The Government connection and the police cover ups
by Obono Obla
There are numerous gangs’ across the Cross River State formed and financed by politicians. These gangs operate under all sorts of weird names. Calabar South Local Government Area is one of the hottest beds of gangsterism in the state.
In Calabar South Local Government Area these gangs operate openly undeterred and in defiance of the law. They operate and carry on as if they are above the law. They are surely above the law because they are supported by privileged and powerful government officials.
These despicable gangsters were created, nurtured, financed and armed by former Governor Donald Duke, his cohorts and powerful members of the Peoples Democratic Party in their frenzy to use inferior methods to control the politics of the State.
These are also the people that are used to hound and intimidate political opponents within the PDP and then the opposition during election and polls.
The truth must be told even if Heavens shall fall!
I remember, the gruesome murder of Chief Magistrate Maria Nsan in Calabar in 2002 by a political gang belonging to a top PDP politician from Calabar South Local Government Area.
The hapless Magistrate’s offence was that she ruffled feathers when she refused to grant bail to some gangsters that were arraigned before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Calabar presided over by her.
In Yakurr Local Government Area the Executive Chairman, Ubi Itam Ettah, is a Leader of the gang he created, nurtured and financed.
The name of the gang is Operation B2. Operation B2 is the pseudonym for Bomboy. Bomboy is the pet name of Ubi Itam Ettah. This gang is vicious and the members are blindly loyal to Ubi Itam Ettah.
In December, 2008, this vicious gang was unleashed on One Augustine Omini Iwara, also known as Hydrocarbon. Mr. Omini is from Ikpakapit Ward of Ugep Urban, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State.
He was a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
However, during the nomination of candidates for the Peoples Democratic Party in Yakurr Local Government Area for the position of Chairman for the 2007 Local Government Council election in Cross River State of Nigeria, he bluntly refused to support the aspiration and ambition of Mr. Ubi Itam Ettah, who was then the Executive Secretary of the Ugep Urban Development Authority.
Ubi Itam was very unpopular within the rank and file of the Yakurr Chapter of the PDP but his nomination was a foregone conclusion because his campaign was well oiled with slush funds which he used to grease the palms of top ranking members of the State Executive Committee who turned a blind eye to a deluge of petitions against his candidacy.
The gist of the petition was that Ubi Itam Ettah’s credentials were dubious and questionable. Despite the cogent and weighty documentary evidence that Ubi Itam Ettah was not qualified to be Chairman his nomination sailed through. Mr. Omini was alarmed and incensed. He instructed his lawyers to file an action in the High Court, Ugep, seeking for a declaration that Ubi Itam Ettah was not qualified to be Chairman.
However the case was thrown out on the ground of technicality. Mr. Omini an indefatigable and dogged fighter and crusader challenged the ruling of the High Court in the Court of Appeal. While the matter was in the Court of Appeal, Ubi Itam Ettah approached Omini for a settlement out of Court.
He offered to pay Mr. Omini the sum of N5 Million for him to withdraw his case from the Court of Appeal. Mr. Omini bluntly refused but rather asked that Ubi Itam Ettah who was elected in the election as Chairman of Yakurr to resign. There and there Ubi Itam Ettah threatened that he would deal squarely with Mr. Omini.
On the 12th December, 2008, members of Operation B2 staged a commando style invasion of the house of Mr. Omini. Mr. Omini was away to Calabar.
However the gang terrorized his wife and children. Every property in the house was destroyed. The wife and children of Omini were assaulted and battered. Mr. Omini was called and told about the ugly incident.
Mr. Omini decided to lodge a complaint to the Nigeria Police Force, Zone Six Police Headquarters, Calabar. The Police gave Omini two Officers to take him to Ugep and arrest the perpetrators of the attack in his House.
Meanwhile, Ubi Itam Ettah had got wind of the plan to arrest his boys and decided to ambush the team of Police Officers dispatched to Ugep to arrest his “boys”. When Omini and the Police Officers arrived Ugep, they went to the Palace of the Clan Head of Ntankpo Village to intimate him of their mission.
While there an attack was staged by Operation B2. The gangsters came in a Hilux belonging to Yakurr Local Government Area. The gangsters abducted Omini and the Police Officers and drove to the private residence of Ubi Itam Ettah at Biko-biko, Ugep. There Omini and the two Police Officers were brutally assaulted, manhandled and beaten.
They were imprisoned for several hours. Ubi Itam Ettah used an axe on the head of Omini and ripped it open. Luckily the Police in Ugep were alerted by a Good Samaritan and a contingent of Police Officers led by the Divisional Police Officers came to rescue Omini and the Police Officers.
Until today nobody was prosecuted for this dastardly act. Mr. Ubi Itam Ettah was never cautioned by the State Government. The Police turned a blind eye because very top officials including the then Assistant Inspector General were bribed to kill the case. The Assistant Inspector General had the effrontery to invite Omini to settle with Mr. Ubi Itam Ettah.
I am telling this rather boring story to illustrate the fact that political gang warfare is thriving in the Cross River State. The Police are unwilling to prosecute the financiers and the perpetrators. The State Government is also unwilling to stop it. It is a vicious circle.
Nigeria democracy is jaundiced. There is no Rule of Law but the Rule of Might. Just two Months ago, Ubi Itam Ettah assaulted and manhandled a Primary School Teacher, Mrs. Virginia Okoi Chinedu, a mother of 3.
When Mrs. Chinedu went to the Divisional Police Officer in Ugep to lodge a complaint against the so-called Chairman, the DPO developed cold feet when she mentioned the name of the person who manhandled her.
The DPO told Mrs. Chinedu that she better let go because he was not willing to incur the wrath of Ubi Itam Ettah. The DPO rather advised Mrs. Chinedu to settle with Ubi Itam Ettah. Until this moment the Police have refused to invite Ubi Itam, Ettah for questioning.
The “Chief Thug” and “Commander” of Operation B2 between 2007-2010 was the then Supervisory Councillor for Finance, Yakurr Local Government Council, Ubana Iwara Ubana (Ubana Observer) who is inebriated with power so much so that he operated openly and had no qualms whatsoever. Ubana Iwara Ubana is the Special Assistant to the Chairman of Yakurr Local Government Area on Peace and Security!
Let me mention an incident in July, 2007, during the Primary Election to nominate the candidate for Ikpakapit Ward of Yakurr Local Government Area for the 2010 Local Government Elections in the State when Ubana Iwara had the guts to descend on a distinguished personage such as Dr. Otu Abam Ubi and dealt several fist blows on the face of the elderly man.
Dr. Ubi is a former Principal of the defunct School of Basic Studies, Akamkpa. He is presently a Commissioner in the Cross River State Civil Service Commission.
Dr Ubi belongs to the Peoples Democratic Party but did not support the candidate preferred by Ubana Observer and this was what actuated the malice for Ubana Observer to throw decorum to the winds to beat up an elderly man in the full glare of the public during the Primary Election held in July, 2010, to nominate the candidate for IKpakapit Ward.
This is sacrilegious in our tradition. It was an ugly sight to behold. It was a classical example of the complete breakdown of values and the lawlessness that characterised Yakurr Politics since the Peoples Democratic Party took over the reins of political power in 1999.
It was a good illustration of the type of viciousness and desperation that has gripped Yakurr in particular and the Cross River State in general and the negative influence of political gansterism in politics.
Another person attacked by Operation B2 led by Ubana Observer was a Youth from Egbuzium, IKpakapit Ward, known as Marshall Ofem.
Ubana Observer had ordered his gang, armed with daggers, machetes, guns and other lethal weaponry to attack Marshall, who had the boldness to confront Ubana Observer to demand an explanation on why he should beat up Dr. Ubi.
Ubana Observer personally used an axe to sever the right arm of Marshall. Marshall collapsed on the ground of Ikpakapit Play Ground, Ugep, bleeding profusely and writhing in excruciating pains. Marshall was rushed to the General Hospital, Ugep, half dead.
Not yet done after attacking and wounding scores of people, this murderous gang abducted and took captive to the official residence of Ubi Itam Ettah, a younger brother of Marshall, Eclipse Ofem.
It took the quick intervention of the then Commissioner of Police in Cross River State, who placed a call to Ubi Itam Ettah and severely warned him of the consequences of any untoward thing happening to his captive.
This call from the Commissioner of Police saved the young man who was already bloodied and half conscious from the several machete cuts on his head, arms, legs and body.
In July, 2006, there was an internecine warfare in Ekori, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State between gangs financed and sponsored by politicians. Several people were killed and properties destroyed.
One of the politicians who were fingered in the crisis was the then Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Hon. Bassey Ewa, who incidentally is from the area. Until this moment nobody was prosecuted despite the fact that the then Speaker and his conspirators were arrested by the Police and detained for several days.
The Police are cowardly and timid when dealing with top politicians that peddle clout and influence. The then Governor Donald Duke arbitrarily sacked the Paramount Chief of Ekori, Obol Dennis Onen David and withdrew his Certificate of Recognition on the ground that he was unable to stop the crisis but left the politicians that were figured as the organizers and perpetrators!
Political gansterism in Cross River State is a wind that will eventually engulf the supporters of these vicious and blood thirsty gangs.
Gansterism is anathema to democracy and the Rule of Law. In a democratic society nobody is above the law. Everybody is subject to the law no matter his or her status in society. But the Nigerian democracy is bastardized.
The financiers of these gangs are well oiled and well connected. Gansterism will end when sovereignty is returned to the people. Presently sovereignty has been hijacked by a cabal. The people who should be the ultimate have been rendered impotent.
I call on the Governor of Cross River State of Nigeria, Senator Liyel Imoke, to order a Judicial Commission into the activities of these political gangs in Cross River State in order to expose their financiers and memberships.
• Obono-Obla is a Barrister & Civil Society Activist.
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