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Alleged cross border looting triggers war of words between Akwa Ibom, Cross River

Cross River

Allegations of cross border looting by the Cross River government against protesting youths said to be from Akwa Ibom State have triggered a war of words between the two sister states, according to statements issued in Calabar and Uyo respectively.

Akwa Ibom and Cross River states recorded massive looting by protesters who in addition set many buildings on fire in the capital of the two states but that of Calabar is said to have been unprecedented with the entire office of The Nigerian Chronicle, published by the Cross River government burnt down during the protest.

According to findings, the protesters broke into The Nigerian Chronicle office along Barracks road in Calabar after finding out that it was serving as the storage centre for the state emergency management agency’s office housing relief materials as well as palliatives donated to the state government by the federal government.

Consequently, the building was set ablaze with several cars including that of the editor in chief, Sam Egbala who had parked his car in the company’s premises while making use of his official vehicle.

READ ALSO: #ENDSARS Protest: Nigeria;s $460bn GDP threatened as looting, destruction of businesses dotted Southwest

In a statement in Calabar, monitored in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the Police Public Relations Officer, Cross River police command, DSP Irene Ukpo alleged that the perpetrators of the “dastardly acts of looting and arson that occurred in Cross River state capital, Calabar came from Akwa Ibom.’’

According to her, the state government’s position was arrived at after a comprehensive review of existing evidence by security agencies in Cross River State, the statement added.

Furthermore, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State in a broadcast alleged that “some people came through the waters in a chartered boat into the state.”

But describing the statement as “manifestly untrue and misleading,’’ the Akwa Ibom government stated that the attacks on public and private property in Calabar could not have been carried out by people who were transported from Akwa Ibom State.

Ini Ememobong, commissioner for information and strategy who signed the statement said there was no such transportation of hoodlums by water, from Akwa Ibom to Cross River state as claimed by some fake reports.

“There is a clear difference between an act committed by non-indigenes residents and that committed by people who are visiting for the purpose of committing crime.

“The statement by the PPRO paints a picture that the hoodlums left Akwa Ibom for Cross River to commit the crime – this is false as both naval ships and other security agencies within the jurisdiction can attest that there was no such movement.

Continuing, he said, “we are deeply concerned about such a careless statement by a police officer as it has the capacity to create strife between the sister states. Moreover, we are also conscious that the now dreaded and globally condemned xenophobia has its origin in such negative indiscretions.

“We hereby restate here and for the records that no hoodlums were loaded and transported in boats from Akwa Ibom to Cross River as claimed by some reports and that the people who wrecked the senseless carnage in Calabar, did not go from Akwa Ibom state to commit the crime,’’ he said.