The 2019 general election may have come and gone, but the scarce it left on some persons and families, owing to politically motivated violence, may never be forgotten too soon.
In Akwa Ibom State, there were confirmed cases of election related crisis in various parts of the state, either during the primary or main election.
For instance, in Uruan Local Government Area, gunmen suspected to be cultists, while trying to hijack materials for the Governorship Primaries, killed one Ukeme Efanga, who was said to be an APC Faithful.
The sad incident was confirmed by an APC Chieftain in the state, Hon. KufreAbasi Etuk.
Similarly in Uyo, the state capital, an acclaimed supporter of Senator James Udoedeghe, one Emmanuel Asuquo, was shot dead following sporadic gunshots by armed thugs escorted by security agents along Ikot Ekpene Road.
The unfortunate incident occurred as agents and supporters of gubernatorial aspirants resisted attempts by armed thugs and party officials to divert sensitive materials meant for the Governorship Primaries in parts of Eket and Uyo Senatorial districts.
As ugly as these stories sound, the saddest part is that families of these victims have been abandoned after the polls and allowed let to wallow in anguish and regret of having pitched their tents with some political parties and office seekers during the election.
That is the story of Mr Emmanuel Sunday Ekpuk, a popular youth leader in Edemaya, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area.
Ekpuk, widely known as ‘Young King’, narrowly escaped death, when attackers stormed his residence in Ikot Okpok, one of the 23 villages that make up Edemaya Clan, in a convoy of four cars and over 30 motorcycles and started shooting sporadically into the air to scare away the villagers, before capturing him, and keeping him in the booth of one of the cars.
Ekpuk, who narrated his ordeal to this reporter, claimed he has been ‘used and abandoned’, after working and risking his life for the reelection of Governor Udom Emmanuel and success of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Youth Leader who was accused of shredding campaign materials belonging to the APC, recounted how he was thoroughly brutalised before he was allegedly dropped off at Ekere’s family compound in Ikot Oboroenyin, in Edemaya, where he was reportedly interrogated by Chief G. S. Ekere, the patriarch of the family.
He was however rescued by men of the Nigeria Police from the council’s Headquarters and taken to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital for treatment, where he was told that he could not be attended to.
The badly bruised Ekpuk who was later relocated to the Police Hospital at the State Police Headquarters in Ikot Akpan Abia, in Uyo for further medical attention and interrogation, after which he was detained at the said police station, even in his sorry health status at that point.
According to him, he lost so much blood in the hands of his abductors, while it took the intervention of the lawmaker representing Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo Constituency at the State House of Assembl, Uduak Odudoh to get Ekpuk out of police net.
However, Ekpuk said he only supported Governor Udom Emmanuel and the PDP for the betterment of his community and lamented his abandonment by his party, after his travails before and during the polls.
Hear him: “Last year December, the present Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel through the Commissioner for Works, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang-eyen, came and inspected about 18.4km of road in my area and told us that the road will be constructed. I so much believed the Governor, so, I vowed to support him. I spent a lot of money, about 7 million Naira, to make sure that PDP came out successful in Edemaya. I’m a Marine Engineer and Welder by profession, so I put in lot of money. I supported Governor Udom, so at least, we will have a road in my area.”
He said his decision to support the Governor for a second term against Mr Nsima Ekere, got him into many troubles which further resulted to him losing his farm and other investments.
He said the situation has thrown him into untold hardship as he could not even afford his children’s school fee.
“I came back from prison and still did election for Udom. On the day of election, Nsima Ekere sent thugs to come after me. I had to run, but still came out again. Thank God I didn’t die. I have been used and abandoned. Even my Local Government Chairman (Ikot Abasi) that I used my car to follow around has abandoned me. My car had a failed break on the road, somersaulted and destroyed someone’s building. I almost died, but still had to build the house for the owner.”
“I lost my farm and my job during these travails. Since that incident happened til now, I have not had any contract. It is very difficult for me to pay my children’s school fee. I called my Local Government Chairman, but no help. It is not fair”, he said.
He said after he release from police custody, the former Commissioner for Agriculture in the state who is also from Ikot Abasi LGA, Prof. Uduak Udoinyang, promised him some inputs for his poultry farm, but however said the promise had not been fulfilled as at the time of filing this report.
Ekpuk further appealed for him from to the government to enable him continue with his business.
The then Commissioner for Agriculture, promised me he will give me one thousand chicks to boost my farm, after I returned from prison. But after I came back from prison, I have had nothing.
“I want the Government to come and start work at the bridge and road. I don’t want money, because if they give me say 20 Million Naira, it will finish. They should empower me in my field. If they empower me to send some people for training in welding and fitters”, he said.