With the deployment of CP Musa Kimo to Akwa Ibom as commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom state command, it brings to about 11, the total number of Police commissioners deployed to the state within the last 3 years by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. Ostensibly, this incessant deployment of Police Commissioners to Akwa Ibom paints a picture of instability in the state. But that is a complete misrepresentation of the reality in the state.
A 37-page maiden report by Foundation for Peace Professionals (FPP) presented to newsmen in Abuja earlier this year, rated Akwa Ibom as the most peaceful state in South South. Presenting the report, the executive director of the Foundation, Ambassador Abdulrazaq Hamzat said the data were obtained from the Police, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and other local and international governmental and non-governmental organisations. “Kogi State is second most peaceful state in Nigeria and most peaceful in the North. Imo state is the most peaceful state in South East and 5th most peaceful in Nigeria. Akwa Ibom is most peaceful state in South-South, Kaduna in North West, Kogi in North Central, Osun in South West, Imo in South East and Taraba State in North East,” Hamzat said.
“Beautiful, or rather beach-full, Akwa Ibom state has been ranking high in almost every good list about Nigerian states in recent time, and that now includes the list of the most peaceful states in Nigeria”, says another report that rated Akwa Ibom as 5th most peaceful state in the country. This rating has been corroborated severally by various security chiefs during their visit to the state. In addition, a report released last week, in Abuja by Clean-Up Nigeria (CUN), an international non-governmental organization, rated Akwa Ibom as the cleanest state in the country. According to the details of the report, a research carried out between October 2017 and October 2018, indicates that Akwa Ibom state came first with 78 percent, while Cross River came second with 64 percent. Abuja came third with 58 percent, Rivers came fourth with 37 percent and Niger came fifth with 35.2 percent. This is in line with the fact that the safety and cleanliness of a state are inseparable.
Surveys like the above two (especially most peaceful states) usually rely on data from five broad indicators; standard of living, crime rate, quality of education, rate of human rights abuse, and level of incarceration. So far, Akwa Ibom has been scoring high in all the positives, which is the only explanation for all the good reports the state is getting from these independent surveys. However, for obvious reasons, the Police IG is doing everything possible to alter the good verdict on Akwa Ibom. By his recent actions, he has shown a clear bias which is in favour of the ruling All Progressives Party, APC.
For instance, during the last APC governorship primary election, two persons were reportedly shot dead. The victims, who were identified as Ukeme Efanga and Emmanuel Asuquo, were killed in separate instances as a result of the violence among factions in the party. “The victim identified as Ukeme Efanga, an APC member, was said to have been shot dead in Ifiayong, Uruan Local Government Area, during a disagreement over the distribution of election materials in the area. As at 8: 10 p.m., the victim’s corpse was dumped at the premises of the state secretariat of the APC, along Ikot Ekpene Road, brought all the way from Uruan”, reports Premium Times of September 30, 2018.
Similarly, it was widely reported that violence also marred the APC primaries in Okobo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom state which led to wanton destruction of properties including a divisional Police station. “The Divisional Police Station in Okobo Local Government Area (LGA) of Akwa Ibom State, and other property worth millions of naira in the locality have been destroyed by angry youths of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who were protesting the alleged imposition of candidate and hijacking of materials by the party officials in connivance with security agents”, reports ThisDay. Surprisingly, these isolated cases of violence perpetrated by the APC have been totally ignored by the Ibrahim Idris led Police, and ofcourse, other relevant security agencies. Months after these ugly incidences, the public has not heard of any investigation by the Police or arrest(s).
It is however very interesting to note how the IG has been (personally) responding very quickly to issues involving the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state, no matter how insignificant the issue is. For instance, the Akwa Ibom APC, in her “wolf in sheep’s clothing” nature, falsely incriminated the PDP in a petition to the IG over issues bordering on hoisting of campaign billboards in state. The IG immediately responded by inviting the leadership of the PDP governorship campaign organization to the Force Headquaters for questioning. Among those who were served the IG’s invitation letter were, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, director general of the campaign organization; Paul Ekpo, the PDP chairman in the state; Onofiok Luke, the Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly; Iniobong Essien, the Commissioner for Environment in the state, and others.
Also, the IG’s quick response and tactical support to APC’s lawlessness in the state on the recent House of Assembly saga is another clear case of political bias. Speaking on the unceremonial redeployment of CP John Abang, whose timely intervention prevented an imminent attack on the State House of Assembly by hoodlums and APC supporters, the Akwa Ibom state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh said; “Apart from the fact that the outgoing commissioner of Police barely spent a month in the state, the circumstances surrounding his removal is a mockery to the nation and a contrast to the insecurity battle of the Federal Government”.
Mr Udoh continued; ‘’Why should an officer who successfully resisted the invasion of hoodlums, and professionally protected an institution of government be rewarded with unceremonial removal from office? Ordinarily, such feat in other climes would have attracted promotion and commendation. This is a sharp pointer to the sad narrative that the force is tilting its political pendulum to favour a particular political divide. The danger this portends to our democracy is better imagined than seen. We are shocked to see this action from the Police that should unbiasedly serve the interest of all.”
Explaining the real reason for the rampant redeployment of security chiefs in the state, the state publicity secretary of the PDP, Barr. Ini Ememobong, while speaking on national TV, said that when the security chiefs come to the state to find it peaceful and have no reason to work against the government of the state, they get transferred. “We have had 6 Directors of DSS in 3 years, we are having the 10th Commissioner of Police is 3 years because when these people come, they meet a very peaceful Governor and don’t find the stories they heard to act as expected by the opposition and they get changed”, he said.
Lest we forget, the IG himself has witnessed and even attested to the peace and security in Akwa Ibom. It can be recalled that the IG was the host at the South South Security Summit held in Uyo, the state capital, on 3rd October, 2017. As a security expert, one of the key factors that influenced the IG’s decision to host the event in the state was the assurance that Akwa Ibom was the safest place in the region to host such a high-profile summit. Therefore, the IG’s recent actions amount to self-contradiction. In fact, the only real threat to peace and security in Akwa Ibom is the obvious unholy alliance between the Ibrahim Idris led Police Force and the APC. Mr. Idris has practically turned Akwa Ibom to his playground, doing as he pleases without regards to the government and people of the state. The continuous selective intervention by the Police is beginning to cause panic among citizens of the state as well as emboldens the APC’s brag of “federal might”.
Thankfully, Nigerians are well aware of plans by the APC led federal government to cause artificial crisis in Akwa Ibom in order to declare a state of emergency in the state ahead of 2019. The use of the Police and other government institutions to further this devilish plan is most unfortunate. The Nigerian Senate, national secretariat of the PDP, civil right societies and prominent Nigerians have risen to strongly condemn the recent actions of the Police in the state. It is a clear message that whatever antics the IG or any other person(s) for that matter, has in his playbook against the state will be strongly resisted. On no circumstance will the peace and security currently enjoyed in Akwa Ibom state be jeopardized.
Edidiong Udobia is a journalist and writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.