The Akwa Ibom state Government yesterday faulted the directive from the Police Headquarters in Abuja, inviting the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Iniobong Essien as well as Uyo local government chairman, Mr. Imoh Okon, over an alleged involvement in the destruction of a campaign billboard of the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Nsima Ekere.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, while addressing some journalists at the command’s headquarters in Ikot Akpanabia where the two state officials were being drilled, said such invitation and move were a ploy by the APC to use federal might to suppress the state government.
According to him, “Obviously, it shows that the opposition wants to use the federal might to weaken the state.
“You recall that since the threats of violence by the opposition went viral about three months ago, a lot of incidence have been happening and a right-thinking Akwa Ibom person should ask some questions.”
He maintained that the approach to politicking by the APC and supported by the federal government is a deliberate plan to stir violence and insecurity in the state and scare off investors that the administration has succeeded in attracting.
Giving a background into the situation which led to Essien’s arrest and further detention, Udoh said, “We all woke up one day and found out that an official of the state, the Commissioner for Environment has been invited for a discussion with the police on instruction from Abuja, over a dispute on a billboard location.
“The billboard is located in a densely populated area. The approval before locating the billboard was not followed to the latter because it was not located where it should have been located. Secondly, structural standard was compromised, so the Commissioner for Environment whose duty is to supervise issues relating to environment in Akwa Ibom State took necessary steps to ensure that the properties around the vicinity were secured, especially as the design and structural integrity of the billboard were compromised.
“So on that account, he was invited by the police and that was two days ago, government stepped in, and it required the SSG to sign an undertaking to bail him. Today, the instruction was given that he and the Chairman of Uyo Local Government council, Mr Imoh Okon should be brought to Abuja for further questioning, and the question I ask is; these are officers of government, appointed and elected, carrying out their legitimate duties and here they are intimidated by the officers of the law.
“Government is therefore worried because we were all witnesses to the famous Warsaw war statement, recall that Akwa Ibom in the last three years has been one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria, that is why investors are coming in. The threat is clearly a script being perpetrated, being rehearsed and being played out, but it is worrisome because this invitation of violence and insecurity may throw our young men back on the streets if it succeeds in scaring off investors”.
The Information Commissioner called on Akwa Ibom people and Nigerians in general to rise against any attempt to use intimidation and federal might as political weapons against opponents or members of other political parties.
Those present at the police headquarters were the Secretary to State government, Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem, and other top government functionaries while the two government officials were being drilled as part of preparations for their movement to Abuja.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the contractor for the billboard of the APC governorship candidate in the state petitioned the IGP over an alleged directive by the Commissioner of Environment to destroy his client’s billboard located at a strategic place in Akpanamdem market Uyo.
Our source disclosed, on ground of anonymity, that Gov. Udom Emmanuel’s billboard was allegedly erected after the destruction of that of Ekere, the APC guber candidate.