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Insecurity: Taking the battle to bad guys’ domain

Residents of Itam and Uyo metropolis in Akwa Ibom State would heave a sigh of relief following the demolition of criminal hideouts at the erstwhile Ntak Inyang abattoir and meat market located along Calabar-Itu road.

This position was made known by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security Matters , Captain Iniobong Ekong (rtd.) while exchanging views with our Correspondent after he led a detachment of Security operatives to demolish criminal hideouts at the old Ntak Inyang abattoir and meat market.

 

The Security Aide premised the operation on Governor Udom Emmanuel’s avowed determination to rid the state of criminal elements and maintaining a safe, as well as a crime-free environment to ensure peace and all round development.

 

According to him, the Ntak Inyang location, which he termed an illegal settlement, has been under security watch over time and has been found to be a haven and incubation ground for criminal activities, which spreads into the Uyo metropolis. He said: “I want to tell you that this location has been under surveillance in the past 24 months. We’ve had information, we’ve gathered intelligence and we’ve also spoken on the side of government.

 

“The first step government took was to establish an abattoir to relocate the people that were engaged in legitimate business and when we got confirmation that almost 80 to 90 per cent of criminal activities in the entire metropolis are actually executed from here, we had no option than to do what government needs to do.

 

“In the first place, this is an illegal settlement. Secondly, it is causing grievous inconvenience, including loss of lives of legitimate citizens and visitors to Akwa Ibom State.

So, government must rise to its responsibility of protecting lives, property and providing conducive environment for businesses to thrive”. He asserted that prior to the operation, about 42 arrests were made and confessional statements linked to the hideout as incubation centre for criminals were made. Ekong explained that the hideout was not a Hausa settlement but dominated by people from various tribes and used the occasion to debunk insinuation that the attack was directed towards the Hausa community in the state.

 

“The Hausa know the friendly disposition of the governor towards them and he has been very passionate with their welfare to the extent that the governor approved an improved slaughter for them to conduct their businesses. Every legitimate Hausa man is welcome to Akwa Ibom State and they must be protected to do their businesses but if any one hides under the guise of tribe, religion or whatever to commit crime, we will come after such a person”, he emphasized. Speaking further, Captain Ekong pointed out that the clampdown was not limited to the Ntak Inyang defunct  abattoir but would continue across the state until criminal gangs were totally crushed.

 

He also cautioned property owners against using their property for criminal activities. “I want to state emphatically that we may not be interested in destroying locations. In this case , the location is already illegal but if we come across legitimate properties where landlords habour criminals, we will not only take out the property, we will take the criminals and hold the landlords accountable.

 

“This is a clear warning to owners of properties across the state. If you know that your property is being used as a channel for perpetuation of crime or criminal activities, please clean it up, else government will come after you; the property, the criminals and everything that would disrupt the peace of Akwa Ibom State,” Captain Ekong warned .

 

Reacting to the demolition, the Imam in charge of a Mosque in the slum, Mallam Abbakar Mohammed, lauded government’s determination in taking action against the overwhelming criminality in the area. The Cleric said the demolition was long overdue and commended the exclusion of the Mosque in the demolition, saying that it’s a demonstration of the state government’s regard for religious institution. Mohammed, who debunked the notion that the demolished area was exclusively a Hausa settlement, argued that the settlement, as any other market community, accommodated people of various ethnicities and trades, including the locals. He however expressed concerns over the huge loss that the operation had put on innocent people, who according to him, had legitimate businesses in the area and solicited government’s assistance to enable them continue in their businesses. “I live and do business around here. What the government is doing is the right thing because the place was becoming somehow, and we were looking for help since. But what happened is that the thing has affected some people that were innocent. “What is happening here is the right thing that the government is supposed to do. It is good; people can now be free, not being afraid that if I go out, someone will come and break my door.

 

Now that government has come to notice that in this area, some people were doing some illegal things, it makes sense to take action but we want government to look at it again. Some of the innocent people have lived here for more than 20 years, practicing various trades. This is not just a Hausa community. It is a market. Everybody is selling here.”

 

Similarly,an indigene of Ntak Inyang, who chose not to be named, said that the community had over time been plagued with extreme criminality and the shanties habouring hoodlums. He affirmed that people from various parts of the country as well as indigenes were doing business in the area, stressing that many have abandoned their shades due to activities of the hoodlums.

He said that the community was grateful for the government intervention, which has dislodged the hoodlums and called on indigenes and people wishing to invest in the area to come and carry out their businesses in peace.

 

A woman who gave her name as “Mma Ndidia” lamented that her business was sometimes at the mercy of the hoodlums who at various instances had robbed her of her earnings and sometimes subjected people having businesses to do around the facility of the AKBC facility in Ntak Inyang to their malignant activities

 

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