Joe Effiong, Uyo
The hitherto quiet Ikot Obio Inyang village, a suburb community in the outskirts of Uyo but politically, in Etinan local government area of Akwa Ibom State, appears to have murdered sleep as its leaders and inhabitants now sleep with eyes open following stealing of their Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) donated solar water equipment.
The contract of the water project is said to have been valued about N38 million.
Ironically, the monarch of the community, who should be in the vanguard of those seeking the recovery of the stolen water equipment, has however been accused by his subject of being the mastermind of the vandalism.
The village head, Chief Emem Akpan appears to be used to be being accused of being involved in criminal activities, as he has even openly confessed to the press to have been accused, arrested, detained and charged on a kidnap case, though declaring such charges to be false.
The water project in question, awarded to Somerset Int’l Services Ltd on 11th February 2011, in a letter singed by Kilfungo Moljengo (Esq) with reg no: NDDC /HPU/2/AKS/PR/012, on behalf of NDDC was intended to serve the community which has no natural source of water supply.
Reporting the vandalism to the NDDC, Ikot Obio Inyang Development Association (IKODA) in a letter dated September 9, 2019 and signed by its National President, Enefiok B. Umoh and Secretary Uduak Edet Udoh, said that two items; the Solar Pump and the Solar Panel were vandalized.
“It was the NDDC, Uyo office that awarded the contract to a competent
contractor. He completed the work and handed it to the village council to take good care of the project. Ikot Obio Inyang is one of the villages without good drinking water. This water project supplied water to Ikot Obio Inyang community as well as Ikot Obio Inyang Health Health Centre.
“In the light of the above, we request the Director to please direct his Engineers to come to Ikot Obio Inyang, Inspect the extent of damage done to the project and carry out investigations to find out the perpetrators”. The letter reads.
Umoh who also spoke with our correspondent on phone said the association decided to take up the matter as those who took the initiative to approach NDDC for the water source.
“As an association which applied for the water since we have no natural water source in the community, we decided to report the matter to NDDC and the state police command, which thereafter prompted the Etinan Divisional police office to investigate the matter.
He therefore appealed to the police to insist on recovering the solar panels from the village authority.
Another member of the community who would not want his name in print added; “The police during the investigation discovered that the village head and the council were aware of the vandalism, and that the small boy who climed the tank stand to bring down the solar panels did so on the instruction of the village head.
The Village head, Chief Emem Akpan admitted that the solar powered water donated to the village by NDDC was vandalized and that he, the village head was accused and interrogated by the police for allegedly being responsible for the vandalism.
“After they vandalized the solar panel, the village council had to put its head together and so we came up with a manual pump. Since 2017, we have been getting water through the manual pump.
The village head who disclosed that he had also been linked with a case of kidnapping, admitted to have had too many police and court cases than what a normal village head should have and therefore
accused the state government of not acting in his defence whenever his people had cause to link him up with crimes.
“I was given a certificate of recognition as village head in 2013. I have faced so many things ever since. My people lebelled me a kidnapper, i had been on that case since 2016 to 2019 that the case was finally dismissed. The government never helped me in these travails”. He said.
Akpan however said he suspected that the solar panels and the solar pump were vandalized by the contractors who handled the job, since they, according to him, knew how they installed the facilities
His words; “Even the second one we did, I strongly warned the contractor to ensure that the pump was safely secured, he assured me, but after a while, it was again vandalized. So i suspect them”.
A villager who interacted with the press said the villagers decided to petition the village head to the police on the matter as they very strongly suspected the village head to have known the whereabouts of
the solar panels.
While alleging the village councilors were being guarded by the local cultists known as Ekpat, the woman lamented the ordeals of members of the community since the panels were vandalised adding that even the community Health Centre was severely feeling the effect of the vandalism.
“We are not living in fear in this village because the leadership has turned into a terror. If you make any noise, they will send the cult boys after you. Their intention is to scare away the people from the
village so that they can do whatever they like. This is the worst we have ever had in Ikot Obio Inyang, in everything. Most of those leading the village are morally incompetent and bankrupt.”
She alleged that the village council was equally culpable on issues surrounding electricity, alleging that though members of community were constantly compelled to pay PHED bill, the community was still
heavily indebted to PHED, since such monies were not remitted to the appropriate authorities.
The Chairman of Etinan LGA, Mr Cletus Ekpo, expressed his disappointment over the vandalism and vowed to ensure that the certificate of recognition is revoked from any village head confirmed
to have condoned or promoted such activities in the area.