Ekikere Umoh, Spokesperson to Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo writes that the COVID-19 Pandemic may have provided a cover for a gang of thieves who attempted to defraud the public, using the name of his principal
Akwa Ibom State was steadily becoming a safe haven for criminals, particularly cyber thieves who took advantage of the tranquility of the environment to ply their heinous trade. From the assumed safety of luxury hotels in Uyo, the state capital and the oil city of Eket, they conceived and executed grand diabolical schemes that dealt deadly blow on the finances of their victims.
The state police command was inundated with several reports of the nefarious activities of these daring thieves and would promptly spring into action to trace them, but the lack of physical addresses usually makes the exercise a difficult task.
Despite the determination of Governor Udom Emmanuel and heads of security agencies in the state to ensure safety of lives and property of the citizens, a few hardened criminals who have refused to be reformed continue to carry out their accursed business. They have since become so bold that they have made an attempt to siphon monies, while assuming the identity of the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Moses Ekpo.
Ever ready to take advantage of any situation, the COVID-19 pandemic is the vehicle of opportunity these scammers are riding on to milk unsuspecting members of the public.
Alarmed at the game of the tricksters, Ekpo has warned members of the public not to be taken in by the cunning devices of these online scammers who are using his name to defraud innocent people of their hard-earned money.
The state government has recently embarked on a second round of palliatives, having learnt from reports of its earlier effort. This time, the quantity and quality of food items have vastly improved and would be promptly distributed in all the villages in the 31 local government areas of the state. This is apart from the personal acts of charity by Mr. Ekpo extended to his constituency in Abak local government area and random communities in the state to alleviate hardship occasioned by COVID-19.
A screen shot of the message taken from the fake Facebook account with Mr. Ekpo’s identity states: “Due to the current situation (COVID-19) causing the economic breakdown, am using this medium to support Nigerians and empower them with the sum of N50,000 only. Call my Account Officer on 08081679628, Mr. Kingsley Udo for the transaction, only FCMB bank, Unity bank, Union bank, Jaiz bank users. Note: don’t send your bank details here, send it to the number above for your transaction.”
Mr. Ekpo’s rebuttal came through a statement by his spokesperson, Mr. Ekikere Umoh. He said, the Deputy Governor has neither a private nor an official Facebook account, and therefore could not have originated such a message.
“His Excellency has not mandated anybody or an organization to organize a COVID-19 pandemic palliative or any form of welfare based programme in respect of the pandemic, at any given time on his behalf,” Mr. Umoh stated.
According to him, the Deputy Governor has no idea of the identity of the alleged account officer, “nor does he have any account in any of the various banks mentioned in the said messages”, adding emphatically, “as a matter of fact, he does not have any form of financial transactions in the said banks”.
The Press Secretary noted that the Deputy Governor empathizes with the public, especially the vulnerable group, over the current pains occasioned by the pandemic.
The Deputy Governor said “within my limited means, I will continue without any publicity, to reach out directly to the poorest of the poor who abound in our villages, churches and communities, those who cannot afford bank accounts instead of dealing with faceless names
with bank accounts.”
He used the opportunity to commend the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel for identifying with the plight of the people, and his efforts at ameliorating the impact of the situation in the state through a number of palliatives.”