The Akwa Ibom State Government has set up a panel to investigate the alleged killings of three brothers by a team of policemen and operatives of the State Security Service.The three siblings Charles, Emmanuel and Joseph Akpabio –were allegedly killed on March 25, 2012, by the security operatives in controversial circumstances.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Etim Dickson, said, “If a committee has been set up, we are not to talk about it. It is just like a matter that is already in court, you cannot begin to write about it.” However, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, confirmed the setting up of the panel and advised all parties to cooperate with it. Although security operatives did not give details of how the siblings were killed, they said the slain men were armed robbers.
But some indigenes of Mbente in Ini Local Government Area of the state, said the siblings had legitimate businesses and that their killings were politically-motivated. One of them, Mr. Joseph Michael Umoette, said the killings could be traced to the contention between the village and its neighbours over the land where the dam is sited. He recalled that the indigenes of the community had been harassed by their neighbours, especially on the only road leading to the village.
He said the community had sent out three “Save Our Souls” letters to the government on the alleged incessant attacks by its neighbour, adding that the Deputy Governor, Mr. Nsima Ekere, convened a meeting between the community and its neighbours last year on the issue. Umoette said, “The late Joseph Akpabio was a cocoa farmer; he had machines and boys working for him on his cocoa farm. Charles worked with a shipping company. He wasn’t staying in the village. He was on a visit when the incident happened.”
“We have evidence to prove that the land in contention is ours. We were expecting them to take the matter to court so that the dispute can be settled through legal means.” Meanwhile, 75-year-old mother of the siblings, Mrs. Atim Akpabio, said she had no faith that the killers of her children would be found. Atim, who spoke with PUNCH Metro in Mbente on Saturday, said her children were killed over the ownership of a dam in the area. She said the killings also resulted in the depression and eventual death of her daughter, adding that her husband, Chief Esesien Akpabio, was also traumatised by the incident. She said although she heard that the state government had set up a panel to look into the incident, she wondered why the panel had not visited the family since it was set up.
The septuagenarian said, “No government representative has visited us. Some government officials came to the neighbouring village and those that came here only came to arrest people. Those that came here did not speak to us. I saw them loitering around my house. “This village has always been living peacefully with its neighbours. On several occasions when our women and youths were attacked without any provocation, we never retaliated. My husband always restrains the youth from retaliating. The death of my sons has greatly crushed my dreams of seeing them excel in life.”