortunate incident.
Apparently disturbed by the spike in crime waves in the state, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Iniobong Ememobong, while sympathising with victims, disclosed that “we are working in partnership with the Police to ensure that Police hotlines are made available to the public for easy Police alert on crimes.”
He spoke of Police apathy to policing the Akwa Ibom society in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests, disclosing that “I had to take it upon myself to transmit distressed calls from victims of criminals to the PPRO, after failing to pick their calls.”
The duo met on Monday at the opening ceremonies of the NUJ Press week at the State Council Secretariat, Uyo, where they fine-tuned strategies on how to curb what they described as “new normal’ in Akwa Ibom in the aftermath of COVID-19 and #EndSARS protests that led to the shutting down of the state’s economy for months.
Speaking in an interview on Thursday, Macdon attributed the rising crime rate in the state to the destruction of security architecture by hoodlums under the guise of #EndSARS protest, explaining “the problem of logistics and the decision by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to dismantle roadblocks and the stop-and-search regime of Police operatives across the country combined to exacerbate the current security challenges.”
Besides, he blamed parents for looking the other way while their children and wards engage in untoward behaviours and stressed the need for Police\civil society synergy to stem the scourge.
Governor Emmanuel, the PPRO stated, had swung into action and donated six SIENNA vehicles to the state Command, but said that the intervention was rather too minimal to address the huge logistics problems facing the Police in the big task of policing the state effectively.
“The donation of six SIENNA vehicles is just a tip of the iceberg when compared with the huge logistics problems facing the Police. We have 38 Police Divisions in Akwa Ibom and these vehicles were disbursed to special formations including Anti-cultism and Anti-Robbery operatives,” he said. (Nigerian Tribune)
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