NIGERIA: Akpabio Denies Assassination Allegations

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The Akwa Ibom State Government has described an alleged assassination attempt on Chief Sunny Udom as “bare-faced falsehood and blackmail,” designed to “taint and tarnish the hard-earned image, integrity and reputation” of the Governor Goodswill Akpabio-led administration.

A governorship aspirant in the state and former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Umana Okon Umana, in a petition titled: ‘State of Insecurity in Akwa Ibom State and the threats to lives of political opponents of Governor Akpabio’ which emanated from the chambers of Uzomah Ibegbulem and Co, to the Inspector-General of Police (IG), had alleged that the Director-General of his campaign organisation Udom, narrowly escaped assassination when gunmen numbering about five attacked his office complex in Umo Essien Street, off Obio Imo Street, the state capital.

But describing the content of the petition as “wicked lies and utter falsehood,” deliberately put in the public domain to misinform unsuspecting members of the public and hoodwink them into believing what he,tagged as ‘baseless allegations’, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications; Mr. Aniekan Umanah, said Udom only misconstrued armed robbery attack as assassination attempt and made to heap the blame on the governor for political reasons.

“It is unfortunate that a robbery incident at the office of Udom has been misconstrued as an assassination attempt. It is on record that the State Security Service (SSS) had since smashed an armed robbery gang, and subsequently paraded them before the press, for which they made confessional statements as those responsible for the attack on Udom’s office on May 6,  at No. 7 Umoh Essien Street, off Obio Imo Street, Uyo,” he said.

Umanah added that the SSS expressed regrets over the politicisation of the crime when the agency noted in a press briefing that as the investigation was ongoing, local and national media were inundated with sensational headlines of orchestrated state government sponsored assassination and political attacks targeted at key opponents particularly, using the attack on Udom as a reference point.

Quoting the SSS, Umanah noted that: “The command, in the course of this investigation, scrupulously interrogated the suspects on possible government complicity or sponsorship of their operation to which they all corroborated one another in refuting and denouncing any such action but rather affirming that their operation was strictly robbery-based.”

The commissioner also regretted Udom’s labelling of the deceased PDP stalwart and personal friend ofAkpabio, the late Albert Ukpanah, as his ‘opponent’ in the petition, saying such statement would baffle any observer who knew the depth of the relationship between both men.
“Ukpanah was not only a member of the State Working Committee (SWC) of the PDP, but also coordinated the Godswill Akpabio Campaign Organisation in Ukanafun.

“On the morning of March 5, the same day he was assassinated (may his soul rest in peace), Ukpanah was at the Hill Top Mansion, where he met with Akpabio, to solicit for, and received assistance in aid of his wife, who was receiving medical attention at a Lagos hospital. It is curious how the same governor, who gladly assisted his friend, will turn around to send assassins after him,” Umanah said.

He added that the alleged threat to Ekperikpe Ekpo by Akpabio was equally untrue, stressing that the “fact of the matter is that, at St. John Pro-Cathedral, Abak, where the governor attended the wedding ceremony of his niece, Kubiat Udosen, nee Ebienang, he took time out to interact with leaders of the church and Ekperikpe Ekpo on the issue of compensation for the Catholic Church in Abak, due to its proximity to the major highway; a discussion which I was privy to.
Umanah said the allegation of the trailing of Okon Umana by hired assassins was neither here nor there and surprising that he (Umana) would lend himself to the “shenanigans of rumour peddlers and disgruntled politicians,” all in the bid to attract public sympathy to his 2015 governorship ambition.

According to him, “It is on record that Umana, until he left office as  SSG sometime in 2013, was one of the most outspoken salesmen of the good governance witnessed in the state, under the leadership of Akpabio.

“Among many other positive statements to his credit, can be found in the IMPACT magazine, volume 2, No. 13 of September 2012, page 40 -41, where Umana said ‘When you are dealing with people who  are not patriotic, what you do is exactly what Akpabio is doing – remain focused and continue to do the things that are good for the people, that is whether they appreciate it or not’ because the vision is bright and the generality of the people of the state are behind the Governor.”

Umanah insisted that the purported claim to the 2015 senate ambition of Akpabio, “is fictitious and ill-conceived,” adding that “it is a sad commentary that  these politicians could condescend to make political capital out of the tragic and brutal murder of this elder statesman (Ukpanah).”

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