A scandalous controversy is brewing in Akwa Ibom State, over an allegation that a local council chairman had administered fetish oath to extract loyalty from his political supporters.
One person is said to have died as the result of the oath known as ‘mbiam’ in the local language.
The council chairman, Israel Idaisin, who heads Ini Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, has, however, dismissed the allegation as “political attack”.
He accused the Commissioner of Agriculture in the state, Glory Edet, who hails from Ini, of “sponsoring the attack” against him.
In a trending clip on some WhatsApp groups, a former councillor in Ini, Ubong George said Mr Idaisin paid him and others to administer the oath to some of his supporters prior to his first term election in 2017.
The video showed a swollen leg of an unnamed man said to be suffering from the effect of the oath.
The man’s face was not shown in the video.
Mr George told PREMIUM TIMES that the man in the trending video is “Elder Nkwoko”.
He said it was the man who prepared and administered the oath, and that he later died. He, however, refused to mention the morgue where he said the man’s corpse was deposited.
Mr George said the council chairman had abandoned his supporters since 2017.
“I have been loyal to him since 2017. During his first term election as council chairman, he sent us to converge about 35 people to be sure that those people will stand by him. Some of them were delegates, some were ordinary supporters who are strong men from our ward.
“In order to convince him that those people are his people, we had to administer mbiam to be sure those people will stand by him. He gave some money for us to convince those people to take that oath,” he said.
The chairman, he said, had refused to come to the village to perform some traditional rites that could help defuse the effect of the oath.
He said the chairman rather held a meeting with the “boys” whom they administered the oath to and gave them N100,00 each.
“We asked him why he called the boys without calling those that administered the oath to them, he sent his boys to threaten us that he is going to get us arrested.
“As I am talking to you, I am not in my house. I am hiding in the bush because of the police he sent to Ini to arrest us,” Mr George said.
PREMIUM TIMES spoke with a PDP youth leader in the area, Titus Charlie, and another former councillor in Ini, Emmanuel Udoh, both said Mr George’s story was true.
They admitted that they were among those who administered the oath.
The council chairman, Mr Idaisin told PREMIUM TIMES the stories were “completely false”.
He said the allegation was a “political blackmail” against him “sponsored” by the commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Edet.
“The House of Assembly member (Emmanuel Ekpenyong) and the commissioner supported me during my election and both are aspiring for the House of Representatives. I have said that I am going to be neutral because the two of them supported me.
“But the commissioner is saying that I can’t say that because, according to her, she was the one who stood up for me when the governor did not want me. I told her I can’t endorse her yet. So she started this blackmail. Where will it take her to?
“She thinks that blackmailing me will give her the ticket. Let her win and show me then. So the allegation is purely a political blackmail,” he said.
Mrs Edet, who is the dean of College of Commissioners in Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, is one of the longest serving commissioners, having served in the administration of former governor Godswill Akpabio.
The administration of fetish oaths to get political support has been a traditional practice over the years in Akwa Ibom politics.
Governor Emmanuel has repeatedly condemned the practice as being ungodly.
PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately get Mrs Edet’s comment for this report as the commissioner did not respond to calls and a text message from our reporter.
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