By Nsa Gill, Calabar
A traditional leader and the Clan Head of Ikot Offiong Ambi clan in Akpabuyo Local Government area of Cross River State, Etinyin Effiom Eyo Okon, has denied having any business with kidnapping.
The 90 years old chief also declared as false the allegation and the media reports that he, his wife and son were arrested on April 25, 2021 by a special security task force of the state government code named “Operation Akpakwu” for kidnapping.
“On that same day, the Operation Akpakwu team stormed my Ekpene Tete community and destroyed my 43-room bungalow housing historical documents and many other personal and house wears valued over N250 million,” he said.
In a petition signed by his lawyer Eno T. Offiong Esq of Chancery Associates and addressed to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, he said he was not a kidnapper and he was also not keeping or training kidnappers.
Parts of the petition dated April 28, 2021, reads: “It is our instruction that in spite of the clearance by Operation Akpakwu, to our client’s amazement, another team of Operation Akpakwu, without justification, went to our client’s premises with cans of petrol on the 25th of April 2021, invaded the premises, demolished the structures and set the place ablaze.
“They were done without justifiable reason. Our client is not a kidnapper. He is also not keeping or training kidnappers.”
“By the virtue of his position, he is the custodian of the custom and tradition of his people. It is his responsibility to maintain law and order in his community and not to identify with anything which is contrary to the laws of Cross River State in particular and Nigeria in general.”
“We are aware that our client has a civil case against some persons over the community land at Ekpene Tete and the case is currently on appeal in the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division in Appeal N0: CA/C/216/2017.
“His opponents are persons of no noble character but had been associated with violent crimes in the past. We are of the view that these persons are in league with some ignoble government officials which His Excellency may not be aware of.”
The petition noted that the nonagenarian, a traditional ruler of his status should have been invited and confronted with the evidence against him if any, stressing that “the event of the 25th April 2021 was premeditated and there are persons who are looking for a way to get rid of him or occupy his position, or settle old scores”.
He urged the governor to cause an independent body to investigate the matter and further revealed that “sometime in December 2020, a petition was written to the Commissioner of Police, Cross River State using the name of the Cross River State Government.
“The petition was signed by a person who described himself as a permanent secretary, alleging that our client is a kidnapper. The police investigated the allegation and found it to be false.”
“On the 5th of March 2021, personnel of Operation Akpakwu stormed our client’s premises, destroyed some of his properties. He and some of his children were arrested and later released.
“The double barrel gun they took away is licensed with N0: 106786 and the gun had receipt number 531870. Our client was equally cleared of any wrongdoing”.
“Our client is currently homeless with no clothes to wear. The family deity was completely burnt and the property destroyed/burnt is worth over the sum of N250 million.”
Speaking on phone with our correspondent, the traditional ruler himself acknowledged that one of his sons who were not living with him committed a crime allegedly in 2017 in Calabar and was arrested and has been in prison custody since then till date.
His words: “They have not said it is because of the crime allegedly committed by my son that they came to do what they have done to me. They are acting on false information given to them by people who are fighting me.
“They did not see any group of kidnappers or anything for them to claim that I was harbouring kidnappers. The 43-room bungalow was built by my grandfather.”