Senator Akpabio goofed on kidnapping

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Recently the media reported former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, as stating that kidnapping for ransom started in Nigeria from Abia State under the watch of Governor T A Orji who is also now a senator, like Akpabio.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

It is important to place on record that Ochendo and Akpabio became governors of Abia and Akwa Ibom states, respectively on May 29 2007. The first kidnap for ransom in Abia state was recorded in late 2008 whereas kidnap for ransom was first recorded in Akwa Ibom state in 2006.

Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) was formed in 2004 and the group's operatives actually executed the first reported kidnap of foreigners in January 2006 for ransom. In the course of their activities, over 200 foreigners were kidnapped alongside Nigerians mostly working with oil companies.

It is instructive to note that in Akpabio's Akwa Ibom State a militant group abducted four Scots, a Malaysian, an Indonesian and a Romanian from a bar in Akwa Ibom state on the 3rd of October 2006. 

Also on the 19th of December 2008 under the watch of Godswill Akpabio, 2 Russians, MD RUSAL Nigeria Sergey Zamotaylov and accountant Konstantin Aksenov were kidnapped out of a Guarded Camp in Ikot Abasi. The hostages were taken by boats and kept at a location in Port Harcourt, at one of the hundreds islands of Niger Delta. $7 000 000 ransom were demanded.

For most of 2006/2007, Rivers State was under siege from all manner of gangsters, who feuded, maimed and kidnapped for ransom in the then Port Harcourt killing fields. Like a creeping cancer; entrepreneurial kidnapping spread to neighboring states like Imo, Anambra, Abia, and Enugu where Igwe Uche Nwachime, a Royal Father in Nkanu West local government was abducted and murdered in cold blood. 

At the time Akpabio's Akwa Ibom state recorded it's first MEND executed kidnap for ransom Abia State was yet to witness any case of kidnapping for ransom. Indeed it was not until criminal elements of Abia origin who were part of MEND returned to the state after failing to make the Federal Government's amnesty program that the state experienced rife kidnap for ransom cases in 2009.. The man who led the gang, Osisikankwu, was said to have been previously fighting alongside MEND in the creeks of Bayelsa. When he was disqualified from the amnesty program on the basis that his state, Abia, was not included in the list of states where the militants operate he returned home with the hitherto alien practice of kidnapping for ransom from the Niger Delta. 

Akpabio's Akwa Ibom is part of the Niger Delta and militants from his state, including kidnappers, benefited from the amnesty program. It is instructive to note that while no single incident of kidnapping was recorded in Umuahia Ibeku area where then Governor Orji hail from, Governor Akpabio's kinsmen actually accused him of having a hand in the kidnap for ransom incidents that ravaged his Essien Udim LGA area and other parts of Akwa Ibom State.

In 2010, a three man gang of suspected kidnappers were reportedly arrested by security operatives on August 16thwhile ambushing to kidnap a businessman at Ikpe Mbiabet, Essien Udim LGA of Akwa Ibom State.

The Commissioner of police said two set of kidnappers were arrested at Umon Okon village in Essien Udim LGA onAugust 15th, while another two man gang suspect were nabbed in Ika LGA August 14th while on a plot to kidnap a contractor in the area. The then Akwa Ibom State Police boss further disclosed that another three suspected kidnappers, including a lady, entered the police net August 6th just as three men suspected to be ritualists were arrested September 5th.

The arrests followed months of finger pointing at Akpabio by his political opponents as being complicit in the rising wave of abductions for ransom in the state. The allegations were so strong that Akpabio had to rally his supporters and aides to rush to the media to defend him. Speaking with The Guardian, a criminologist and lecturer at the University of Uyo, Dr. Aniekan Brown, said it was impossible for the government to organise crime against its own people. He said that the will to nip the crime is the collective responsibility of the people of the state including the government, which must ensure that it brings the instrument of justice to bear on perpetrators of the crimes. 

"The point is that there is need to get the suspects and process them through the law; then we can establish whether it is political or not. For me, to say it is politically motivated would be speculative and would be unbecoming of me as an academician".

Stated Brown "as a criminologist, my position is always that crime is usually caused by the social structure, and so from that point of view, I want to argue that it is collective, we are responsible for this major crime in this state"

Apparently Senator Akpabio is incapable of making similar argument at the national level but chose to distort facts by falsely attacking Senator Orji and Abians to score cheap political points. 

May be Akpabio does not understand his current role as Senate Miniority leader well enough to know that Abia is part of his area of influence and political base. He represents PDP at the senate as leader and Abia is currently a PDP state. Just like Akwa Ibom. If Akpabio cannot represent his party-men's interest well then Abia Senators should rally others and remove him as senate minority leader. 

There is absolutely no known valid explanation for Akpabio's smear campaign against Abia at the floor of the senate. He should apologize to Abians and correct himself before people start quoting his obtuse narrative as fact. 




Posted on May, 9 2016

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