DETENTION OF ODUDU UKPANAH: HOW I WISH GANI FAWEHINMI DID NOT DIE

Inibehe Effiong

For the benefit of those that are still oblivious of the continued incarceration of Mr. Odudu Ukpanah, male, 31, an indigene of Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State and a B.Sc holder in Geophysics from the University of Calabar and an M.Sc holder in Oil and Gas Management from Coventry University, United Kingdom, on the orders of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio JP?, I will give a brief insight into the case.

Odudu Ukpanah is the only son of the Late Engr. Albert Jimmy Ukpanah that was assassinated on March 12, 2014 in his residence. The senior Ukpanah was an outspoken chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State.

Notably, aside being a thorn in the flesh of some prominent politicians and political office holders in his area, the late Albert Ukpanah was a vociferous opponent of the 2015 senatorial ambition of Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State. He equally opposed the attempt by the governor to impose a successor on the state. He supported the 2015 gubernatorial ambition of the erstwhile deputy governor of the state, Mr. Nsima Ekere instead of the governor’s choice, Udom Emmanuel.

Like several other persons in his area that subscribe to the PDP zoning policy, he believed that it was the turn of his area (Abak Federal Constituency) to produce the next senator to represent the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State in the Senate come 2015. He saw Akpabio’s Senate bid as a grave injustice to his people. This informed his active involvement in the Abak District Elders Forum (an organization that was formed to fight for the political and economic rights of the people of the old Abak in the state) where he served as the secretary.

On Wednesday March 12, 2014, he was brutally murdered by dare-devil assassins at his Abak residence at about 9:40pm.

From the cogent, uncontradicted and plausible account given by the immediate family of the slain politician, the deceased asked his son, Odudu, who was the only person with him at the material time to bring three (3) plastic chairs and a stool for himself and yet to be identified visitors that he was expecting.

After bringing out the chairs as directed, Odudu went inside the living room and continued watching the European Champions League between Manchester City and Barcelona which he was enjoying prior to the arrival of the visitors. His father later came into the living room and took drinks (1 Remy martins and 1 can stout), which he ostensibly offered his guests. On sensing that the expected meeting had lasted for too long, Odudu checked on his father only to meet him lying lifeless in the pool of his blood.

An investigation into the incident was taken over by the State Police Command which resulted in the production of a Police Investigation Report. I have the report with me. For clarity and benefit of doubt, the opinion/recommendation part of the Police Investigation Report dated 25th March, 2014 and signed by the IPO, Sgt. Ibediro Nnamdi, is reproduced verbatim as follows:

“In view of the above findings, the following suggestions are proffered. Since investigation into the case is still on, it is wise to nose around for more information that may reveal the REAL KILLERS of Hon. (Engr.), Albert Ukpanah, AS THE KILLING MIGHT BE POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ASSASSINS.
Above report is for your consideration and further directive, please” (emphasis mine).

I need to also mention here that in furtherance of investigation into this case, the police had seized the GSM phone of the late Albert Ukpanah with an undertaking that same would be forwarded to the State Security Service (SSS) for forensic analysis since the deceased is believed to had communicated on phone with his yet to be identified guests before their arrival.

Till date, nothing has been heard of the result of the said forensic analysis by the SSS. Nigerians should ask the Akwa Ibom State Government, the SSS and the police of the outcome of the forensic analysis. A check with service providers would have revealed the call logs of the deceased shortly before he was murdered.

Instead of identifying the ‘REAL KILLERS’ of Albert Ukpanah as recommended by the IPO, the Akwa Ibom State Government led by Gov. Godswill Akpabio who had vowed during the burial of the slain politician that he would “fished out” the “killers” of his friend? went on a wild goose chase and had his only son, Odudu Ukpanah framed-up, arrested and charged to court on a trump-up charge of killing his own father.

Odudu Ukpanah has been in custody since 27th May, 2014. He is presently suffering from an illment which developed while he was in the United Kingdom for his masters degree. The condition is such that the prison authorities had to write to the relevant quarters since they lack the requisite facilities to cater for his illment. The hospital that he was rushed to when he collapsed in the UK had to send a report down here. He also collapsed in the Ikot Ekpene Medium Prison where he is being held. His mother and wife of the slain politician is critically down with cancer, pakinson and stroke.

The three sisters of Odudu, including a lawyer, are close to a state of bankruptcy owing to the high cost of their mother’s medical care and litigation. Initially, they were so scared of telling the poor widow that her only son is being accused of killing her husband. They kept giving her one excuse or the other over the long absence of her only son until they exhausted excuses. Ever since the news of her only son’s incarceration was broken to her, her condition has worsen. Interestingly, the three sisters of Odudu are currently the most vociferous champions of his innocence. So why is Gov. Akpabio crying more than the bereaved? Please why?

I have made spirited efforts to reach out to many of our human rights crusaders that I have contacts and relationship with on the need for the Nigerian human rights community and civil society to rise to the defence and rescue of Odudu Ukpanah before he dies (God forbid) in custody but it is so heart breaking that most of our comrades seems too busy to appreciate the historical significance and the urgency of this case.

This was the same unfortunate experience that I had when I took up the #FreeUniuyo44 Campaign, few of us were left to shout and fight alone. In that case, students of the University of Uyo had embarked on a very peaceful protest on June 12, 2013 to ventilate their opposition to the oppressive policies of the institution’s management. Instead of attending to the grievances of the students, the management invited anti-riot police men to quell the peaceful protest. The police fired live bullets which resulted in the death of a student. This escalated the protest into burning of the school’s properties.

During his visit to the institution, the same Gov. Akpabio ordered that those who damaged the properties be “fished out” by the police. The police saw that order as a blank cheque to swoop on innocent students who were in the off campus male hostel of the school and on the road. They arrested Innocent 44 students. The students were detained for months (some spent up to a year) in prison over crimes they knew nothing about.

One of them ran mad while the affected parents sold off all they had to pay lawyers. I led a protests in Uyo and also in Calabar in partnership with the Joint Action Front (JAF) demanding that those students be released but the needed solidarity never came from our seniors in the struggle. In the end, it took the court to free those students from captivity.

Now again, our activists are repeating the terrible mistake of the past, they are closing their eyes to the Odudu Ukpanah’s detention. This case has made me heart broken. It is as if real, non profit, populist and non selective activism died with the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN SAM. Lately, I have been wondering if our hero, Gani, went to the grave with the conscience of the Nigeria. I shed tears when the news of Gani Fawehinmi ‘s death was broken because I foresaw the vacuum that his death will create in the world of real activism.

The case of Odudu Ukpanah and the ongoing cruel silence of our activists has made me to cry once again for the death of ‘The Peoples Lawyer’. If Gani Fawehinmi did not die, I am sure he would have rose to the occasion and saved Odudu from the clutches of a heartless governor. I urge all those who profess to be disciples and associates of Gani to use Odudu’s case to honour his memory. Let them prove me wrong that true activism did not die with Gani Fawehinmi.

The time to act is now.

Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist based in Lagos,  Nigeria and the Convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders ( COHRD ).

Email : inibehe.effiong@gmail.com
              
+2348065142135

THE LIES OF THE ARMY! BORNO HUNTERS TRULY RE-CAPTURED MUBI, NOT NIGERIAN SOLDIERS

The Security Bits section (page 15) of Thisday Newspaper December 27, 2014 carried a piece written by one Colonel Timothy Antigha, the Chief of Staff, Directorate of Army Public Relations.  Half way through it, I almost shed tears, tears of sorrow at what I would call the shallow understanding of men in high places.  I know, at the end of this, I would be dismissed as one lacking in military warfare, one who needs not and should not talk when military men talk, especially of the rank of a Colonel. But just give me your ears for a minute.

Col Antigha spent more than half of the piece trying to proof the hunters were not responsible for the recapture of Mubi, that in itself says a lot. A wise elder once told me that when a man begins to try to proof a point by all means when no one has asked him to proof it, he has something he is trying to hide. When a millionaire begins to try to prove that he is richer than a known pauper, something is wrong somewhere. Col Antigha in a swift change of direction, however, asserted the hunters provided human intelligence; intelligence, the very thing some of us have muttered under our breath is the secret ingredient needed to surmount Boko Haram. In deed Col Antigha agreed to this, albeit passively, when he said, “… it takes more than weapons to end terrorism and insurgency.”

In his proof that hunters were not responsible for the recapture of Mubi, Col Antigha used two points as his bases; (1) the hunters do not have modern weaponry where as Boko Haram benefited from large cache of arms from the fall of Libya and purchase from the black market (he forgot to mention the looting of Nigerian Army armories); (2) Boko Haram outnumber the hunters. Let us look at these two points one after another in conjunction with some portions of Col Antigha’s writing to see if indeed his writing stands logic on its feet (or on its head) and if he actually believed what he wrote.

Judging by his first name, Timothy, Col Antigha must be a Christian; as such he would be familiar with the story of David and Goliath. David a mere boy, whose only fight was with lions and bears (just like these hunters) defeated a man trained in the art of war from his youth who also had the advantage of superior weaponry and defenses. It is true superior weapons confer an advantage to an opponent, but that alone cannot and should not be used as a yard stick to judge who will ultimately win; other parameters need to be considered, two of which he mentioned: intelligence on the enemy and the population of trained fighters.  But if Col Antigha insists superior weaponry is all that is needed to win a fight, then we have our proof that Boko Haram is better armed than the Nigerian Armed Forces, since the latter has consistently failed to dislodge and uproot the former from its supposedly captured territories and strongholds of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states. But it he agrees that in addition to superior weapons other factors too come into play, then his argument that because the hunters do not have sophisticated weapons and as such cannot defeat Boko Haram cannot fly.

Hunting may be a bow and arrow business, but is the Colonel aware that the lethality of these arrows can be more than even AK-47s? A man with a limb damaged by a gun or grenade can still survive if given the right and prompt medical attention, however, a man given even a scratch by a poisoned arrow would undoubtedly die. With a poisoned arrow, you do not need to aim for the heart or head; you just shoot anywhere provided you can get a wound on your victim. I have witnessed a few communal clashes; have listened to stories of men from these conflicts so I know what happens with these crude instruments.

Col Antigha’s assertion that Boko Haram has more fighters than the number of hunters cannot be verified and so cannot stand. The population on both sides is not registered so how did the respected Colonel come to the conclusion that one side is more populated that the other. The question to be asked here is is population really a factor in who wins an encounter? This is not a mob action where the group with the most population pours on and over powers the less populated group. This is like a hide-and-seek game, where success depends on one’s ability to unearth the opponent’s position; here population size counts but very, very little. A fall out of this argument by Col Antigha is that when Boko Haram over ran a Barracks in Borno State, they must have come in numbers large enough to be more than the entire personnel of the barracks; except of course that story too was the imagination of fifth columnists bent on dampening the morale of soldiers. But if however, that actually happened, then population is of little importance.

In continuing his defense that the hunters did not dislodge Boko Haram from Mubi, our Col Antigha had this to say; “Besides, human beings naturally celebrate achievement and cherish the limelight that comes with it, so how come no hunter has been identified or interviewed …” Col Antigha as a public relations man may be comfortable with field men posing before cameras to show their faces to all including the enemy, however, these hunters know better; they prefer to play in the background rather than to the gallery. There is wisdom in hiding who you are from the enemy; there is wisdom in the enemy not knowing where his death blow will come from; whether from afar off or from the person next to him. That element of surprise confers advantage. When these hunters begin to grant interviews, throw parties to celebrate victories, their identity will become public knowledge, that edge of surprise will be lost. Col Antigha should understand that the Army finds it difficult to confront Boko Haram precisely for this reason; the army cannot tell who really Boko Haram is. They do not wear uniform, they do not grant interviews, they do not throw parties to celebrate victories; when they appear in their videos, their faces are covered – remaining invisible in plain sight is the name of the game if one must survive against the enemy. The respected Colonel Antigha should know this.

In his argument, Col Antigha made a statement that tends to negate (at least to me) all his arguments; he said “Additionally, most Boko Haram insurgents are non-Nigerians …” Every man knows that in every contest, playing on home ground offers you an advantage even when confronting a superior opponent. If indeed these Boko Haram fighters are non-Nigerians fighting in Nigeria, they are fighting on foreign soil, however, the hunters are fighting on home ground. They know the terrain better, they know where to lead the Boko Haram fighters so they could be cornered, they know where to run to should the need arise, they know the hiding places, they have walked the terrain several times both day and night. Shouldn’t our Colonel see these as portent advantages these hunters had over Boko Haram that would lead to their success? Boko Haram is not using fighter jets or helicopters so they were forced to walk the ground, the ground that the hunters have superior knowledge of. Boko Haram may have superior weapons, superior knowledge of war, but with the kind of equipments the Colonel described, it is only when you see an enemy that you kill, and when an enemy knows the terrain more than you, you are at a disadvantage, you can’t see him; where as he can see you. Carrying a belt-fed gun means nothing if you can’t see the enemy to shoot, however carrying even a blunt knife or poisoned arrow means everything if you can sneak quietly behind your enemy.

I appreciate the fact that the Nigerian Armed Forces are engaged in an unconventional warfare against Boko Haram; I also appreciate the fact that they are doing the much they can with the little at their disposal, what I do not understand is the Armed Forces like their Commander in chief attributing every single event to “fifth columnist bent on undermining the Armed Forces of Nigeria”; May be like-father-like-son.

Amene Ter’Hemen
Twitter: @amenest

FRAUD! EX DIAMOND BANK BOSS, OTTI GIVES UMEH $3 MILLION TO GET APGA GUBER TICKET

Madubuko Hart

When the former Group Managing Director/CEO of Diamond Bank Plc, Dr. Alex Otti resigned his position to contest for the 2015 governorship of Abia State, many of us thought that an intellectual had come to the contest. But when he started his venoms against the government of Governor Theodore Orji by calling it names, we know that he had nothing to offer.

Otti who was originally from Arochukwu with his state-of-the art building built there ran away from his aboriginal village to claim Ngwa person when he heard that the governorship in the 2015 elections was zoned to the Ukwa/Ngwa area. Nonetheless, Otti was at the same time speaking from the sides of his mouth that the zoning formula had been killed. That was when he wanted to contest from his Arochukwu village. But when he saw that the governor was head bent on that Ukwa/Ngwa must produce the next governor, he shifted gear.

Otti’s initial stand was his warning to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the idea of zoning, and he said: “I learnt that you people said you have zoned the governorship to Abia South. No, it is wrong because the national leadership of the PDP had already killed the zoning arrangement in 2011. Remember, that at that time the office of the president was zoned to the North, yet the South is occupying that position today. So, the contest must be thrown open.”

Those clamouring for Otti to succeed the present governor are just doing so based on sentiment. A severe examination of the man called Otti attests that he has dubious gesticulations for power than people know. This is a man who contested the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) primary in a hotel along Aba Road, Umuahia and used faked document to announce himself winner after he was deliberately blindfolded by the so-called Victor Umeh-led national leadership of APGA to the tone of $3m.

While Otti was seeing himself as the winner of the primary election of the party, the true winner emerged in APGA in the person of Ochiagha Reagan Ufomba, who is the only credible candidate in the Abia APGA to contest the governorship election in 2015 with other political parties’ candidates.

With what Otti is causing in the state has shown the man as an unintelligent person, no matter the three doctorate degrees his garrulous campaign team has been hyping that he has. His campaign is issue-baseless and one will not restrain to qualify him as an agent sent by his paymasters to make sure that he deconstructs the government of Governor Orji, which he knows that it will be difficult for him to achieve.

In that highlight, one observer had this to say: The various political parties should come out clean with their various programmes on how to build on that foundation and make the state one of the best. But instead of seeing such discourse, the factional APGA governorship candidate, Alex Otti and his camp… have continued to insult the sensibilities of Abians by making frivolous claims and propaganda that do not hold water or contribute to the uplifting of the political debate. For instance, how can anybody in his rightful senses claim that Governor Orji, who has provided a number of legacy structures that are visible everywhere, has not done anything?

It is pertinent to write that Otti is dead on arrival and his political coffin would be nailed in the 2015 general elections. He knows that he is not heading to anywhere; hence he resorts to throwing stones by saying that the PDP candidate in the state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu was being sponsored by the state government. What Otti did not realize, according to a critic, is that Dr. Ikpeazu, as a bona fide citizen of Abia State, is free to contest any election of his choice, provided he is qualified to run in that election.

However, in the light of that, the Government of Abia State through the sociable Chief Press Secretary to Abia State Governor, Mr. Charles Ajunwa, had described the likes of Umeh and Otti as pathological liars and agents of destruction masquerading as politicians. The question that the governor had asked through Ajunwa is: “Where were Umeh and Otti when His Excellency Governor Theodore Orji through his inspiring doggedness restored sanity and peace in Aba in particular and Abia in general by ending kidnapping which completely brought all activities in the state to a standstill? Where were Umeh and Otti when Governor Theodore Orji started and completed the hitherto impassable Aba/Owerri Road?”

The puzzle continued: “Where were Umeh and Otti when His Excellency started the de-silting of drains in Aba? Where were Umeh and Otti when Governor T.A. Orji constructed the Uruakpa Road in Aba South? Where were they when Governor Orji started and completed the reconstruction of Ukwu Mango section of Faulks Road Aba (1.2km)? Where were Umeh and Otti when Governor Orji started and completed the access road to Geometric Power Plant Aba? Where were they when Governor Orji restored the manhood of Abians? (To borrow the insightful words of Chief Ojo Maduekwe) Just to mention but a few.”

Ajunwa had seen that Otti and his co-travellers were economic with the truth about the government of his boss, because they were jealous of Governor Orji’s laudable and verifiable achievements, which put him ahead of other past leaders of the state. Ajunwa was of the opinion that Governor Orji’s remarkable achievements have won him uncountable awards and laurels from all parts of the world.

He described his boss as one leader who does not believe in propaganda as a tool for governance, rather he believes in hard work and selfless service to humanity. Therefore, it’s evident that Otti who aligns with Umeh to smear Governor Orji cannot be trusted, because as Nigerians knew, Umeh is a man that cannot be trusted, because he is gullible with power.

Umeh’s tenure as APGA’s chairman had expired since 5 years ago, yet Umeh clinched unto the leadership of the party for selfish reasons. This is a man that Otti has embraced. Like father, they say, like son. It then means that Otti can never be trusted. 

.Hart writes from Lagos