A PASSIONATE APPEAL TO HIS EXCELLENCY GOVERNOR UDOM EMMANUEL ON THE HARRASSMENT OF INNOCENT CITIZENS OF EKET LOCAL GOVERNMENT BY THE NIGERIAN POLICE.
As someone no less imbued with or committed than yourself to the democratic ideals for our beloved country, I write in reference to the recent Police brutality of Eket indigenes and for those who had chosen Eket as their place of domicile because of the general peace that has enveloped the place over the years, purportedly in search of cultists.
His Excellency, it will amount to mere puff to ignore the level of intimidation, humiliation, degradation, assault, battery and indignities, the Nigeria Police had subjected the Eket people to, during these last few days of Police onslaught on cultists in Eket.
His Excellency, In their attempt to uncover the identity of the alleged cultists, Eket local government became paralyzed by daily civil disturbances, major roads were blocked and businesses which are a source of livelihood were technically shut down ,every road user were assaulted in a dramatic twists of what they will consider as search. Those innocent citizens who had laboured to keep their hair lost them to the merciless scissors of these riot looking Policemen. Women and children were not spared,as they searched even the forbidden thickets of their bodies and were even compelled to remove their clothing. The manner in which these inhuman treatments were carried out depicted the barbarism of Old Savage tradition of the ancient Nok civilisation. It was utterly hostile to reason and bereft of any form of rationality, in fact, to say the least, it was an eyesore.
His Excellency, let me state that by the nature of Eket people, they are generally and unarguably peaceful. This is evident in the fact that, in spite of being the reservoir of Nigeria’s huge crude oil reserves, they have resisted the temptation to carry arms against the state. The peaceful nature of the Eket people was re-echoed by the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo while on a working visit to the State. I am an Eket indigene, and I maintain that in as much as I strongly condemn cultism in its entirety, the search for cultists by the Police should not justify the subjugation Eket people into such depths of infamy and human indignities.
I cannot possibly understand what the Police adduces to have been the motive for such wanton show of inhumanity to Eket civil populace. As far as I can see it, the Police has not established any nexus that a cultist is one who keeps long beard, or who allows his hair to grow, to have justified cutting young men hair and scratching off their beards against their consent. I can only assume that, this was a political persecution meant to silence and further box the Eket people into submission. The worst part of it is the conspiracy of silence of Hon. David Lawrence, member representing Eket State constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and that of Eket local government Caretaker Chairman, Frank Archibong. Their contributory negligence has gone a long way to emboldened the Police to continue in their humiliation of the Eket people.
Obviously, this act of naivete’ by the Police has exposed their ineptitude and compromise their modus operandi and thus putting to question, the need for the confidence reposed in them by the public. It is a professional etiquette for the Police to work on intelligence, the unwholesome ransacking of innocent men and women in the full glare of the public purportedly in search of cultists leave much to be desired from the Nigerian Police whose stock in trade is supposed to be the protection of law and order. Their investigations were no investigations at all, will any reasonable person who is a cultist, having seen the Gestapo-styled operation carried out by the Police in broad day light, attempt to use that road?
It is a common sense but I doubt whether the Police have common sense at all to have known that even cultists would scrap off their beards and walk past without any hint of suspicion. This is a public show of total disregard to the dignity of human persons, specifically, an embarrassment on the collective sensibilities of Eket people. What the Police did was only to mount road blocks on the major streets and harassed anyone who had marks or tattoo on their chests or keep a moustache or hair. These acts of brutality has exposed the lax in the Police, their lack of internal intelligence gathering network thereby compromising their credibility and undermining the superiority and confidence reposed in them.
Against these background of increasing assaults on the corporate prestige, interests, and overall sensibilities of Eket people, I passionately appeal to Governor Udom Emmanuel to call the Commissioner of Police and his men to order, that the Police should respect constitutionally guaranteed rights of the citizens, including their rights to human dignity. That I restate the point that cultism is a scourge that must, as a matter of compulsion, be totally uprooted for a peaceful and better society, but it must not be at the mercy of human rights and civil liberties. This letter should serve to warn the Nigeria Police to desist from infringing on fundamental rights of citizens or it shall be met with lawful resistance.
In view of a prevention of a re-occurrence of such, and for the purpose of curbing the effect of cultism in the society, I hereby make the following recommendations;
1) Ethical and Re-orientation Commission Agency that was first introduced by former Governor Victor Attah be revived. The likes of Barr. Eseme Eyibio who headed the commission at its inception be consulted on how best to bring back our lost values. This method will tackle the challenge of cultism from the roots. You will agree with me that there is a far cry from the days of yore and today in terms of values.
2) Jingles on ethical values must be made to complement Dakkada Creed . Mr. Exto of ‘Fly wey no get adviser hall of fame’ should be emulated. This moral messages used to help in no mean way. Today, most of what we do on our state media outlets is to sing songs of praise to politicians.
3) Politicians should stop keeping private bodyguards as securities. It is a fall out of this act that we have our youths scrambling to join cultism in order to enjoy the largesse that flows from government. Government as a whole should stop encouraging violence and rewarding same, because the moral standards of the followers is a reflection of its leadership.
4) Whereas a government functionary from any country of the developed world could freely walk into a gathering unannounced and unnoticed,in Nigeria, a Councillor’s presence right from arrival is overblown by a large entourage amidst heavy siren. This breeds the need for more security, hence cultism.
In conclusion ,I re-affirms Eket peoples’ culture and age-long tradition of peace, though not a sign of cowardice, but a natural virtue that has elude many people. We are a hospitable and unique people with common ancestry, I urge the Eket people and those domiciled therein to feel free to do their businesses in Eket, for the days of brutality are over, never to come again.
Thank you Your Excellency, as we await your positive corrections regarding issues raised in this letter.
David Emmanuel Umem