By Sixtus Uket (Calabar)
Palpable tension has engulfed Akpabuyo local government area, Cross River state following attacks by suspected thugs on houses of some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), destroying cars and looting household items estimated at several millions of naira.
The suspected thugs, alleged to be sympathetic to one of the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Southern Senatorial District, invaded the residences of not less than eight PDP stalwarts in the area between 7:00pm on Sunday and the early hours of Monday, though no lives were lost.
The homes of some of the PDP chieftains attacked included that of the State Organising Secretary, Mr. Nsa Ekeng, Atimbo West ward, Francis Effanga, Director General of PDP Southern Senatorial Candidate campaign council, Ekpo Okon, Elder Effiom Edet Ekpo, PDP Atimbo West ward chairman, Innocent Atsenudiara, a Supervisor in Calabar South local government area and loyalist of the PDP House of Representatives Member, Rt. Hon. Essien Ayi and the PDP Chapter Youth Leader, Atimbo East Ward, Amanso Okon Etim.
Others affected were Edet Okon Etim (a.k.a Sunny), Youth Leader Atimbo West ward, Emmanuel Eyo, Atimbo West Ward and Saviour Maurice, PDP Vice chairman, Atimbo West.
An eyewitness, Emmanuel Okon, told journalists that the attack was a coordinated one as the hooligans numbering more than hundred were seen moving from one PDP member’s house to the other, just as they destroyed the houses, vandalised vehicles parked at every compound they invaded and carted away valuable house items such as electronics, beddings and cooking utensils.
Okon lamented the ugly incident, saying the local vigilance team had to move in to rescue some of the victims and their families to avoid bloodshed.
In an interview with newsmen at his residence in Akpabuyo, the Director General of PDP Southern Senatorial Candidate Campaign Council, Francis Effanga, said he was surprised that his house was attacked because he plays his politics in Calabar South and not in Akpabuyo.
Effanga said: “I came back on Sunday evening and saw some boys mustering around Maternity axis of our area. I quickly drove off because I suspected something and later returned.”
“But about 10:00 p.m, they brought light and I suddenly heard people clustering around my compound. I peeped through my room window and saw over hundred boys armed with sophisticated guns and other dangerous weapons.
“I called the local vigilance boys and they smuggled me out through the back door, leaving my family members in the house. I put calls through to the security for rescue and there was no response. I thank God no family member was attacked apart from the two cars and doors they destroyed. They also stole the car batteries and other valuable car documents.
“I can tell you that these attacks were carried out by APC boys and their supporters. But they would not deter us; we are on ground in Akpabuyo and nobody can intimidate us out on election day,” he stated.
Also narrating his ordeal, the Chairman of PDP, Atimbo West Ward, Elder Effiom Edet Ekpo, said the attack took place between the hours of 2:30am and 3am on Monday, February 6, 2023.
Ekpo, who claimed to have known the identities of the attackers, alleged that, “they were shouting APC all through the attack.”
“This attack was a fallout of the meeting the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Joseph Bassey, held in the community on Sunday evening and some of these boys were in that meeting,” he alleged.
However, the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Jom. Joseph Bassey has since denied responsibility for the attacks and said that at no time did he send anybody to carry out anything of such.
Rt. Hon. Bassey, who is also the All Progressives Congress (APC) House of Representatives Candidate for Calabar South/Akpabuyo/Bakassi Federal Constituency, said he had always played by the rules when it comes to politics.
“I am not from Akpabuyo nor do I have boys there. I only go to Akpabuyo whenever I am invited and it was such invitation I honoured on Sunday to inaugurate my campaign office in the area.
“Those alleging that I was responsible for the attacks have nothing to say. I am against violence and thuggery in politics. People should play politics by the rules because we shall still live together after the election,” he stated.
When contacted, the State Commissioner of Police, CP Sule Balarabe, said they were on top of the situation and has deployed a team to the area to restore normalcy.
He warned those instigating crises to get ready as the security agencies would not allow anyone to breach the peace of the local government area for any reason.
CP Balabare called on politicians in the state to adhere to the rules of engagement before, during and after this electioneering.
He also called for tolerance from all stakeholders in the State.
Our reporter recalls that the attacks came barely two days after the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) Governorship Candidate, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani was attacked by gunmen at Betem, Biase local government area axis of the Ikom-Calabar highway on his way to his hometown, Nko in Yakurr local government area.