The Commissioner of Police (CP) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi at the weekend confirmed the death of one Police Sergeant in the ongoing offensive against militants in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun local government areas of the state.
He said the police action became necessary following the refusal of the hoodlums to heed the offer of amnesty extended to them by governor Udom Emmanuel, who promised to rehabilitate and re-integrate them into the society.
The operation, according to Ojunjemilusi, has led to the rescue of one Otobong Sylvester Ukpong, a staff of the Ukanafun area office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), along with eight others including seven women seized at Ikot Inyang Abia community in Ukanafun.
“We lost one Sergeant in the operation and recovered some riffles including police and military uniforms, charms and other materials”, he said and urged the people to assist the Police with information to dislodge the criminals.
Narrating his ordeal in the hands of his abductors, the INEC staff seized on June 5, blindfolded and taken by two gunmen on motorbikes into an untended bush in Ikot Akpan Ayara in Ukanafun local government said they were fed only once a day with garri and soup, beans and rice.
“There is no farming activity around the bush that we were kept and they (the criminals) erected a canopy in the bush and always cooked the meal there and served us. Throughout my stay there for about two months, I was not allowed to talk to anyone and that is why I find it difficult to talk because my throat is not clear.
“They only removed the veils from our eyes in the night where you cannot understand the geography of the area. I have not taken my bath, nor shaved or trim my hair since I was taken and this is the only cloth that I put since I was captured,he recounted his ordeal..
“Each time the kidnappers left for operation, they would ensure two heavily armed men were left to guard the den, but on the day, Saturday, August 18, 2018, when the JFT stormed the place, the one that guarded the camp got the signal and went to see what was coming.“Before he could rearrange himself, the Soldier fired first at him (the militants went flat on the ground, consulted his charms and amulet and disappeared before the JTF came to rescue us”, he said.
Chairman of Ukanafun Local Government, Mr. Nnamso Idiong and his Etim Ekpo counterpart, Mr. Udeme Eduo, who were on hand to identify the freed captives, commended the gallantry of the JTF operatives in their efforts to restore peace to their troubled councils.
Idiong, said the seven rescued women were all seized from his village of Ikot Inyang Abia, by the gang leader simply identified by his operational name, ‘Englishman’.
He explained that “the wife of ‘Englishman’ was arrested by the Police because of the activities of her elusive husband, but Englishman had to call me on phone and accused me of ordering the Police to arrest his wife, who is still being detained here in this Police headquarters.
“Because of the arrest of his wife, which I knew nothing about, Englishman said he was going to kidnap 25 women from my community and would only free them when the wife has been released by the Police.
“And to make good his threat, he came into the village and captured these seven women and told me these set of women are the first installment”, he said.
He lamented that he had since established contact with some of their leaders with a view to brokering peace in line with State government to no avail. “Even one of them called me that they would be ready for the peace meeting but when we were all ready for them, they refused to turn up”, he said.
The militants, according to him, were among those chased out of River State by the onslaught against hoodlums launched by governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike.
“They (the militants) are angry because the government of Rivers State has been able to grant amnesty and settled the ‘boys’ in that State, while Akwa Ibom State government would not want to do same and include them in the amnesty programme”, he explained.