I am not a kidnapper, says 90- year-old Cross River chief

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By Nsa Gill, Calabar

A traditional leader and Head of the Ikot Offiong Ambi clan in Akpabuyo local government area of Cross River, Etinyin Effiom Eyo Okon, has denied having anything to do with kidnappers.

The 90- year- old chief also described allegations and media reports he, his wife and son were arrested on April 25, 2021, by a Special security task force of the State Government code-named “Operation Akpakwu” for kidnapping as false.

He claimed he lost his 43-room bungalow housing historical documents and many personal effects valued at over N250million to demolition by the task force, which he said was based on false allegations.

In a petition by his lawyer Eno T. Offiong Esq of Chancery Associates and addressed to Governor Ben Ayade, he said he was not keeping or training kidnappers.

Parts of the petition dated April 28, 2021, read: “It is our instruction that in spite of the clearance by Operation Akpakwu, to our client’s amazement, another team of Operation Akpakwu without justification went to our client’s premises with cans of petrol on the 25th of April 2021, invaded the premises, demolished the structures and set the place ablaze. They were done without justifiable reason. Our client is not a kidnapper. He is also not keeping or training kidnappers.

“By virtue of his position, he is the custodian of the custom and tradition of his people. It is his responsibility to maintain law and order in his community and not to identify with anything which is contrary to the laws of Cross River State in particular and Nigeria in general.

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“We are aware that our client has a civil case against some persons over the community land at Ekpene Tete and the case is currently on appeal in the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division in Appeal N0: CA/C/216/2017.

“We are of the view that these persons are in league with some ignoble government officials which His Excellency may not be aware of”.

The petition noted the nonagenarian ruler of his stature should have been invited and confronted with the evidence against him if any.

He urged the Governor to cause an independent body to investigate the matter.

The traditional ruler told The Nation one of his sons not living with him committed a crime allegedly in 2017 in Calabar and was arrested and has been in prison custody since then.

His words: “They have not said it is because of the crime allegedly committed by my son that they came to do what they have done to me.

“They are acting on false information given to them by people who are fighting me. They did not see any group of kidnappers or anything for them to claim that I was harboring kidnappers. The 43 rooms’ bungalow was built by my grandfather.”

One of the two Security Advisers in Southern Senatorial district to Ayade, Elder Henry Okokon, agreed the Chief was not in detention.

He stated Operation Akpakwu had handed him over to the Police but if he has petitioned the Governor over the incident, Ayade will treat it with the utmost sense of responsibility.

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