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Akwa Ibom community suffers hardship after youths vandalised banks

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Affiong Etim, a woman in her 70s, was among the aged people seated on the tiled floor in the ATM gallery at the First Bank in Oron, Oron Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, on a Monday morning, in March 2023.

They were hoping to make withdrawals for the first time since 17 February, after the only commercial banks in the area had been vandalised during a protest over the nationwide naira scarcity.

On sighting this reporter walked into the gallery, Mrs Etim, aided by her walking stick, struggled to stand up.

“My son, please help me,” she muttered to the reporter whom she thought was a worker in the bank. “I want to withdraw money, will the machines pay today?”

The time was 10:05 a.m. The woman said she had been at the bank since 5 a.m.

About 15 of the bank customers, whom this newspaper learnt had been in the gallery since 5 a.m., were seen taking a nap – seated on the floor, with their back resting on the wall – while waiting hopelessly for ATMs which were not dispensing cash.

About 15 of the bank customers, whom this newspaper learnt had been in the gallery since 5 a.m., were seen taking a nap – seated on the floor, with their back resting on the wall – while waiting hopelessly for ATMs which were not dispensing cash.

Besides, people from the neighbouring local government areas of Mbo, Okobo, Urue-Offong Uruko, and Udung Uko also depended on the three banks for their transactions.

When the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reversed its restriction on currency circulation and Nigerians were beginning to get naira notes, residents of Oron and the other local government areas were still at the mercy of POS operators who were selling naira notes at unbelievable rates.

The residents alternatively resorted to traveling from Oron to Eket, about 37 minutes’ drive, for their bank transactions. Sometimes, they traveled as far as Uyo, the state capital, for it.

UBA, the most vandalised among the three banks, was deserted when our reporter visited in March.

At First Bank, seven out of the eight ATMs were destroyed while the premises of Access Bank looked like a war zone, with several big holes on the glass building. There were pieces of shattered glasses everywhere.

Keystone Bank and Ecobank had left Oron over two years ago but their abandoned properties were also vandalised by the protesters, Emmanuel Antai, a journalist in the area, told our reporter.

 

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APC Chieftain Commends Governor Umo Eno for Prompt Gratuity Payment

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Idorenyin Etuk, a prominent figure within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, has expressed commendation for Governor Umo Eno’s consistent efforts in ensuring the regular payment of gratuities to retired civil servants.

Governor Eno recently authorized the disbursement of an additional N1.4 billion for the payment of gratuities to retired civil servants in the state. The breakdown of the payment indicates that N900 million is allocated for retired state civil servants, while N500 million is designated for retired primary school teachers.

A statement released by Ekerette Udoh, the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, revealed that this additional allocation brings the total amount of gratuities disbursed by Governor Eno to N16.1 billion within ten months of his administration.

The issue of pension and gratuity payment has been a contentious subject, leading to protests from retired civil servants and their next of kin. In response to the governor’s actions, Etuk, a member of the APC Elders Council in the area, expressed his appreciation, highlighting the significance of the prompt payment of entitlements to retirees.

Etuk emphasized the importance of addressing the financial needs of retirees, stating that it is unjust to subject them to protests for the payment of their rightful benefits. He applauded Governor Eno’s people-centric approach to governance, noting that it demonstrates genuine concern for the welfare of senior citizens who have served the state diligently.

While acknowledging his initial opposition to Governor Eno’s gubernatorial ambition, Etuk admitted to witnessing the governor’s humanity and commitment to the well-being of the people. He emphasized the critical role of gratuity payments in alleviating the financial challenges faced by retirees, particularly in the current economic climate.

Etuk concluded by underscoring the significance of fulfilling obligations to retirees, recognizing their contributions to the state and the hardships they may encounter without timely payment of their entitlements.

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ASP John Timfon Assumes Duty as Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer

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In a significant transition within the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, ASP John Timfon has officially assumed the role of Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), becoming the 24th PPRO of the command.

This change comes as part of a recent appointment approved by the Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Adeoye Egbetokun, Ph.D, NPM.

ASP John Timfon succeeds CSP Odiko Macdon, who has been promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP). The handover was formalized on Tuesday, marking the beginning of ASP Timfon’s tenure as the face and voice of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command.

Prior to her appointment as the Akwa Ibom State PPRO, ASP John Timfon served as the Head of Programmes for Nigeria Police Radio, 99.1FM, Abuja. Hailing from Akwa Ibom State, she brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her new role, holding an LL.B (Hons) Degree in Law from the Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil, Kano State, and being a member of the Regular Course 2.

In a statement issued by DSP Lawrence Anine of the PRO department, the Akwa Ibom State Police Command expressed gratitude to the outgoing PPRO, CSP Odiko Macdon, for his professionalism and dedication during his tenure. The command also urged the people of Akwa Ibom State to extend their cooperation and support to ASP John Timfon as she embarks on her new responsibilities.

With this transition, ASP John Timfon is poised to uphold the standards of transparency, communication, and community engagement, ensuring the effective dissemination of information and fostering positive relations between the police force and the residents of Akwa Ibom State.

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Testimony Unfolds in Trial Surrounding Lawyer’s Mysterious Death in Akwa Ibom

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In a gripping courtroom drama at the Akwa Ibom State High Court in Uyo, more revelations emerged surrounding the death of Barrister Godwin Ikoiwak, a practicing lawyer with the State Ministry of Justice. Six individuals are currently standing trial in connection with the case, presided over by Justice Bassey Nkanang.

The court heard the compelling testimony of Mrs. Abasiesebanga Ikoiwak, the wife of the deceased and a registrar at the Court of Appeal, Calabar. Mrs. Ikoiwak, aged 37, provided a detailed account of the events leading up to her husband’s demise and the subsequent actions taken to conceal the circumstances of his death.

According to Mrs. Ikoiwak’s testimony, she directed her sister, Udeme Patrick Umoh, a Nigeria Police officer who is currently at large, to transport her husband’s body from her mother-in-law’s house to Saint Luke’s Hospital in Uyo. The purpose was to obtain a death certificate, falsely indicating that her husband passed away at the hospital rather than at his mother-in-law’s residence.

The defendants standing trial alongside Mrs. Ikoiwak include her mother, Margaret Patrick Umoh (67 years old), her sister, Owoidoho Patrick Umoh (36 years old), two medical doctors, Dr. Imoh Sunday Johnson and Dr. Isaac Njoku, as well as Reverend Father Gabriel Ekong, the Administrator of Saint Luke’s Hospital.

Mrs. Ikoiwak admitted to her involvement in the scheme, citing her confessional statement to the Department of State Services (DSS). She recounted the events leading to her husband’s death, mentioning his weakness upon returning from the Federal High Court, Uyo, and her decision to send him to her mother’s house for care.

However, discrepancies emerged during Mrs. Ikoiwak’s testimony, particularly regarding her communication with her family members and her husband’s health status. She claimed to have kept her husband’s family uninformed about his deteriorating condition and alleged that her in-laws refused to acknowledge her as the deceased’s wife and denied the existence of their two children.

The trial continues as the court seeks to uncover the truth behind Barrister Ikoiwak’s mysterious death and the events surrounding it.

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