18 December 2013, Uyo – Atai Nung Oku community in Ibesikpo/Asutan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, have locked horns with the police in the state for allegedly refusing to release the
armoured cable needed for the installation of a transformer in the area.
It was learnt that some members of the community with the assistance of two policemen from Ikot Obio Odongo Police Station had kept the armoured cable in a community leader’s house prior to the installation of a transformer to prevent it from being stolen.
However, the police authorities were said to have stormed the leader’s house; seized the armoured cable, and had declined to release it to the community since March.
Residents of the community said they got approval from Uyo Business Unit of the then Power Holding Company of Nigeria before depositing the cable with the leader.
One of the community’s leader, Mr. Meshach Okon, who spoke with PUNCH Metro in Uyo on Tuesday, said the community’s decision to keep the cable with one of them instead of the PHCN’s office, was to prevent the power company from selling the cable to another community.
He said, “We first of all applied for the removal of the armoured cable prior to the installation of the transformer by the PHCN. When they gave us approval, we invited two policemen from Ikot Obio Odongo Police Station, in Ibesikpo/Asutan LGA during the process of removing the armoured cable.
“We took the cable to our family head’s compound, thinking that we would reclaim the cable once we had enough money for the installation.
“One night, policemen from Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikot Akpan Abia stormed our family head’s compound in the night and took away the cable. They accused the man of stealing the cable.
“We went back to PHCN office and we were given a letter to the state police headquarters to let them know that we were duly authorised to remove the armoured cable.
“Since then, we had made many representations to get the police to release the cable to us to no avail.”
The community gave some of its letters to our correspondent to back its claim. In the letters of February 14, 2012, titled, “Request for Armoured Cable,” addressed to the Project Manager, PHCN, Uyo; and “Return of Armoured Cable of March 25, 2013,” also addressed to the Project Manager, PHCN, the community sought the police understanding that the armoured cable removal was duly authorised by the PHCN.
Another letter, dated April 8, 2013, addressed to Superintendent Femi, the Officer in Charge of SARS, State Police Headquarters, and signed by Taskforce Business Manager, Uyo, O.O. Uduma, asked the police to return the cable as it was duly approved by PHCN.
The PHCN had in the letter told the police that the armoured cable was officially assigned to Atai Nung Oku, in Ibesikpo Community and asked the police to return the instrument for the community to complete the installation of its transformer, which was approved by the state government.
A landlord in the area, Mr. Ubong Joshua, said the transformer had been installed, but the amoured cable with the police had made it impossible to use it. He said life was becoming unbearable to residents.
He appealed to Akwa Ibom State government to intervene in the matter to save the community.
The Police Public Relations Officer for the state command, Mr. Etim Dickson, asked the community to bring the letters to the commissioner of police and seek audience with him.
He said, “Bring the letters and seek audience with the CP. If you say the armoured cable was removed to keep it pending the time when the transformer would be ready and now you need it; the police will definitely release the cable to them.
“Police exhibits are usually released on bond. They can’t release the cable without proper representation from the community. Let them come.”
– The Punch