By Frank Inyang
The dust and the sound of war which rocked Bakassi LGA for two days might have settled but its traumatic and devastating effects , though equally embarrassing, will ever remain as scars which will not be forgotten. Both public and private properties were vandalized, ransacked or torched thereby leaving its trailing an unexplainable excuse.
The Chairman of Bakassi Local Government Area, Hon Chief Iyadim Amboni Iyadim, undertook an on the spot assessment of damaged properties in the area caused by hoodlums under the guise of ENDSARS Protest to ascertain the level of destruction. He was accompanied by the Leader of Council Hon Pastor Emmanuel Michael Effiong, the Vice Chairman, Hon Etieka Mrs Lawrencia Ita, Councilors ,Secretary of Council Hon Eyo Bassey, Supervisors, the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Projects Monitoring and Evaluation Mr Julius Kijour, the Head of Local Government Administration HOLGA Elder Paul Agboche, heads of department Bakassi Local Government Council, and the immediate past Chapter Chairman of PDP Bakassi Local Government Area , Sir Gerald Esin.
The first port of call was the Ayade Social Resettlement Estate, Ifang Ayong built by the state government for the resettlement of displaced people of Bakassi LGA who lost their ancestral homes following the ceding of parts of the area to Cameroon. Each of the 52 housing units in the estate had its fittings, furniture and furnishings ripped off and carted away. So it was with kitchen and toilet wares including electrical appliances.
An occupant, Mr Okokon Ita while briefing the Chairman said the invaders wore military and paramilitary uniforms, brandished weapons and chanted war songs as they moved from one house to another wrecking havoc Apart from ripping the housing units bare , they also vandalized the transformer, generator and solar propelled street lights and carted away vital accessories. Bassey Edem Orok, an occupant of House 16, who was injured while trying to protect his property, said other occupants fled when the vandals arrived in droves shooting in the air.
Evidence showed that the invading vandals were not selective in their approach as they plundered any government social amenities on their path. Primary Health Centres were not spared as ambulances were ruptured and parts carted away, medicine, beds and beddings, and medical equipment were either removed or taken away. Borehole and accessories including overhead tanks and solar panels were looted and carted away..
Supervisor- Health and Social Services ,Ms Sandra Okon Effiong observed that Immunization exercises in the affected communities of Ifiang Ayong, Ifiang Nsung and Abakpa will face challenges and set backs to government intention of fighting infant mortality resulting from the vandalization of health centres. Some primary and post primary schools in Ifiang Ayong and Ifiang Nsung were dastardly vandalized. A school built by Border Communities Development Agency BCDA, and another renovated by Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC were massively ransacked and learning aids carted away. Government Secondary School, Ifiang Ayong had its computer laboratory containing 32 computers and and accessories mercilessly looted. Other items carted away from the school include ceilings, roofing sheets, toilet wares, floor tiles, solar panels, door/window frames. Desks, books, stools and book shelves were also carried away.
Reacting, the Supervisor – Education, Youths and Sports, Ms Nkese Akpandem Ita, wondered why communities could descend so low to wreck havoc on schools domiciled in their domains which will in turn affect the academic growth of pupils and students adversely
The Chairman and his entourage visited the Village Head of Ifiang Qua clan, Etinyin Okokon Idem, who disclosed that as an ex-servise man and a war veteran,he had never seen such a level of devastation as over 100 youth ravaged the area for no just cause. He, however, expressed that a town crier had been mobilize to call on those involved to return their loots or a traditional application would be enforced.
Individuals also had their private investments vandalized and valuables carted away. Saint Mary Hotel and Conference owned by the Paramount Ruler of Bakassi LGA and Chairman Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council ,HRM Etinyin Dr Etim Okon Edet, had its facilities and equipment either damaged or carted away. The country home of a one time Chairman of Bakassi LGA and currently the area’s representative in State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Dr Ekpo Ekpo Bassey was maliciously burgled and many things destroyed.
The only financial institution in the area, Ekondo Microfinance Bank, owned by Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong, had everything within sight destroyed. These include door/ window and frames, roofing sheets, ceilings, furniture as stationery were scattered around.
Bakassi LGA is an international border town with detatchments of the Nigerian Customs Service and Nigerian Immigration Service stationed at Ikang . Their offices and barracks were completely burnt down. Two worshipping places, a church and a mosque, located within the vicinity were not spared as they had their share of vandalization. The Secretary of Council, Hon Eyo Bassey, described the attacks on the sacred places as uncalled for and senseless.
The Divisional Police Station , a distance from the council Secretariat was not spared as it was thoroughly ransacked and everything in sight, set blaze. The DCO, ASP Neji Simon, said an unprovoked mob attacked the station, killed a police officer and set the station ablaze destroying all official documents as well as vehicles parked within the premises, adding that the destruction has been documented and sent to the police headquarters for attention.
The Bakassi Local Government Council Secretariat which on September 9, 2020 made history as the first Smart Local Government Council in Nigeria had such an amazing record reduced to nothing. The office was heavily invaded, ransacked and every furniture, fittings and furnishings carted away. The chairman’s digital office installed with internet and electric facilities, executive furniture had every item looted.
The renovated 67 kva power generator which had hitherto been unfunctional for years , was vandalized. Digitization facilities like WiFi and CCTV cameras were all taken aware.The renovated Legislative Chamber had all its trappings including mace and other paraphernalia vandalized and looted thereby leaving it bare.
.The Leader of Council, Hon Pastor Emmanuel Michael Effiong, while addressing the press in the empty office,said the havoc was enormous, disheartening as he was confused because he never expected such a level of destruction from the people who voted them into office. He explained that as the sixth legislative in the area, both the Legislature and executive were determined to make the area a befitting place.
Effiong called for assistance from both the federal government and International donor agencies because Bakassi has become a front line of war, adding that the level of destruction has not been witnessed in the area before
The Chairman of Bakassi LGA, Hon Chief Iyadim Amboni Iyadim, concluded the inspection with a solemn assembly at the council Secretariat to thank God as no Council staff died while the vandalization lasted.Iyadim expressed dismay that all that was put in place to mark his first hundred days in office has been reduced and quoting his address from Psalm one, he said God will direct the council accordingly as he would not resume work at the Secretariat so long as it is located at the present premises .
The Chairman said all that took him months to put in place in view of lean resources has been destroyed in one day and he appealed assistance to enable the council repair the damage as well as build a new befitting 21st century Secretariat by the highway.
On the heavily vandalized Ayade Social Resettlement Estate, he said everything has been sent ten steps as the project was solely undertaken by the state government with no assistance from anywhere
The Senior Special Adviser to the governor on Projects Monitoring and Evaluation Mr Julius Kijour, who on the chairman’s entourage, said as a youth he supported the ENDSARS Protest but was against the destruction properties which had taken years to build and called on elders and youth of Bakassi LGA to ensure all that was looted was returned
The Vice Chairman Hon, Hon Etieka Mrs Lawrencia Ita, said she was scared and tongue tied when got wind of what happened as all those things it took the council to rehabilitate in three months were reduced to rubbles, stressing that the Chairman had ploughed in from lean resources to renovate rehabilitate the council .
According to Ita, the miracles which people saw within the first hundred days in office were within a twinkle of an eye reduced to zero level and she, however, that God should forgive those involved in the vandalization and make them have a change of heart and return looted items