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N1. 2m Saga Against Glory Edet: The Allegation, the Fact

By Ekemini Simon

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It is no more news. The allegation is all over the newspapers, radio and social media. According to Ekerette Udoakpan, a person who unfortunately is physically challenged , the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Agriculture, Dr Glory Edet must pay her the sum of N1.2 million she is ‘owing’ him or hell will let loose.

What happened? How would a serving Commissioner known by many for humanitarian deeds be indebted to a physically challenged person, who should rather be helped? What was really the scenario that brought this allegation against the university Don who is the Dean of Commissioners in Akwa Ibom State? These are some of the intriguing questions in the pubic domain.

Ekerette Udoakpan had narrated his story thus:

Mr Ekerette Udoakpan, who is the International President of a Non-Governmental Organization, NGO, Brightway Evangelical Initiative, BEI says his organization on December 20, 2013 had in collaboration with the entire Community of Persons Living with Disabilities in Akwa Ibom State paid a visit to the Hilltop Mansion, an occasion designed to honoured the then Governor, Godswill Akpabio as the ‘Pillar of Hope for Persons with Disabilities in Akwa Ibom State’. He notes that Akpabio who was represented by his Wife, Unoma Akpabio announced a donation of N2 million to them in order to offset their transportation expenses.

Udoakpan says that after the pronouncement of the donation, Unoma Akpabio went out of the Banquet Hall, while the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Dr Glory Edet took over the proceedings by announcing to them that N1, 000 shall be given to each of them at the exit of the hall, a population he emphasized were 800 in number .

Ukpoakpan points out that since N1000 for 800 people will amount to N800,000, N1.2 million was left in the purse of the Commissioner. He notes that they are in need of the money which he says was remaining so as to aid his organization in settling the outstanding financial obligation associated with the visit.

The International President of BEI however notes that in the Commissioner’s letter signed by Barr Bassey Eka to their legal counsel, Sylvester Okon Utuk, Esq. with reference number: MWASW/AD174/S.1/VOL.V/910 and dated November 15, 2018, Dr Edet had described their claim as false with a warning that they should “desist forthwith from his acts of cheap blackmail to avoid unpleasant consequences”.

Alas! It is now a situation of claims and counter claims. How can the truth be unravelled? Udoakpan has acknowledged that the event was jointly organized by the community of persons with disabilities with the umbrella body known as Joint National Association of Persons with disabilities, JONAPWD, Akwa Ibom State Chapter. So what does the organisation have to say about this allegation?


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The State Chairperson, National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Akwa Ibom State Chapter, Deaconess Offiong Bassey notes that the accusation by Ekerette Udoakpan against the Commissioner, Dr. Glory Edet is utter falsehood and reveals smack of hatred against her person.

Deaconess Offiong stress that contrary to Udoakpan’s claim, the Commissioner was not the one who shared the two million naira doled out to them, rather it was personal staff of the wife of the Governor and that Dr. Edet only stayed around to ensure that the money was judiciously shared to everyone before her departure.

She explains that if the community was shortchanged, she would have been the right person to ask for the remaining money to be paid.

Giving details to what happened on the said day, the National Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Association of the Blind and the Immediate Past Chairman of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD, Akwa Ibom State Chapter, Mr Ubong Udo narrates that on the 20th of December 2013, the Community of persons with disabilities gatecrashed into Government House to meet the Governor.

Udo explains that the reason he uses the word gatecrash stems from the fact that the wife of the then Governor, Mrs Unoma Akpabio specifically told them that the meeting was impromptu.

“She said there was no prior notice to her office as regards our visit. But as a mother to our State, she agreed to interact with us. She agreed to officially host us on 24th day of that same month ( December 2013),” Udo notes.

He offers insight to the fact that on 20th December 2013, the meeting was very brief as it was already in the night.

What would the Governor’s wife then do since the meeting was unscheduled and now scheduled in four days time? The immediate Past Chairman says that the Governor’s wife made announcement of N 2 million as transport fare for all the participants. Who shared the money and how was it shared?

Udo explains “I am blind, but from my colleagues that are sighted, the N2 million was not handed over to the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr Glory Edet. The money was given to the staff of Her Excellency’s office to be shared for the participants.

“It is very shocking to me as a stakeholder in the disability community for someone to come and allege that the Commissioner took the money when in reality, she had no business with the money.”

He mentions that besides the claim of the Commissioner sharing the money, he strongly doubt Udoakpan’s position that those who the money was shared to only numbered 800 when there was no head count for participants in the event.

The National PRO of Nigeria Association for the Blind , offers insight to the fact that anytime a programme is organized by the State government for only persons who are blind, the population often outweighs 800 not to mention a function of that magnitude for persons with all forms of disabilities.

Udo adds “Again, he said the money shared was N800, 000. please note, the money was not given to him who was then the Planning and Organizing Secretary of the Akwa Ibom State JONAPWD rather the staff of Her Excellency office. How did he know that what they shared was N800, 000 and the balance was N1.2 million? These are questions yearning for answers.”

He also describes as blatant falsehood the claim by Udoakpan that N1000 was shared to each persons from the community of persons with disabilities. He says everyone in the community including him received N2, 000

Offering analysis, he states ” It is simple mathematics, If you are saying 800 people were there, N2000 multiplied by 800 persons will amount to N1.6 million.

“It is also important to note that events of such magnitude, the blind, wheel chair users whose condition are very deplorable do go there with a sighted guide and the guide were given N1000 each. In my conjecture, there was no money remaining.”

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Udo insists that if at all there was remnant of the money, since the event was jointly organized, it would have been the place of JONAPWD as the umbrella organization to ask for such money and not Udoakpan’s NGO.

Giving testimony to the personality of Dr Glory Edet, he notes ” The Commissioner, Dr Glory Edet is not a dubious woman. Anytime the Governor organizes anything for us through her office, she normally share it and add something for us. So, this allegation is false and should be disregarded “.

Nevertheless, does the personality and antecedents of Ekerette Udoakpan give reason for his claim to be discountenanced as pushed for by the leadership of persons with disabilities? Edmund Ekanem, the State Chairman of Persons with Physical Disabilities, a cluster Ekerette Udoakpan belongs to, replies in the affirmative.

Questionable dealings by the Accuser, Ekerette Udoakpan.

Ekanem relates that Udoakpan’s dealings have been fraudulent, hence, the reason he was dismissed from the cluster.

Giving details as to how it happened, the State Secretary-General, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD, Prince Akaninyene Isidore who is also from the Physically Disabilities cluster with Ekerette Udoakpan notes that Udoakpan
had perpetuated shady dealings of disguising himself as staff of Ministry of Agriculture.

He points out that with the connivance of some persons in the Ministry of Agriculture, Udoakpan succeeded to extort unsuspecting members of the public with promise that he will facilitate agricultural loans for them.

Isidore mentions that when the issues were reported to his cluster, they carried out investigation and when they found him culpable he was subsequently dismissed. He notes that when a letter was sent to the umbrella body, JONAPWD, the leadership in session on 10th January, 2017, having thoroughly reviewed the allegation, upheld his dismissal and a letter to that effect was sent to the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State Command.

The Secretary-General of JONAPWD notes that his shady dealings was not restricted to the Ministry for Agriculture as the State Universal Basic Education Board ( SUBEB) was not spared from his dubious machination.

He reveals that Udoakpan had used able body men to impersonate as deaf persons during screening for employment at SUBEB, a situation he said caused employment to be given to able body persons instead of deaf people slated for the work.

Isidore adds “Before now, Ekerette has been writing letters to the Governor requesting courtesy call. One of such letters is dated 23th April, 2013. The Commissioner who is very aware of the workings of the Association of persons with disabilities advised him to queue up with the umbrella organization.

“Ekerette was aggrieved, he was not comfortable with it, he has always wanted to bypass the umbrella organization to see the Governor of the State. He has never been in agreement with the umbrella organization. So this action by him should not be surprising.”

Isidore wonders why Udoakpan on 24th of December, 2013 when they finally met with the Wife of the Governor could not report to her that the community was shortchanged when he had opportunity to speak. He recalls that instead of that, he eulogized the Commissioner, Dr. Edet in front of the Governor’s wife that she has been taking adequate care of them.

What is more, he further relates that in the office of the Commissioner on 6th September 2016 when the community of persons with disabilities had stakeholders meeting with the Commissioner, the Commissioner drew the attention of the leadership to the incessant harassment by Ekerette Udoakpan against her person through write-up on social media. He mentions that it was at that point that Udoakpan stood up, owned up to the false writings and apologized. Isidore says the excuse he gave was that he did that to attract the attention of the Commissioner coupled with the fact that he felt not carried along by the leadership of the body.

But was that enough reason? Isidore adds “That was when he said he had spent a total sum of N3 million to organize the December 2013 event. It was laughable because the umbrella organization was the one that gave him N300, 000 to organize the event.

“He denied it because he had taken us to court on 27th April 2015 on the ground that we were supporting the Commissioner and the Akwa Ibom State Government.

“Ekerette thought we should not support the government that has done so much for persons with disabilities. The court had given verdict that he should refund our N300,000 with N100, 000 as damages.

“Till this moment, Ekerette has refused to give us that money since March 2019 which the verdict was given. We are yet to initiate another legal action because it is contempt of Court.”

Yet, over five years has passed after the event where the money in question was shared coupled with the fact that the situation has been laid to rest in September 2016 as mentioned, what may have resurrected it?

Reason over the rebirth of the saga:

The accuser, Ekerette Udoakpan says the reason he is still pursuing the matter is because he has outstanding financial obligations associated with the visit to settle.

But the leadership of JONAPWD differs. The State Chairperson, National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Akwa Ibom State Chapter, Deaconess Offiong Bassey says the meeting of the 24th December, 2013 also witnessed the Governor’s wife donate N600,000 to JONAPWD with a bus among other mobility aid and same amount equally donated to Udoakpan’s NGO. She insists that if it was actually true that he had financial obligations, he could have used the N600,000 to his NGO to settle it.

The Chairperson recalled that for the success of the event, the Nigeria Association of the Blind contributed N25, 000, Association of the Deaf-N40, 000, Students with Disabilities, University of Uyo- N 40,000, Association of Physically handicapped -25, 000 and Dr Glory Edet – N50,000.

For the Immediate past Chairman of
JONAPWD, Mr Ubong Udo, he finds it difficult to pinpoint the reason the issue is resurfacing.

Udo however posits “Sometimes, the society will assume we are aggressive. However, sometimes we are because of the way we are treated in the society. But in this case, I am surprise because he had apologized to the Commissioner on the same issue before.

“And now, this is 2019, something that had been laid to rest. Perhaps there are people sponsoring him or just as he said before, perhaps he is looking for attention. But the Dr Glory Edet that I know, if Ekerette have had financial difficulty, it would have been wise to reach out to the Commissioner and not use Social and conventional media to raise falsehood against a serving Commissioner, whose benevolence is well known.

“By extension, you are rubbishing the government. Through Dr. Glory Edet, we have had the opportunity of hosting a Governor, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel. This is a Governor who has broken a 32 years jinx. He is the first Governor to attend a programme organized by persons with disabilities. We have never had it before.”

Nonetheless, the opinion of the Secretary-General of JONAPWD is also different. He says ” Ekerette all these while have been having illegal dealings he is benefiting from in the Ministry of Agriculture and now that Dr. Glory Edet is serving there, who knows if the Commissioner has already uncovered the illegal activities he has been benefiting from.

” He was not alone in shady deals, he has backing from few persons in the Ministry. I strongly think that is why he has returned to smear the image of the commissioner.”

Be that as it may, regardless of the speculation about his reasons, what is the way forward?

The way forward

Ekerette Udoakpan says he will not tire out in agitating for the money. Consequently, the Chairperson of JONAPWD says since his action is in bad faith, the organization may be left with a Hobson’s Choice but to undertake legal actions against Udoakpan.

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She states ” The government and other well wishers who have been helping us may now look at us with a second eye. We won’t allow this to happen.”

The Secretary-General supports the position of the Chairperson. He notes “He is trying to play with the intelligence of everyone hence we are left with the choice of initiating legal action against him.”

The National PRO of Nigeria Association of the Blind and the Immediate Past Chairman of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD, Mr. Udo toes the line of the State Chapter of the leadership to seek legal redress although with doubt about the Commissioner’s disposition to pursue the case.

He notes “If I were the Commissioner, because the issue has come out time out of numbers, I would go to court to seek redress. But I know as a compassionate woman, she may not want to toe that line.”

He says he is asking JONAPWD that should the Commissioner fail to initiate a legal action they should challenge the matter because they have used self help, mediation with Udoakpan and he has refused to listen to voice of reasoning and decency.

While appealing to members of the public to discountenance the allegations against Dr. Glory Edet, he notes “People with disabilities are part of the society. What happens in the society happens to us too. We are not God, we are humans and we are bound to make mistakes in life but I appeal that people should not generalize it.

“We must have a Judas among the 12. They should not use that to judge us. Within the fold, we have to do a lot of awareness so that the public know where we stand. Ekerette is on his own. No one supports him on this. And we will also appeal to the Commissioner to temper justice with mercy.”

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