Unidentified gunmen, suspected to be cult members, have intercepted Udianga Enem Community in the Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State on Saturday and opened fire on a group of mourners, resulting in the death of one Udeme Dickson, alias Ele.
Southern City News was gathered that seven other individuals fled the scene of the attack with gunshot injuries.
Some residents disclosed to PUNCH that anxiety pervades many communities in the area due to the recent continued attacks by rival cult groups, especially as the November 17, 2017 local government election in the state draws nearer.
The Saturday attack and the second in three weeks, was led by a notorious militant leader of the Iceland Cult group, Akaninyene Jumbo, alias Iso Akpafid, from Ikot Ibekwe Village in the neighbouring Ukanafun Local Government Area, PUNCH reported.
One of the eyewitnesses, who did not want to be identified, recounted how the attack happened.
The eyewitness said, “We were just standing here to plan the funeral of our in-law from Nto Unang Village after we returned from a vigil. Suddenly, we saw five motorbikes with armed men. Before we could escape, they had opened fire on us. Some of us were lucky to escape unhurt, but our friend, Udeme Dickson, was shot in the head and chest, while others fled with bullet wounds.
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“The entire wall of the Udo Unwa Okpo compound, where we stood to discuss our movement back to Nto Unang Village for the funeral, was completely shattered by the bullets fired randomly by the cultists.”
The injured victims of the Udianga Enem cult attack were said to be receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital in Uyo, where doctors are battling to extract bullets from their body.
Three weeks ago, the Head of Udianga Enem community, Chief Mendie Udoekoriko, had expressed worry about nonstop cult attacks in the area, after the same group of cultists attacked the village, killing four persons, including a pastor, Mr. Uwem Ananki.
“Currently, the entire village is completely deserted, giving the hoodlums enough room to break into people’s homes to steal agriculture produce, livestock, clothes, cash and household properties,” the monarch said.
He enjoined to the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, assist the community, saying that they were all residing on exile in places like Iwukem, Utu Etim Ekpo, Ika, Abak, Uyo, and Ikot Ekpene.
Residents also told Southern City News that rural residents had to leave the affected communities in large numbers, as the council chairman, Mr. Udeme Eduo, who hails from the area, relocated his aged parents to Uyo.
Confirming the incident, the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Etim Ekpo, who simply identified himself as Mr. Chris, said politicians had been frustrating police efforts to arrest the situation.
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“It is a very pathetic situation because the entire area is deserted. When the incident happened, we went there with over 10 police patrol teams, but sadly, we could only see few old men and women who were barely able to walk.
“The local government chairman has not been cooperating with the police and no one is ready to volunteer information. They know these cultists, but they are not willing to provide information on where they could be located.
“Our work is being hampered by lack of political will to enforce serious clampdown on the suspects. We are not the only one with the knowledge of what is going on in Etim Ekpo. The police high command, including the Inspector-General Police and the state police headquarters are aware,” he said.
Also, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Chukwu Ikechukwu, disclosed that it would not be easy difficult for the effort by the police to yield any result “when the people are not reporting the matter and collaborating with security agencies to apprehend the criminals.”
He advised the community and political leaders to collaborate security agencies in order to guarantee safer environment for socio-economic activities as well as for government policies and programmes to thrive.
“The police, no matter how sophisticated, cannot work alone to achieve the desired results of guaranteeing a peaceful and crime-free society. So, the people must work with the police,” he said.
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