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Udoedehe, Ibanga Akpabio, Enoidem And The 2011 Crisis: Can We Learn Some Lessons?

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ETIM ETIM Election Series (15)

OPINION

By Etim Etim

I have just seen a lengthy video in which an APC chieftain, Hon. Ibanga Akpabio is giving reasons for not supporting his brother, Senator Godswill Akpabio in the senate race; instead, he is endorsing Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem of PDP.  In the video, Hon Ibanga Akpabio, sitting in his living room, with a few people, including Enoidem, is giving a detailed narration of his experiences with Senator Akpabio. He is also painting a character trait of the former governor in a very disparaging manner.

A montage of the pictures of some dead Akwa Ibom sons, including Ime Umana and Okon Uwah, together with pictures of burnt bodies, buildings and vehicles run across the screen as Ibanga is briefing his guests. The video is well produced and is meant to present Senator Akpabio in an unflattering way.

I am not really interested in anybody’s family squabbles, but this video is of importance to me because my friend and brother, Senator John James Udoedehe is mentioned.  My objective therefore is to draw some lessons from the experiences of the past.

The video, titled ‘’Bombshell! Godswill Akpabio Exposed’’, shows Ibanga announcing to his audience that he is supporting Senator Udoedehe for the 2023 governorship election because ‘’Udoedehe was the most prominent Ibibio man that time who openly spearheaded Akpabio’s governorship campaign in 2006/2007 and campaigned vigorously for him’’. ‘’Go and check, there was no other prominent Ibibio man then apart from Udoedehe. There were young boys like Enobong Uwah, running around for us then, but I am talking about someone with a name recognition then. It was only Udoedehe who was with us. So, I am supporting Udoedehe for the sake of justice’’, said Ibanga in the video.

The video continues with Ibanga commenting on DIG Ekpo Udom; Akpabio and NDDC; the 2019 election and Chris Ekpenyong; the 2023 election; Prince Akpabio; Emmanuel Iyangetor; Mrs Unoma Akpabio; Efiong Akwa and the detention of Police Officer Iderenyin, among many others.  He then goes into how he brought Senator Akpabio from Lagos in 2001 to Uyo to be given appointment by Gov. Attah. At each point, Ibanga is making very denigrating remarks about his brother in blood-curdling details.

Then, Ibanga, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans pants, touched on the crisis of March 2011 that engulfed the state and nearly threw Akwa Ibom into a major inter-ethnic conflict. Gov. Akpabio was then contesting for reelection as governor and Senator Udoedehe was running for governor under ACN. On March 23, Senator Udoedehe went to Ikot Ekpene to campaign, but his campaign train was ambushed and shot at as he, his wife and supporters were driving into Ikot Ekpene. Many people were killed and wounded. Senator Udoedehe returned to Uyo that afternoon. That evening riots broke out in Uyo, buildings were torched and some vehicles parked in the premises of Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat were burnt.

On the order of the State government, Senator Udoedehe was arrested, charged for murder and arson, and kept in prison custody until just a day before that year’s election. The government’s propaganda was that it was Udoedehe’s supporters that set fire on the government’s vehicles at the Secretariat.  Udoedehe was branded as a violent man, humiliated, vilified, persecuted and destroyed by the propaganda machinery of the government. It was the lowest moment in his life.

I was then a manager of Access Bank branch in Uyo, located on Gibbs Street. I was in office that day, but my brother was in Udoedehe’s campaign team and was almost killed in the hail of bullets that were released on them in Ikot Ekpene, as he told me later. Senator Udoedehe had spent the last 12 years denying complicity in the crisis. His exoneration has been fully established today by nother person than the man who should know, Hon. Ibanga Akpabio. To God be the Glory!

 In the video, Ibanga, who was then an insider in the Akpabio administration, categorically stated that Udoedehe was not responsible for the burning of the President Jonathan Campaign building and the vehicles parked in the state Secretariat. ‘’The story then was that Udoedehe was responsible for the carnage. But we all know that it is not true’’, Ibanga says in the video, and others listening to him could be heard concurring with him. This is the first official exoneration of Udoedehe from the allegations associated with the 2011 crisis. Although some of us had always known that he was wrongly arrested and humiliated, Ibanga’s confession has set the records straight. 

The video was sent to me today by an APC chieftain, and after watching it, I exclaimed ‘’Jesus!’’. The details of Ibanga’s revelations are chilling. In the end, Ibanga is heard advising Enoidem to ‘’take your security seriously because there is so much desperation now’’.

My Take:

I recommend everybody to watch the video as it is very informative. I cannot write even 20% of what is in it.

I have also spoken with Senator Udoedehe after watching the video, and he is grateful to God that Ibanga is not only supporting him, but has also found the courage to make the revelation that has put the records straight on the 2011 incident.

Twelve years after, where are the key characters of that crisis now? Even those who bonded together to humiliate an innocent man are now fighting each other. Enoidem himself who issued the warning to Udoedehe not to enter Ikot Ekpene in 2011 is now at war with his former boss, insulting and abusing him every day. Ibanga is even heard in the video advising him (Enoidem) to watch his back. Incredible! Reviewing all this with me this afternoon, Senator Udoedehe said, ‘’God works in mysterious ways. I have forgiven them. I have moved on. God is great’’.

What lessons do we learn as we prepare for another election? Senator Udoedehe has survived the vilest treachery, betrayal and hate. He started this race as an underdog, but today, he is the only good man standing. God is about to do something wonderful for Akwa Ibom!

Etim is a Journalist and Political Analyst

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