Recent developments in Akwa Ibom State have pointed to increasing intolerance for criticism of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel. Two well known critics of the administration have been abducted in Gestapo styles by agents of the State Government based on complaints by Governor Emmanuel.
On Monday, October 7, 2019, Barrister Leo Ekpenyong, a human rights activist and well known critic of the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel was abducted from his base in Abuja and taken to SARS cell in Abuja where he was detained overnight and flown to Uyo in the morning. The squad which abducted Barrister Ekpenyong was led by the Officer in charge of State anti-robbery squad, Akwa Ibom State.
The sin of Barrister Ekpenyong has been the expose of the monumental bribery scandal that rocked the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Uyo. In a widely publicized article titled: “Judgement for sale in Akwa Ibom State National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal” the Lawyer had disclosed how Justice W. O. Akanbi and Justice Ebetu were bribed with a whopping $1.5 million by Governor Udom Emmanuel to enter judgement against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio. The third Judge who Barrister Ekpenyong revealed was not part of the judgement-for-sale scandal, Justice Hafizu later gave a dissenting Judgment as Barrister Leo Ekpenyong had predicted.
The sinister plot against Barrister Ekpenyong which was scripted by the Akwa Ibom State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Uwemedimo Nwoko was to rush and arraign him before a pliable Magistrate in Uyo and had him remanded in prison custody. The evil plot was however thwarted following interventions from higher authorities in Abuja.
According to reports, another critic of Governor Udom Emmanuel, who until a few months ago was a domestic staff of the Governor, Mr Michael Itok was in a similar Gestapo manner abducted and whisked away by some unidentified armed men in a Toyota Hilux car number Akwa Ibom KPD 427 AA. Mr Itok has been vocal in criticizing the administration of Governor Emmanuel as a monumental failure. He had also exposed many assets at home and abroad that Mr Udom Emmanuel had acquired since becoming Governor.
Feelers also has it that another critic of the Governor, Zion Umoh had also been targeted for arrest before he returned to his base in Texas, USA. Mr Umoh has mounted a strong opposition to the choice of the Vice-President of ExxonMobil, Mr Udom Inoyo to succeed Governor Emmanuel in 2023. Social media accounts of opposition elements in Akwa Ibom State are also monitored from Government House, Uyo for targeted arrest of some critics.
Human rights organizations have condemned the growing culture of arrest of critics of Governor Emmanuel. Social and Political Rights Organization (SPRO) said the use state agents against critics of the Governor was condemnable. “Democracy thrives when there is opposition. Any government that uses state apparatus to harass citizens is autocratic and undemocratic,” the Organization said in a statement by its Soth-South Coordinator, Comrade Godspower Monye.
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