Naval Jungle Justice: Ibaka youths spoil for war

...call for govt intervention *as OYC moves for legal battle

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Youths of Ibaka community in Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom State are spoiling for war in revenge for “undue killings” of their people allegedly perpetrated by officers of the Nigerian Navy, Forward Operation Base, Ibaka.

The youths are going berserk following the recent death of one Anthony Okon Ante who was reportedly “brutally murdered” by the Naval officers on Saturday, June 13, 2020 on alleged case of stealing.

Speaking on the matter, a youth activist in the community, Comrade Ezekiel Effiong said the Navy, FOB, Ibaka had “abandoned their primary duty of protecting the waterways and combating crimes by sea pirates and militants”, only to unleash mayhem on civilians in the area.

According to him, the late Anthony Ante from Ibuot Ikot community of Ibaka, who was in his early 20s, “working with the FOB until his gruesome murder” and accused of stealing a generator from the Officers’ Mess, “was the sixth civilian killed by the Navy, while others suffered severe injuries.

Mr. Effiong called on relevant law enforcement authorities to fetch out perpetrators of the crime and bring them to justice, while the FOB should also reach out to the deceased family for adequate compensation.

Bassey Uyu of Oro-Obolo Youth Coalition recalled an episode sometime in the past, where the Navy fired a shot at a taxi driver for not paying a tollgate, and that of 2015 where the FOB “on rampage, released bullets on citizens” which killed “a good number of people, including a pregnant woman.”

He explained that late Anthony Ante who was rescued by the villagers from eight officers of the Nigeria Navy on Saturday, June 13, and later handed over to them same day, with the hope that they would handle the said case of stealing properly, was seen dead by the early hours of Sunday, June 14, 2020.

In a press statement on Wednesday, June 17, Bassey Uyu who solicited the solidarity of the Oro-Obolo Youth Coalition, called on the Nigerian Police and the Akwa Ibom State government to immediately step into the matter to avert untold reactions.

In his briefing, the Base Commander, Captain P. G. Yulme admitted that the boy died in their custody.

P. G. Yulme stated that Anthony Ante who breached security and had his way into the Base was not shot at, but “slumped and later died.”

The Commander stated this while narrating the incident to the Member, Mbo State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Effiong Johnson who was there to get their side of the story.

“It is rather unfortunate that somebody died. Nobody prays or plans to kill anybody. We are here for the people. Your people don’t like us. We have been shot at on several occasions, but that doesn’t stop us from providing the necessary security to the people, which is our primary duty here in Ibaka.

“It is rather unfortunate that he died. He breached the security and had his way into the base unauthorized. Be that as it may, he was not shot at. It was during interrogation that he slumped and later died”, Yulme said.

Mr Effiong Johnson who received briefing from the Naval Commander that the issue has been settled with the family and the village, further addressed youths of the community, after confirming same from the village authority.

Village Head of Ibuot Ikot, Chief Okon Omoh had informed the lawmaker and his entourage of newsmen that the Naval Base had also signed an undertaking that no such thing would ever happen in Ibaka.

But the Vice President, Oro-Obolo Youth Coalition, Comrade Joseph Antai is not willing to give anything to chance as he believes the matter would continue if not confronted headlong.

Oro-Obolo Youth Coalition is a pan ethnicity pressure group in it’s territorial coastal region’s of Akwa Ibom State, Rivers State and Abia State, comprising the Obolo National ethnicity of Andoni Obolo, Eastern Obolo, Ibeno, Mbo, Okobo, Udung Uko, Urue Offong-Oruko and Oron local government areas.

Accordingly, Comrade Antai revealed that he was putting finishing touches to unleashing legal fire works on the Naval Base so that such inhumanity may be squarely addressed.

Asked whether he has the losuc standi to pursue a legal action on the matter, since the family and village head seems to have reached an understanding, Comrade Antai stated that the brutal killings of innocent civilians were not only suffered by the family members or Ibuot Ikot natives.

He said “the perpetual loss of lives of Ibaka and Oron people to the cruelty of the Navy can affect anyone” which is why “the youths and future leaders of the community must not fold their hands while evil thrives.”

Thanking Chief Effiong Johnson for his quick intervention, especially in calming the nerves of the youths, who were still boiling for a revenge, Antai insisted that it was the right time to rise to the challenge.

Reacting to the tragedy, a legal practitioner, Cyprian Afahaeme Esq explained that such unusual death is suspicious but could possibly be true as there were people who could be affected by one thing or the other and become unusually apprehensive on seeing security personnel.

Cyprain Afahaeme believed that the best way to determine the veracy of the matter was to conduct an autopsy on the dead body to show whether he was tortured, after which the naval officers directly involved should be dismissed from service and handed over to the police for prosecution.

“That is a clear case of murder. This time, it is not against a fellow paramilitary personnel where those involved should be court marshaled. It is against a civilian and the law is clear on the matter.

“Appropriate steps must be taken if justice is to be done on the matter. If the autopsy shows that Anthony Ante was killed by torture from Naval officials, the internal mechanism of the force has to dismiss them outright.

Meanwhile, the executive chairman of Mbo local government area, Hon. Asukwo Eyo said the Navy had admitted that the boy slumped on a stone and died during interrogations.

Asukwo Eyo who said he was there with the village youth president, further revealed that the dead body of Anthony Ante was in the mortuary and that the autopsy had been concluded.

Although the Mbo chief security officer, did not reveal the result of the autopsy to National Newstrack, he pointed out that both the Naval Base and the deceased family had already settled the matter.

The chairman stated that he also approached the divisional police officer of the area, who denied knowledge of the development.

In his reaction, the Police Public Relations Officer, Akwa Ibom State Command, CSP Fredrick Nnudam said on Sunday, June 21, that the force was ignorant of the development.

“I am just knowing this now. The family should report it to the police. We need to be properly informed”, he said.

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