Two days after his nomination as the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Ekere, yesterday narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at his house in Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo, the state capital.
Ekere was meeting party leaders in the nearby residence of the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Mr. Umana Umana, when the bullet, clearly targeted at him, was fired into his upstairs bedroom where his wife and sister were at the time.
Following a distress call from his wife, Ekere, accompanied by party leaders, rushed home to the scene of the incident.
The scene was subsequently cordoned off and the expended bullet taken away by security agents following the visit of the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi and some personnel from the Police and the Department of State Services (DSS).
Addressing a press conference later,Ekere said the incident was very disturbing coming at the beginning of the electioneering season and shortly after an attack on the residence of former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, following Akpabio’s defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He appealed to the Inspector-General of Police and the DSS Director-General to take a serious look at the security situation in the state and the attempt on his life coming shortly after Governor Udom Emmanuel recruited some notorious retired and serving security personnel who previously served in the state to form his security architecture.
Ekere also condemned the destruction of some of his campaign billboards in Uyo and the threat by the State Ministry of Environment to bring down his billboards still standing.
“We don’t understand this level of intolerance for the opposition. Democracy is about allowing people to choose who they want. I call on the Federal Government to cause the State Government to allow democracy to thrive in Akwa Ibom State without let or hindrance,” he said.
The APC State Caucus Chairman, Chief Don Etiebet, described the assassination attempt on Ekere as callous, sad and untoward and called on security agencies to thoroughly investigate it.
He also condemned the several attacks on APC members by suspected PDP thugs and warned that APC members may be forced to engage in self defence if the attacks continued unchecked.
The APC State Chairman, Hon Ini Okopido, said the party was shocked that “we just nominated a candidate two days ago and they came here to kill him today.”
He criticised the State Government for issuing a nolle prosequi to discontinue the trial of suspected PDP thugs who were arraigned in court by the Police for violently disrupting a rally by APC in Ika, his local government area.
The former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, recalled the attack on his residence and said the assassination attempt on Ekere was a panicky measure to intimidate the APC which is heading for victory in the state.
“Now, it is very clear that this is an orchestrated attempt to intimidate the APC. When they say that APC is in opposition, I disagree. If we were in opposition before, now with the influx of Akwa Ibom people into APC in the last one and a half months, I can tell you that the APC is actually the majority party in Akwa Ibom State. What is happening is a panicky measure I cannot see why a State Government will attempt to introduce violence when it is very clear that they are losing election.
This is not from me. It is not from the candidate, Nsima Ekere, that they attempted to eliminate today. It is clearly the decision of the entirety of Akwa Ibom people. Majority of Akwa Ibom citizens today are in APC. Those that we have registered today as members of APC are well over 500,000.
The election is as good as won for Mr President, for Obong Nsima Ekere and for the rest of APC family in Akwa Ibom,” he said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, described the assassination attempt as sickening and uncalled for and expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost.
He vowed that “we will not be threatened to back down on the decision to sweep Udom Emmanuel’s PDP Government out of Akwa Ibom State in the next election and to elect Obong Nsima Ekere as our Governor in 2019 because no matter the threats and antics, the people of Akwa Ibom
State are determined.”