An Abuja-based group, Akwa Ibom Rescue Forum, has blamed the outgoing governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, over the death of Ime Umana, a foremost philanthropist and business mogul from the state.
Mr. Umana, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, died in an auto crash on Monday while returning to Lagos after attending a court session in Uyo.
But the group’s Coordinator, Leo Ekpenyong, said Mr. Umana would not have died but for the protracted politically-motivated court case between him (Umana) and the outgoing governor.
Mr. Ekpenyong, who is also a legal practitioner, said Akwa Ibom people are devastated by the demise of the frontline philanthropist and business mogul. and friend of the less-privileged.
He, therefore, blamed Mr. Akpabio for what he described as the “immediate and remote” cause of the philanthropist’s death.
“On behalf of Akwa Ibom Rescue Forum, we wish to express our displeasure, anger as well as chagrin with the remote and immediate cause of the death of this politician.
“I must say here that the spate of political persecution in the state as far back 2007 till date is worrisome.
“It should be recalled that sometimes in 2010; Mr. Umana was reported to security operatives for alleged involvement in the planned kidnapping of Godswill Akpabio,” he said.
“We were surprised to learn of the effrontery of a private individual to kidnap a sitting governor in Nigeria.
“However, Mr. Umana was arrested and detained. On one of our visits to him while in detention, he told of us of the nasty and excruciating experience he went through in the hands of security operatives.
“He told us of how his cell was fumigated with gaseous substance that affected his respiratory system. He was eventually prosecuted.”
While the offence for which Mr. Umana was charged is bailable, Mr.
Ekpenyong said the outgoing governor prevailed on the former Chief Judge of the state, Idongesit Ntem Isua, not to grant the accused bail.
According to him, Mrs. Isua stood her ground and granted bail to Mr. Umana but with a condition he must appear personally anytime the case is heard.
Even with his age and the stringent condition attached to the bail, he said the septuagenarian subjected himself to the rigours of a politically-motivated criminal trial.
“Subjecting a man of that age and status in the society to the excruciating rigours of criminal trial most especially when it was politically motivated is callous to say the least,” Mr. Ekpenyong maintained.
Mr. Ekpenyong noted that the outgoing governor had used the immense power of his office to harass his political opponents and bring untold hardship on them.
He listed the victims to include a former Board Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Sam Edem, former Secretary to the State Government and APC governorship candidate, Umana Okon Umana, and former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, James Udoedehe, among others.
“Mr. Umana met his untimely death while returning to Lagos after attending the court session to answer trumped up charges Mr. Akpabio brought against him. Won’t it therefore, be appropriate to say Godswill Akpabio is responsible for his death?” he asked.
Governor Akpabio’s spokesperson, Aniekan Umanah, did not answer or return calls seeking comments for this story.