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Former Court President, Accident Victim In Exile As Land Grabbers Wreck Havoc in Ukanafun, Nigeria



*By Ofonime Honesty

In the village of Nkek Abak, Ukanafun Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, a disturbing trend of land grabbing and violence has emerged, perpetuated by individuals who brag about connections to power.

The most recent victim of this impunity is Owoideghe Samuel John, a vulcanizer who suffered a devastating accident in 2019, leaving him with spinal cord damage and a broken leg.

Owoideghe is an orphan who left the village to fend for himself in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as a teenager.

While working as a vulcanizer, an ugly incident occured to him: while repairing a faulty tyre of a tipper truck, the screw jack used in raising the vehicle shifted, leading to the entire weight of the truck falling on him.

He was trapped under the vehicle for hours. When he was finally pulled out, he had sustained a spinal cord damage and a broken leg.

Rumour went viral that he had died during the accident.

Stuck in Port Harcourt, with no help to proceed for a surgery worth about 13 Million Naira, according to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Owoideghe was moved back to Akwa Ibom State.

Upon returning to Akwa Ibom, he met a shocker: his family’s house was razed down and the entire location used for farming.

A certain Mr. Okon Udo Akpaneyen, his first son, Akpan Okon Udo, and the Central Youth Council Chairman, Ufok Abraham Akpaneyen, allegedly razed the house, cut down economic trees, and sold the property to Mr. Mfon Akpaneyen, despite Owoideghe being the sole surviving member of his family and the rightful owner of the land.

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Diaspora Digital Media understands that the contentious land is actually an inheritance if Owoideghe’s family for several generations.
Owoideghe’s father, mother and five other members of the family were buried there.

A concerned indigene, former district court president and village head contestant, Chief Abraham Bassey Emmanuel, petitioned the police on behalf of Owoideghe but has also faced threats and attacks from the perpetrators.

The suspects were arrested but later released.

Both men have been forced into hiding, fearing for their lives.

This reporter, on separate occasions, traced the duo to their respective hideouts.

Meeting Owoideghe was a very difficult task as he is wary of the real motive of anyone who intends to meet with him.

My guide had to spend ample time reassuring him of the genuineness of my intention before he granted consent for the interview.

He narrated: “as you may have heard and as you can see, I have been bedridden since July 2019. Life has been extremely difficult for me since then due to the accident occurred to me. The full weight of the tipper truck fell on me, breaking my spinal cord and my left leg, and I have been incapacitated ever since.

“The (perpetrators) heard that I had died in the accident was what made them take over the family’s property since I am the only surviving member in that family. My father, mother and about five other members of our family were buried on that land.

“Prior to when rumour went viral that I had died, no one had ever come out to lay claim to the land and the house that stood on it. They have now totally demolished the house. The house has never been in dispute. The community can attest to this.”

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He appealed to security agencies to wade into situation by securing him and also restraining those laying claim to his inheritance.

The victim when asked if the perpetrators had purchased the said land from any member of his family, answered “no.”

He also appealed to the Akwa Ibom State Government, the media, philanthropists and members of the public to come to his aid.

Chief Abraham Bassey Emmanuel, while also speaking to this reporter in his hideout, confirmed that his safety has been compromised since he facilitated the arrest of the suspects in January 2023.

“They violently attacked me on the day the arrest was carried out. They continued attacking me even after they were released.

“Since then, the police has not bothered visiting the village or even have a look at the victim who has been in hiding outside the community for several years now.

“I am telling you that Nkek Abak is not safe for me and Owoideghe.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council, has called on the Nigeria Police Force, Akwa Ibom State Command, to investigate and prosecute such human rights violations.

The Union made the demand during its Congress on Thursday, June 27, 2024, and captured it in a communiqué.

NUJ expressed concern over the police’s inaction on the matter since it was first petitioned on January 30, 2023, by Chief Abraham Emmanuel.

According to the Union, “Nkek Abak is notorious for human rights violations, including kidnapping, child trafficking, and rape.”

“The union is concerned that the community’s actions are emboldened by their connections to people in power who can influence government decisions.

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The communique acknowledged that “the victim has lived on the property without any contention for decades, even after his parents and siblings passed away” adding that “the culprits allegedly incubated the idea of claiming ownership after hearing about Mr. Owoidighe John’s accident.”

The union demanded “justice for the victim and urged the police to absolve itself of any complicity in the matter by ensuring a thorough investigation and prosecution of the culprits.”

When this reporter visited Nkek Abak thrice for an interaction with the suspects, he met their absence despite being officially invited beforehand.

Owoideghe Samuel John can be reached on 08052652838.
His Bank Account Details are 3095067433, Wisdom Samuel John, First Bank Plc.

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