Royal Fathers, Religious Leaders Condemn Militarisation of A’Ibom

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Anietie Okon
  • PDP chieftain berates Osinbajo over allegation of stolen votes

Okon Bassey in Uyo

Akwa Ibom State religious leaders under the umbrella of Fathers of Faith Wednesday condemned the invasion of the state by the military ahead of the governorship and state House of Assembly polls.

This is coming as a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and former National Publicity Secretary of the party, Senator Anietie Okon, has condemned Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over his recent claims that votes meant for All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last national elections in the state were stolen.

Prelate Emeritus, Sunday Mbang of the Methodist Church, who spoke for other religious leaders, noted the ‘high’ movement of military to the state after the presidential and National Assembly elections.

He frowned at the role of Senator Godswill Akpabio in the alleged ‘militarisation’ of the state ahead of the March 9, 2019, elections.

According to the cleric, “Although as an individual, Akpabio reserves the right to freely associate with whatever political party he deems fit for himself, but his unguarded utterances have however ignited unhealthy rivalry among members of the different political parties in the state.

“This unpleasant political atmosphere came to the fore since the uncommon defection of our son and former Governor, Akpabio, from the PDP to the APC on August 8, 2018

“Key among his below par utterances is the infamous ‘Warsaw Saw War’. Ever since he made that statement, things have not remained the same in our polity.

“As if to confirm the belligerent disposition of Akpabio and his party, the APC, the invasion of Akwa Ibom State 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 some parts of Akwa Ibom State, especially in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district, where Akpabio stood in 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 Prelate Emeritus further noted that with few days to governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state, troops have been moved to the state like never before, adding that “men of the Nigerian police have also become battle-ready.

“This militarisation 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 the 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.

“As a concerned body, we therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently look into the situation before
it degenerates into an ugly scene.”

In another development, an enlarged meeting of the state Council of Chiefs held at Ibom Hall has called on political gladiators in the state to sheath their swords, noting that signals coming from their activities are unhealthy for the state which is known across the country a peaceful state.

In a statement read by the Chairman of the state Council of Chiefs, Edidem Ntoeng-Udo Effiong Akpan, it advised all political parties and their candidates to eschew violence, thuggery, ill utterances which are likely to cause problem in the society.

Highlight of the royal fathers’ gathering was the presentation of traditional fresh palm fronts signifying peace to the three major ethnic groups in the state, the Ibibios, Annangs and the Oros.

Meanwhile, a PDP chieftain and former National Publicity Secretary of the party, Senator Anietie Okon, has condemned Osinbajo over his recent claims that votes meant for the APC in the last national elections in the state were stolen.

The vice president had last Monday during a thank-you visit to the APC in the state assured the APC in the state that efforts would be made to recover their stolen mandate, adding that it was impossible for Akpabio to lose election in Akwa Ibom State.

But Okon described the vice president’s utterances as callous and disrespectful to the people of the state, adding that he has been ignorant of the current state of affairs in the politics of the state, and advised him to rather look for solutions to why his party lost elections in his Ward in Lagos.

“When did he know that there was a stolen mandate here? The stolen mandate is in Sokoto, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Kano and Katsina States. Let him go there and show his preachment.

“For him to come here and desecrate the temple of truth by claiming that there was a stolen mandate shows complete disrespect to the values of the people of Akwa Ibom State.

“If he has nothing to say, he should keep quiet and stop raising the tempers of decent people. He cannot call himself a pastor and a professor of law and there are discretions and breaches of the basic principles of common conduct.

“When we are talking of the country burning, he is busy parading and pretending as if he is an expert in anything. Rather than talk of protecting the interest of those who have been murdered or those who have suffered carnage in Benue State, he said we should return to prayers. What prayer is Osinbajo truly capable of?

“They are talking about threats and destruction, and even on election day, an INEC official had the gut to say that there was a bomb blast, and that after two hours, the people came out to vote. Were these people animals or spirits? Because we have the evidence that there was no such massive turnout anywhere,” he stated.

On the fact that it was impossible for Akpabio to lose elections in Akwa Ibom, Okon said the former governor has “lost his glamour and charisma since he joined APC in his desperate attempt to be protected from his numerous sins.

“Is Akpabio better than Saraki that lost elections and he left peacefully and heaven has not fallen? That somebody lost eight out of 10 local government areas and is still talking about stolen votes is ridiculous.

“The number of accredited voters in the card reader was 14,641. Out of that, you claim to have 105, 000 votes. Are you a magician? Less than 15,000 people were accredited and you say people who voted were over 100,000. This is shameful and a monumental fraud in the embrace of APC.

“Oshiomhole is from Edo State, and the sitting governor is also an APC member, yet PDP won in the state. So, why is he not questioning the outcome of the election. Akpabio was being elevated higher than his competence.

“The vice president and the leaders of APC in an effort to massage the ego of Akpabio should know the dangers it means to us because they are encouraging breakdown of law and order. All I know is that the fate of Akwa Ibom State will be determined by the people of the state.”

On the redeployment of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, Senator Okon said the PDP is not afraid of a new REC and would accept anyone sent provided the person would not bend the rules.

“Igini has been resolute and disciplined in protecting the electoral guidelines, and people like him should be made the chairman of INEC ,but we will accept any new REC provided the person is coming on a mission of counting the votes that have been properly cast by the people. So, we don’t care who the REC is provided you are doing what is right,” he added.