Apparently disturbed by flood of petitions alleging widespread looting by traditional rulers of the palliatives aimed at cushioning the effects of the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government, the Akwa Ibom State government has read riot act, threatening to withdraw certificates of recognition, as well as sack any village head found culpable in syphoning the relief materials.
Governor Umo Eno, who flagged off the distribution of the rice across the 2,272 villages spread across the 31 local government areas, on September 6, at the Government warehouse in his Ikot Ekpene Udo community in Nsit Ubium local government area, declared that the commodity was targeted at the very poor and vulnerable, praying God to visit the same condition faced by the down – trodden on the looters.
He announced that each village is entitled to 40 bags of rice for onward distribution to the local residents by the village council with the supervision of their respective village heads.
But LEADERSHIP gathered that allegations of criminal diversion of the commodity allegedly by traditional rulers in several communities have been rife, especially in Etinan, Mkpat Enin, Abak, Uyo, Ibesikpo Asutan and others LGAs contiguous to the Uyo metropolis.
Towards instilling sanity and discipline in the disbursement regime, the state government has warned traditional rulers including the village head of Ikot Nseyen, alleged to have been involved in the looting – spree, to address the matter by returning the alleged missing 10 bags of rice meant for his subjects.
“Only 30 bags of rice were brought to my community, Ikot Nseyen, in Etinan LGA. That’s why we protested that we can only allow the palliative to be shared when we see the complete 40 bags,” a local resident, who would not want his name in print, lamented.
However, speaking in an interview yesterday, the commissioner for information and strategy, Comrade Iniobong Ememobong, warned that traditional rulers found culpable risk being dethroned and their certificates withdrawn.
He said, “The village heads know that their certificate of recognition is at stake. Any village where we record that a village head on his own or in connivance with people, had allowed the palliatives not to get to the poorest of the poor, would have themselves to blame.”