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Vandalism: A’Ibom Community Petitions NDDC, Nigeria Police Over N53.7m Water Source, Picks Village Head As Suspect


As hoodlums continue to vandalize public facilities across communities in Akwa Ibom State, the people of Ikot Obio Inyang village in Etinan Local Government Area of the state have fingered for their village head as prime suspect in the theft of the solar panels fueling their water source.
This would not be the first time the village head, Chief Emem Akpan is indicted on crime related matters, as he openly confessed to the press to have been accused, arrested, detained and charged for a case of kidnapping, though declaring such charges to be false.
The vandalization case at hand concerns the solar powered water project donated to Ikot Obio Inyang village by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), at the sum of N53, 747, 185.80 only.
The water project awarded to Somerset Int’l Services Ltd on 11th February 2011,  in a letter signed by Kilfungo Moljengo, Esq with reg no: NDDC /HPU/2/AKS/PR/012, on behalf of NDDC was intended to serve the community which has no natural source of water supply.  Reporting the vandalization to the NDDC, Ikot Obio Inyang Development Association (IKODA) in a letter dated September 9, 2019 and signed by its National President, Enefiok B. Umoh and Secretary Uduak Edet Udoh, said that two items; the Solar Pump and the Solar Panel were vandalized.
“It was the NDDC, Uyo office that awarded the contract to a competent contractor. He completed the work and handed it to the village council to take good care of the project. Ikot Obio Inyang is one of the villages without good drinking water. This water project supplied water to Ikot Obio Inyang community as well as Ikot Obio Inyang Health Centre.
“In the light of the above, we request the Director to please direct his Engineers to come to Ikot Obio Inyang, Inspect the extent of damage done to the project and carry out investigations to find out the perpetrators”. The letter reads.  Umoh who also spoke with our correspondent on phone said the association decided to take up the matter as those who took the initiative to approach NDDC for the water source.
“As an association which applied for the water (facility) since we have no natural water source in the community, we decided to report the matter to NDDC and the state police command, which thereafter prompted the Etinan Divisional police office to investigate the matter”.
He therefore appealed to the police to insist on recovering the solar panels from the village authority.
Another member of the community, who would not want his name in print added; “The police during the investigation discovered that the village head and the council were aware of the vandalization, and that the small boy who climbed the tank stand to bring down the solar panels did so on the instruction of the village head.
When visited in his palace, the Village ahead of Ikot Obio Inyang, Eteidung Emem Akpan admitted that the solar powered water donated to the village by NDDC was vandalized and that he, the village head was accused and interrogated by the police for allegedly being responsible for the vandalism.
“After they vandalized the solar panel, the village council had to put heads together and so we came up with a manual pump. Since 2017, we have been getting water through the manual pump.
Akpan, who is reported to have been linked with a case of kidnapping, admitted to have had too many police and court cases than should a village head. He therefore accused the state government of not acting in his defence whenever his people had cause to link him up with cases of crime.
“I was given a certificate of recognition as village head in 2013. I have faced so many things ever since. My people labeled me a kidnapper, I had been on that case since 2016 to 2019 when the case was finally dismissed. The government never helped me in these travails,” he said.
The village head however said he suspected that the solar panels and the solar pump were vandalized by the contractors who handled the job, since they, according to him, knew how they installed the facilities.
His words “Even the second one we did, I strongly warned the contractor to ensure that the pump was safely secured and he assured me, but after a while, it was again vandalized. So I suspect them”.
One of the villagers who interacted with our Reporter said the villagers decided to petition the village head to the police on the matter as they  strongly suspected the him to have known the whereabouts of the solar panels.
A woman, who lamented the ordeals of members of the community since the panels were vandalized said it was the responsibility of the village head to have protected the multi-million naira facility. He added that even the community Health Centre was severely feeling the effect of the vandalism.
She alleged that the village council was equally culpable on issues surrounding electricity, alleging that though members of the community were constantly compelled to pay PHED bill, the community was still heavily indebted to PHED, alleging therefore that such monies were not remitted to the appropriate authorities.
Commenting on the issue of vandalization of public facilities, the Chairman, Etinan Local Government Council, Mr Cletus Ekpo expressed his disappointment over such issue and vowed to ensure that the certificate of recognition is revoked from any village head confirmed to have condoned or promoted such activities in the area.

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