Unknown gunmen have unleashed a fresh attack in Akwa Ibom State killing about 12 cows and setting an INEC office on fire.
According to a report made available to 9News Nigeria correspondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Afaha Ikot Ebak, the headquarters of the Essien Udim Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State, was set on fire by suspected gunmen.
9News Nigeria gathered that some armed hoodlums on motorcycles launched the attack at about 3:00 AM early Sunday morning after defying the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on Essien Udim and other adjoining local government areas of Ikot Ekpene by the Akwa Ibom State Government.
According to the report, the assailants also launched another vicious attack on herdsmen killing at least 12 cows that were said to be grazing near a creek.
It was gathered that the hoodlums fled the scene to an undisclosed location after shooting the cows and that the herdsmen also flee the scene as well and alerted the security agencies who swiftly arrived but met the absence of the unknown gunmen.
A source who spoke to news reporters in anonymity said that the soldiers arrived in large numbers from the 6 Battalion, Ibagwa in Abak Local Government Area, but met the absence of the unknown gunmen who had already fled the scene the way they came.
However, the soldiers arrested some of the locals who went to the scene to vandalise the killed cows and took them to the military camp for further investigation.
”The soldiers who arrived in large numbers were said to have captured and taken them away to account for the death of cows,” the source recalled.
Mr. Don Etukudoh, the Director in-charge of Public Affairs at INEC’s Akwa Ibom State headquarters, confirmed the arson on the Essien Udim Office, but said he had yet to determine the motive of the arsonists.
“Yes, I can confirm that our Essien Udim office was destroyed by fire. We haven’t gotten any specifics yet,” he said, assuring that once he’s been properly briefed, he’ll be able to provide more information.
Mr Anthony Luke, the Chairman of the Essien Udim Local Government Area, characterized the incident as unfortunate, given the fact that the local government area has recently become a hotbed of cult warfare, with security agencies such as the Police, Customs, and Army, as well as government institutions, being the prime targets.
Last month, the hoodlums were attacked at their base in Ntak Ikot Akpan, Essien Udim, by a military operation that included land and aerial bombardments.
Mr Anthony Luke holds the opinion that the survivors of the assault may have regrouped to resume unleashing mayhem in the state.
“It is true that hoodlums destroyed the INEC office in my Local Government Area. I have no idea who they are, what they want, or why they are acting so violently. Only the intelligence forces who have been on top of the situation will be able to figure out why these attacks have occurred. Herdsmen were also targeted by the hoodlums,” Mr Luke said.
He also speculated that he believed that those herdsmen were taking their cows near where they launched the assault.”
An unsuccessful call to confirm the incident was put to Police Superintendent, Odiko MaCdon who is the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO). However, his colleague at the state headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia has said that he might be in the Church or with the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Amiengheme Andrew, inspecting the incident scene.