AS cultists continue to terrorise communities in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, two chairmanship aspirants under the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the forth coming council elections have accused each other of having a hand in the endless killing in the area.
Vanguard reports that Parts of the council have been under siege as the cult war rages, even as the Commissioner of Police, Mr Zubairu Muazu, has launched a Joint Task Force, JTF, to restore peace in the area. PDP chairmanship aspirant in the council election,
Deacon Unyime Ekanem, said: “For now, there is nothing going on in the affected communities. The villages are deserted. The Transition Committee chairman is never in the council, he is taking refuge in Uyo.” Ekanem said all the village heads, including theirs subjects, are still in hideouts despite the JTF recently formed by the state police boss. He accused the Transition Committee Chairman of the council, Mr Udene Eduo, of not doing enough to restore peace in the area. He said: “Mr Eduo is the problem. He is the Transition Committee Chairman but he runs the council from Uyo, the state capital. “The boys are political thugs. They are used to intimidating perceived political enemies. As the chief security officer of the council, he can bring the situation to normalcy especially if he is the true voice of the people.”
But Eduo denied the allegations that he had gone into hiding as a result of the cult war, adding that those spreading such rumour were mischief makers, who are out to tarnish his image.
According to him, “I have never at any point left my council for any reason. I lived in Uyo long before I became the transition committee chairman. As I talk to you, my mother and father were in Udianga Emem village. “Why didn’t they raise the alarm since? The cult battle started in 2015, but they kept quiet since, only to raise the matter now because they know that the election is at hand and I am contesting.”
He said the state Commissioner of Police, Governor Udom Emmanuel and himself are on top of the security situation in the council as far as the cult war was concerned. He traced the cult war in the council to a disagreement in the sharing of proceeds from Nigeria Gas Company, NGC, in 2014, which led to the death of a cultist.
Assuring that elections will hold in all the wards, he said: “I am going into the election, I have already obtained my nomination form and I am going to win. For your information, 45 elders and political leaders of Etim Ekpo have endorsed me. I don’t have any fear.” Vanguard gathered that communities in wards 8 and parts of ward 9 include Undiaga Emen and Abak Obong may not take part in forth coming council election in the state due to the cult war.
Vanguard’s source said, “The village heads and their subjects are taking refuge in neighbouring communities after armed youths invaded the communities killing people and looting their property. The cult war which has been on for months now has sacked many villagers. They may not return to their ancestral home soon for fear of being killed.”