- Written by Ikpafak Thompson Essien
Tens of innocent people have been assassinated under the leadership watch of Godswill Akpabio. Several others have been kidnapped and locked into automobile booths like goats, while some have been arrested, detained, and prosecuted with trumped-up charges – all these heinous atrocities happened, and are still happening, so that
Godswill Obot Akpabio can remain in office as a governor of a tiny state in Nigeria known as Akwa Ibom.
Corrupt, Illegal, and Murderous Governor Godswill Akpabio
Hundreds of complaints and petitions have been written and submitted to the President of Nigeria, yet no positive response from the office of the presidency has been forthcoming. As far as President Jonathan is concerned, whatever happens in Akwa Ibom State is of little or no concern to him; it is politics as usual. Meanwhile, the families of victims of these crimes are wailing in silence and gnashing their teeth in suffering. For this reason, IPU decided to address the issue by taking the matter to the Congress of United States—the last bastion of a true democracy.
We are ready to expose all the evils of Akwa Ibom State under the leadership of Godswill Akpabio to the outside world. Perhaps by doing so, future leaders will think twice before they indulge in the same style of governance with which Akpabio has taken pride pride, but which has caused the lives of hundreds of Akwa Ibom people.
Below Report is self-explanatory.
Prepared Statement Of Thompson Essien, President and Representative of Ibibio People’s Union, Inc
Before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights On “U.S Policy Toward Nigeria: West Africa’s Troubled Titan”, Tuesday July 10, 2012, 2.00pm, Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2172; Washington, D.C.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Bass, Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:
I would like to thank you for holding these hearings on U.S Policy toward Nigeria, a significant nation in the West African sub-region. These hearings are weighty and timely because Nigeria remains an important trade and security partner with the United States. The country’s production of crude oil is estimated at 2.458 million barrels per day, representing the tenth largest output in the world. In year 2011, Nigeria was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to the United States. In the same year the Office of the US Trade Representative reported that US businesses exported $38.6 billion in goods to Nigeria, representing the 23rd largest trading partner with the United States, ahead of many other strategic US partners. To put it in perspective, this amount is equivalent to the total GDP of the State of Wyoming in 2010, or the entire budget of the State of Kentucky in 2012.
It is for these reasons that both the US and Nigerian citizens are concerned with the perennial state of insecurity and miss-governance in that country. As a representative of Ibibio People’s Union, Inc, I am honored to represent Ibibio People’s Union Inc and other concerned Nigerians in presenting to the Sub-committee our findings on the Nigerian situation documented over the past few years. Ibibio People’s Union, Inc represents a community of Nigerian-Americans whose ancestry is traceable to Ibibio ethnic group of the South Eastern region of Nigeria, specifically in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. The entity acts only as an observer and commentator on issues affecting Nigeria. It does not support political parties or ideologies, but performs acts of charity in support of its members.
The Context of Nigeria’s Troubled Condition
Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria is a critical part of the well-known, oil rich Niger-Delta region, the source of more than ninety percent of Nigeria’s wealth of crude oil. It has an estimated population of 4.8 million people (less than metropolitan District of Columbia) and 2,734 square miles, approximately the size of the State of Delaware. Unfortunately, this region is also homeland to numerous minority ethnic groupings whose minority status precludes them from decisions regarding the use and distribution of resources derived from their homeland. Successive autocratic, repressive and corrupt regimes have since independence denied the minorities of the Niger-Delta even a fair share of the proceeds of crude oil sales, to the degree that the region remains the most impoverished of all oil-producing communities in the world. This information is important to the Sub-committee because it provides a background to the resulting state of insecurity in the Niger-Delta, whereupon the US State Department has issued a standing travel advisory, cautioning Americans against travel to the Niger-Delta and Nigeria in general.
In protest to the massive exploitation, militants comprised largely of unemployed youths and often sponsored by political interests, initially took to sabotage of oil infrastructure, kidnappings, torture and murder of oil workers. Apart from indigenes, also affected are Americans and other expatriate workers who are victims of a spate of kidnappings and murders even unto this day.
In recent years, this state of instability has significantly increased in Akwa Ibom State, one of the largest depositories of crude oil in Nigeria. With the re-institution of democracy in 1999, there were high expectations that Nigerians for the first time in a generation would determine their government in free and fair elections. Instead, corrupt politicians have utilized militants to persecute, kidnap, torture and murder political enemies. Indeed, since 2007 when the current governor of Akwa Ibom State was sworn into office in a highly controversial electoral declaration, incidents of murder and kidnapping for ransom have multiplied several folds. Most victims are political opponents of the governor Mr. Godswill Akpabio, who is documented to have declared openly and acted on his promise to persecute and eliminate his opponents. Today, freedom of speech in Akwa Ibom State is non-existent and the population lives in fear of a governor “elected” to serve them but who has metamorphosed into a dreadful persecutor, intimidator and a killing apparatus at his option. Ibibio People’s Union Inc and other international monitoring groups have documented most of these atrocities, which additionally, are widely reported by local and international media and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch. To date, hundreds of innocent people have been kidnapped, women raped, opponents tortured and murdered by the governor’s private militia, ironically supported by the resources of the people.
To demonstrate the tenacity of Mr. Akpabio in seeking out those who oppose his tyranny, he has recently attempted to persecute Nigerian-Americans residing in the US who decry his reported involvement in killings in Akwa Ibom State. He has sought frivolous injunctions in American judicial system to curtail the freedom of speech of his perceived enemies who vocalize his misdeeds at Internet forums. Given these atrocious murders, the fact of the governor’s kleptocracy with the states’ resources appears a more merciful behavior. Unfortunately, the Federal Government of Nigeria has not acted to intervene in this dire situation despite numerous pleas of victims. The Federal Government’s non-reaction underscores the fact that the Niger-Delta as a minority region is viewed as important only to the degree in which its natural resources can be exploited. Given the federal government’s actions or lack thereof, it may be surmised that ensuring the security of its citizens is largely immaterial to the administration.
The Quiet Genocide: Documented Atrocities in Akwa Ibom State
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, the following incidents are by no means exhaustive of atrocities committed against the people of Akwa Ibom State and in particular the Ibibio tribe by the current governor and his cohorts since 2007. Indeed they represent only a small fraction of occurrences. Many incidents are not reported due to fear of further persecution of surviving family members, and the sheer horror of the events themselves. These however may serve to create a sufficiently detailed picture to enable the Subcommittee formulate policy to prevent these atrocities and build a partnership for the mutual benefit of both countries.
1. Barely one month after assumption of office in 2007, governor Akpabio ordered the arrest and incarceration of a newspaper vendor Mr. Essien Ewoh for distributing a newspaper publication, Fresh Facts, that criticized the governor. Mr. Ewoh was only doing his legitimate job to earn a living.
2. The series of attacks on freedom of the press, arrests and charges of sedition were documented by the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in several of its publications titled “Newspaper Copies Seized in Southern Akwa Ibom State”, October 17, 2007; “Nigerian Publisher Charged With Sedition Over Story Critical of Governor”; and on January 25, 2008, “Nigerian Newspaper Distributor Arrested, Charged”.
3. The publisher of Fresh Facts newspaper, Mr. Sam Asowata was arrested in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, tossed into the trunk of a vehicle, and driven all night to Akwa Ibom State – a distance of about 500 miles. Mr. Asowata’s young daughter, who happened to have been in her father’s office at the time of the arrest, was also arrested, presumably on the orders of Gov. Akpabio.
4. Upon assumption of office the governor reportedly created a secret militia group called Akwa Ibom People Forum (AKPF) that kidnapped, terrorized and killed perceived political opponents of the governor. The group supposedly disbanded after protestations and loud outcries of citizens.
5. One Chief Ononokpono a sick and frail octogenarian, had in The Nation newspaper courageously asked Gov. Akpabio some cogent questions about his administration and financial accountability. Rather than respond to those questions, Gov. Akpabio ordered the arrest of Chief Ononokpono who was denied bail and “remanded in dehumanizing prison custody from March, 25, 2010 to May, 14, 2010.” Chief Ononokpono’s health condition worsened and on December 7, 2010, he died.
6. Leading up to his re-election campaign of 2011, the governor openly banned his opponents from campaigning in his own hometown. When one of his opponents, Senator Akpan-Udoedeghe, defied his order and campaigned at the governor’s hometown, the Senator’s team was attacked by the governor’s supporters branding machetes and AK47s, leading to hundreds of deaths and wounded innocent people, and destruction of property totaling millions of dollars in value. The Senator barely escaped with his life. This particular incident was widely reported both by Nigerian and international media. To date, no persons have been apprehended and punished.
7. A Nigerian national publication, TELL Magazine No. 45 of 15th November 2010, entitled a front-page feature article “Reign of Terror in Akwa Ibom State”. It described a case in August 2010: The State Vs Dr. Chris Ekong; who was framed-up, arrested, detained and eventually charged to court on phantom murder charges. It quoted Andem E. Ndem, attorney for Dr. Ekong saying, “When the matter (case) came up in court, the Attorney General (AG) did not even want the charge read to the accused Dagogo Minayo, alias Puff Daddy who admitted killing the Ekpenyong brothers in the open court. AG quickly informed the court that he had entered a nolle prosequi (stop prosecution order) in the said charge. Consequently he applied that the charge be struck out”. The publication detailed numerous other cases of atrocities and killings, and directly linked the governor to many of them.
8. On July 16, 2011, one Abasiema Sunday Peters, a 23-year old man was shot on both legs by the security detail of Gov. Akpabio’s wife. Rather than administer medical treatment, the man was handcuffed and taken to the police station for detention. His only crime was that he did not move off the road fast enough for the governor’s wife motorcade as it drove by.
9. On December 21, 2010, one Miss Faith Udo, a 26-year old student was brutally murdered by one Yusuf Salihu believed to be a member of Governor Akpabio’s killer squad. As in previous cases, immediately after Salihu was arrested, he was summarily released and then freed without criminal investigation or prosecution.
10. Numerous publications, local and international, continue to document the sad events in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria in general.
Partial Listing of Murder and Kidnap Victims in Akwa Ibom State Since 2007
The following is a partial listing of victims of terror since Mr. Akpabio assumed office in 2007 as the current governor of Akwa Ibom State:
1) Abel Daminas children (2) 2008
2) Mr. Ubong Obot (1) 2008 (Ibibio)
3) Mr.Mustag Obot (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
4) Senator Aloysius’ wife (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
5) Chief Nelson Effiong (1) Feb 2009 (Okobo)
6) Ita Enyong- Entaco (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
7) Apostle Uwa (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
8) Nse Ntuen (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
9) Aniefon Aniedi Abasi (1) feb. 2009 (Annang)
10) Mrs. Iniobong Ekpenyong (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
11) Pa. Kevin Edet (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
12) Mrs. Michael Bush (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
13) HOP, Nsit Ubium (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
14) Opulopm Ettes’ Wife (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
15) Russians (2) 2009 (Expatriates)
16) Russian Employees (6) June 3, 2007
17) Stemco Staff (6) 2008 (Expatiates)
18) Uwemedimo Archibong (1) feb.2009 (Ibibio)
19) Mrs. Adrina Uko (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
20) Mrs. Anne Enoidem (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
21) Dr. Owen R. Owen (1) June 2009
22) Mrs. Jumbo (1) June 2009 (Ibibio)
23) Pastor Akan Weeks (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
24) Awak Treasurer, o/Akara (1) 2008 (Ibibio)
25) Mr. Ikpe Ukpe (1) 2008 (Ibibio)
26) Mr. Clement Uwemedimo (1) July, 2009 (Ibibio)
27) Mr. Fiokedu Okorie (1) July 2009
28) Miss Edikan Okon Ufot (1) July, 2009 (Ibibio)
29) Daughter of Okon Usoro (1) July, 2009 (Ibibio)
30) Expatraites’Wife(abducted to Nturukpum) (1) Mar. 2009
31) Mr. Eseme Essien (1) Sept. 2009 (Ibibio)
32) Eld. Nse Ikpe (1) Sept. 2009 (Ibibio)
33) Jackie Jay (1) Sept. 2009 (Annang)
34) Ediomo Udoko (1) Sept. 2009 (Ibibio)
35) Iniobong Sunny Jackson (1) Sept. 2009 (Ibibio)
36) Adiaha Eka Sunny IBANGA (1) Sept. 2009 (Ibibio)
37) Pst. Jonah Solomon Akpan (1) Oct. 2009 (Ibibio)
38) Mrs. Eshiet –Etinan (1) Nov. 2009 (Ibibio)
39) Mrs. Sunny Daniel (1) Nov. 2009 (Ibibio)
40) Bishop C.O Akpan (1)Dec. 2,2009\ (Ibibio)
41) Mr. Usen –manager, UBA (1) Dec. 2009 (Ibibio)
42) Hon. Hogan Ita (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
43) Mr. Michael Nkono (1) Oct. 2009 (Ibibio)
44) Mrs. Michael Nkono (1) Oct. 2009 (Ibibio)
45) Dr. Uwem Umoh (1) Nov. 2009 (Ibibio)
46) Chief Inyang Eno (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
47) Gen. Edet Akpan (1)Jan.31,2010 (Ibibio)
48) Hon. Mike Dan (Itu) (1) Jan.2010 (Ibibio)
49) Miss. Edikan Udo (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
50) Mr. Ita Onyong (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
51) Mr. John Akpan (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
52) Mr. Okon Mkpong (1)2010 (Ibibio)
53) Paramount Ruler –Okobo (1) 2010 (okobo)
54) Prof. Akaninyene Mendie (1) 2010
55) Chief Obosi- clan head InI LGA (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
56) Prophtess Mercey Inyang (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
57) Prophetess Mercey Effiong (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
58) Mrs. Elizabeth Philip (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
59) Mrs. Godwin Udoaka 1st Bank (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
60) Mrs. Godwin Bassey Eton (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
61) Prof. Imo Ukpong (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
62) Dr. Austin Edet (1) 2010 ( Ibibio)
63) Chief Emmanuel Ntukidem (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
64) Mr. Samuel Inyang-PDP Ini LGA (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
65) 83 yr. old retired civil servant, mbiabong ikpe Annang (1) 2010 (Annang)
66) Mrs. Rosey Jack Udota (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
67) Joel Francis- Governors’ driver (1) 2010
68) Anthony Akpanobong (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
69) Barr. Archibong’s wife (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
70) Stemco employees (4) May 5 2010
71) Rev. Ntia I Ntia (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
72) Deacon Sandy NtuenUbok (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
73) Rev. Ime Iyire (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
74) A female church member of Imeh Uyire (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
75) Mrs. Iwakeowo Bassey Essien (1) 2010 (Ibibio)
76) Obong Mike Ene (1) 2009 (Ibibio)
77) Mr. Essien Ewoh (1) 2008 (Ibibio)
78) Late Ntia’s Children (2) 2010 (Ibibio)
79) Dr. Uwah (1) July 2010 (Ibibio)
80) MRS. COMFORT EWANG—SEPT.2010 (IBIBIO)
81) MRS. LYDIA TOM BUSH –SEPT.2010
82) MR. EWANG’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT— OCT.2010
83) MR. EWANG’S DRIVER—OCT.2010
84) MR. MIKE EDUOK —SEPT.2010 (IBIBIO)
85) Imeh Ekpo (July 2010) (Ibibio)
86) Nsifre Andrew (August 2010)
87) Bishop (Pa) OKON ENYONG (IBIBIO)
88) REV. INNO IDIONG (ANNANG)-questionable-JAN.3, 2011 (may have been staged).
89) DR. MEMFIN EKPO (IBIBIO) – JAN.16, 2011
90) ELIZABETH JERRY EMAH (IBIBIO)
91) UDO MMA OBOT (IBIBIO)
92) CHAIRLADY OF ONNA LGA (IBIBIO)
93) PROPRIETOR OF EKET POLITHECHNIC
94) JOHN NTA (OWNER OF TREASURY ISLAND) FEB.11 2011 (Ibibio)
Partial List of Persons who Escaped Kidnapping:
1) Paramount Ruler Etinan, HRM Edidem Ime D. Umoette (Ibibio)
2) Madam Grace James Akpanudoedehe (Ibibio)
3) Mrs. Mfon Kenneth (wife of Etinan council Chairman). (Ibibio)
4) Engrs. Obinna and Bobby, staff of Vich Resources Nig. LTD. (Ibibio)
5) Proprietor, Life care clinic. (Ibibio)
6) Chief Donald Etiebet (Annang)
7) Engr. Iniekong Udonwa (Governorship Aspirant) (Ibibio)
Partial Listing of Murdered or Assassinated Victims (Contd.):
1) Barr. IMO UDONWA (IBIBIO)
2) MISS. ANIEFON ANIEDIABASI
3) ENGR. EMMANUEL EKPENYONG (Submarine) (IBIBIO)
4) MR. MATHAIS EKPENYONG (IBIBIO)
5) BARR. BENJAMIN UDOEKPO (Ibibio)
6) TWO WOMEN AT QUA IBOE CHURCH, IWOK (Ibibio)
7) DR. AUSTIN EDET (Ibibio)
8) DAUGHTER OF PARAMOUNT RULER ABAK (ANNANG)
9) Mrs. MARIE IKPE
10) EZEKIEL PETER EBERE (Episco) (Ibibio)
11) CHIEF PAUL INYANG (Ibibio)
12) MRS.PHILOMINA UDONWA (Ibibio)
13) ANTHONY AKPANOBONG (Ibibio)
14) MR. DANIEL JOHN EKANEM- (Ibibio)
15) Mr. Mathew Inyang – driver of Mrs. Tom bush (Ibibio)
16) Police orderly to Mrs. Lydia Bush
17) DR. AKPANUDO FEB.2, 2011 (IBIBIO)
18) Mbosowo Andrew ( Ibibio) kidnapped ,Ransom paid and murdered-nov.2010
19) PASTOR DAVID IDUNUOLUWA (pastor of living faith church ikot ebido
20) OKU IBOM III ,EDIDEM ROBERT JAMES OBOT JAN.30, 2011 (IBIBIO)
Partial List of Persons Incarcerated Without Trial by the State Government:
1) Hon. Fabian Ekpenyong (only surviving Ekpenyong brothers) incarcerated for refusing to testify falsely for the government. (Ibibio)
2) Dr. Chris Ekong, accused of killing the Ekpenyong brothers. (Record shows he was in South Africa when the murder took place) (Ibibio)
3) Mr. Davidson Uboh substituted for the real killers of Ekpenyong brothers who were released from jail on government orders. (Ibibio)
4) Mr. Otu Ekong substituted for the real killers of Ekpenyong brothers.
5) Mr. Itoro William substituted for the real killers of the Ekpenyong brothers
6) Chief Ononokpon incarcerated for demanding the governor’s accountability (Oron)
7) Dr. Chris Nyong charged with treason and later released on bail (Ibibio)
8) Amb.Sam Edem falsely accused of stealing and charming the governor- acquitted by a judge (Ibibio)
9) CHIEF IMEH UMANAH—OCT.2010 (Annang)
Mr. Chairman and Subcommittee members: We at Ibibio People’s Union Inc make this presentation even at great risk to our personal safety. Many of our members have already lost family members in this quest for justice, and many of us are no longer able to visit our families in Nigeria for real fear of arrest and persecution, and worse still, death. But we also understand the costs and difficulties of US Involvement in the affairs of other nations. Quite often it is in the best interest of partnering nations to ensure each other’s safety. Instability in Nigeria does not only create insecurity for its citizens, it also forms a cradle for global terrorism as evidenced by increasing bombing activities of the Al Qaida affiliated group Boko Haram. Insecurity and corruption hinders the development of that nation and limits beneficial relationships with other nations such as the United States. A flourishing and stable Nigeria, as has been recognized by successive US administrations, is in the best interest of both nations, especially given the global war on terrorism. We will continue to anticipate that US policy toward Nigeria will include important components that promote the security and prosperity of both nations.
Thank you for the opportunity to inform the Sub-committee on this important matter.
Mr. Thompson Essien