By Chioma Onuegbu
Uyo—FEAR has gripped residents of Mbak Etoi community in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State following incessant armed robbery and attacks by cultists within the area.
Residents of the community in the outskirts of Uyo metropolis are lamenting that threats to their lives by hoodlums had forced many to abandon their homes to sleep in the bush most nights.
When newsmen visited the community, it was observed that economic activities in the community have been grounded.
Shop owners said that they have lost count of the number of times they had been robbed and extorted by the hoodlums.
Some of the victims, who narrated their ordeals on the condition of anonymity for fear of further attacks, lamented that they had been left at the mercy of God as the police from the Shelter Afrique Divisional Police Station, Uyo have not done anything to rescue them from the incessant attacks.
A nursing mother, and a provision store operator, said “Armed robbers have been terrorizing us for so long, that we are now just helpless. The first time they broke through the ceiling into my shop and packed all good in the shop. The second time they came in through the window. The third time they waylaid me on the road and stole my money at gunpoint.
“The fourth time, they were even more heavily armed and came in large numbers. Two of the armed robbers entered my shop and requested for the money from the day’s sales. I was terrified that I carried all the money I had saved, which I had planned to re-stock my shop with, I gave it to them.
“But before I gave the money to them, they noticed that I had delayed in giving them the money and ordered me to drop my three months baby on the floor for them to shoot but I refused to drop my baby. They now began to beat me up and so I decided to hand over the money to them.
“From my shop, they went into other shops around and robbed them too. They even stole fish and other food items. I have been robbed five times in this shop. They have also been robbing people’s houses.”
Another victim, who also spoke on ground of anonymity for fear of attack, said: “I want the government and the police to ensure that armed robbery attacks end in Mbak Etoi. We don’t sleep well at night any longer. Throughout yesterday, we were running into the bush to hide. This was at night.
“If we put distress calls to the police, they will tell us that they dont have petrol in their vehicles. The police usually tell us to buy petrol for them before they come to our rescue.”
However, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in charge of the area, Mrs. Atim Eshiet said her officers and men always patrol Mbak Etoi and other communities to checkmate criminal activities.
The DPO, who went to the community to assess the security situation, denied the issue of not having petrol in their vehicles even as she promised to beef up security in the area to ensure that the situation was brought under control.