No fewer than 5000 persons are said to have been displaced in Essien Udim local government area of Akwa Ibom state as a result of the insecurity situation and the Joint military operation conducted on Tuesday to flush out the criminal elements camped in the area.
Chairman of Essien Udim Council, Mr Anthony Luke, according to a statement obtained by Vanguard on Thursday in Uyo, said the displaced persons are from twelve (12) communities of the local government area.
Luke in the statement listed nine (9) communities seriously affected by the security situation in the area to include Ntak Ikot Akpan, Ukana Uwa, Ikot Udo Ekpat, Ikot Otu, Ikot Afangna, Nto Nsek, Ikot Abia, Ikot Ankan, Ikot Ukpong Etor, Ikot Ada Utor, Nsasak, and Ikot Akpan Essiet.
He disclosed that the displaced persons from those villages are currently taking refuge at three places in Ikot Ekpene local government area, namely St Ann Catholic Cathedral, Ikot Ekpene, the Civic Centre Atan, Ikot Okoro and St Brigid Parish, Urua Akpan.
His words ”In the past few weeks, a dangerous criminal gang launched attacks on various security facilities which led to the loss of lives of security personnel in the area. Their activities such as extortion, intimidation, robbery, and abuse of fundamental human rights of the people degenerated to a point that people were living in fear.
“The nefarious activities of these hoodlums have caused the displacement of our people who fled their homes for safety as lives and property were no longer safe.
“Again, the military operations also sent shivers through the spines of the people, who for fear of being caught up in the cross-fires, are displaced. We have about 5000 of them that have been displaced.
”I have visited the displaced persons to encourage them, give them hope and assure them that they will be catered for. We sympathize with them over what has befallen them, especially this planting season as our people are predominantly farmers. It is unfortunate”.
The Council Chairman expressed deep gratitude to the Catholic Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese, Dr Camillus Umoh for his magnanimity towards the people’s at such a trying time.
He commiserated with the families of Security agents who lost their lives as a result of the attacks on them by the hoodlums and described the development as regrettable and sad.
”The Bishop has not only graciously offered accommodation in the Catholic Cathedral for the displaced persons, but has also promised to partner the Council in taking care of the people until it is safe for them to return home.
”The Council and indeed the state government are working assiduously to ensure normalcy in the communities so that the displaced persons can return to their homes soon
” We remain resolute and committed to the fight against criminality in the area, and we will not stop until Essien Udim is safe for everyone”, Luke assured