Facts have emerged that insinuation that the gun battle that rocked Afaha Ikot Ebak, headquarters of Essien Udim Local Government Area, on Wednesday, 20th May 2020, was assassination attempt on an Akwa Ibom council boss, Elder Raphael Isobara, ahead of the forthcoming local government election in the state was false.
This was the position of some concerned youths the area who insisted that the allegation was a lie and calculated attempt by Elder Isobara to attract sympathy and get a second term consideration from Governor Udom Emmanuel in the run-up to the poll.
“This thing is preposterous and is so laughable,” said Uduak Akpan Udo, an executive of the Afaha Youths Association who was an eyewitness.
“What do we, Essien Udim people, have to do with Raphael Isobara? Isobara has been so unpopular such that there is no single project attributed to him throughout his tenure.
“The only thing called project you can say Isobara has achieved in the past three years of his stay as chairman was the planting of about 200 stands of coconut seedlings he said was to complement Governor Emmanuel’s coconut plantation project for industrialization, and the shabby building of a gate house for the Essien Udim council secretariat. These politicians are so desperate that they can go to any level to make false allegations.”
Udo narrated that the Afaha Ikot Ebak incident was owing to the fact that an already apprehended criminal suspect named Uduak Friday Marcus, also known as Stone, was escorted to the area following police investigation, noting that the latest allegations was politically motivated by Isobara to attract sympathy in a dubious manner so as to get a second term.
“Stone, from Ikot Umoh Essien- Odoro Ikot, had been apprehended by the police. And in the course of investigation, he was escorted to Afaha Ikot Ebak where he called out three other members of his criminal gangs to meet with him at a location close to the council secretariat for an undisclosed job he wanted them to execute.
“Out of the three men that responded to Stone’s call, two were arrested while one escaped after a gun duel with the police. Firearms were recovered from the arrested culprits. Elder Isobara was not the target. He was among local government chairmen who were at Ibeno on a condolence visit to the family of late Hon. Ifum Udoh, the former council chairman who passed on recently,” the he added.
Further information gathered by our reporter revealed that the gang members led by Stone had been terrorizing Essien Udim for a long time as a result of Isobara’s inability to hand him over to the police for prosecution.
A supervisor at the council was said to have earlier written a petition to the police where Stone was accused of armed robbery and kidnapping activities in the area.
This supervisor’s identity, it was also gathered, would be revealed to Stone by Isobara, a development which has now exposed the supervisor’s life to danger.
According to investigations, Stone and his group were linked to the kidnapping of one Mr Udeme who owned a supermarket in Urua Akpan area.
A youth leader who would not want to be named in print told our reporter that Stone’s notorious and criminal activities are well-known in the area.
“The said Stone also kidnapped a famous businessman, the CEO of Thompson Brothers and got a ransom of N1 million. His third victim was Mr. Linus, a businessman from Okon Ward in Essien Udim. He also got a ransom of N1 million too. Members of Stone’s group were responsible for the incessant robbery attacks along Ikot Ekpene-Aba Road in the past. He is also the head of a local security group recently set up for Isobara’s campaign for his second term election.
“I can confirm that there was wild jubilation in Essien Udim, residents and motorists were happy after reports came that Stone and his group members have been arrested. Stone has been in the political employ and moreso on the payroll of Elder Raphael Isobara since the administration of the later began about three years ago.
“It, therefore, does beat the imagination of all right reasoning residents and stakeholders in Essien Udim that the same Chairman of the Local Government would employ the aid of some bloggers and local tabloids to write that there was an assassination attempt on his life.
“This is nothing more than a mere appeal to pity, an attempt to regain the favor and empathy of Essien Udim people who have since rejected the incumbent administration of Elder Raphael Isobara. This strategy to buy his way back into the hearts of Essien Udim people is as obvious as it is despicable,” he said.
He challenged Elder Isobara to come out in the open to deny knowledge of Stone and his activities in the area.
When contacted, a security source in Essien Udim who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the arrest of some persons during the Afaha Ikot Ebak incident.
“I know about the incident that happened on the 20th at Afaha Ikot Ebak. They (police) apprehended them as part of the operation”, he said.
When a group of journalists approached Elder Isobara on the issue, he said the matter has taken over by the police and as such it would not be appropriate for him to comment on it any more.