The battle for 2015 in Akwa Ibom has assumed a deadly dimension.
An Akwa Ibom state senator, Aloysius Eyok, has accused the state governor, Godswill Akpabio, of threatening to assassinate him within a week for daring to insist on retaining his senatorial seat which Mr. Akpabio has declared interest for in 2015.
The senator said at a news briefing weekend that Mr. Akpabio has unleashed his “hit squad” on him, with threatening text messages advising him to renounce his ambition for another term, or be targeted in seven days.
“I want the governor to tell Nigerians and the international community if there is anything wrong in any man aspiring to contest for an office,” Mr. Etok asked.
“Is that enough for the governor to instruct the council chairmen to say that if I don’t withdraw from the contest, that they will recall me? He asked the state of assembly to pass resolution that they will recall me, to the extent that members of the house of assembly came on television to insult and malign me.”
“Not only that, the governor has now loosen his hit squad, including what I have on this phone some text messages that if I don’t retract the statement that I will contest election, after seven days, I will see what they will do.”
He said the governor also instructed “different groups that if I don’t retract the statement within seven days, I will either be dead to stop me or alive to retract the statement.”
Mr. Akpabio dismissed the allegations as “paranoid, deceitful, baseless and mere hallucinations that serves no purpose whatsoever.”
A statement by the state commissioner for information, Anieka Umanah, said Mr. Akpabio is a “God fearing and peace loving man, and has never and will never contemplate evil against anyone let alone, his brother and friend, Senator Aloysius Etok”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Akpabio has no hit squad and has never been after the life of any citizen of the state,”Mr. Umanah said.
Mr. Etok came to limelight weeks ago after the embattled governor openly confessed to rigging party polls to allow Mr. Etok emerge as the winner for the senatorial seat, sparking national outrage.
Mr. Etok denied the claim, and said he emerged through a transparent process. In subsequent media interviews, Mr. Akpabio, claimed he was misquoted and that the media frenzy over the story, first published by PREMIUM TIMES, was politically motivated.
The governor later declared his interest to assume a senatorial seat after his term in 2015, a seat currently occupied by Mr. Etok, in what appears to be the actual motive for his video declaration.
Mr. Etok said while the controversy over the claimed rigging had been resolved, the governor repeatedly told fellow senators that they were his future colleagues; and on one occasion, he mockingly said Mr. Etok will serve as his campaign manager to the senate.
The senator said he only responded at an interview recently by saying the governor never consulted him on his ambition, and that he will never relinquish same.
“The producer then asked what I want to do now that the governor wants to take my position. I told him that the governor has not consulted me,” he said referring to an interview he granted in Akwa Ibom state. “However, if am sitting on a seat and somebody is coming to remove me without consultation, I will hold on to the seat even if the seat want to break.”
Since making the comments, a faction of the state House of Assembly passed a resolution deriding Mr. Etok, and warning him that only an Akpabio candidature to the senate will be supported tin 2015.
“I want the Nigerian public to say which of these statement was an insult to the governor that he and his people said I have dared the governor for saying I will contest election.”
“That if what happened during my second term struggle that as soon as they knew I was going to contest, my wife was kidnapped. After the release of my wife, my mother in law was kidnapped.
“When she was released, she died because of the torture she received in the hands of the kidnappers. As a result of that my father in law died out the heart break. Therefore, I also want Nigerians to ask Governor Akpabio what I have done to him. I have not done anything to him. I want all of you, like I am going to send a petition to the President, to ask Governor Akpabio to let me be. That his hit squad which he has resurrected should let me live. If anything happens to me, I want the world to know that Governor Akpabio is after my life.”
Editor’s note: The original story has been updated to reflect the Akwa Ibom state government’s response.