Outrage has continued to trail the arrest of one Victor Mkpofor Ntekim, a suspected militants leader, alleged to have formed a separatist group, Oro Freedom Fighters (OFF), with the intent of using the platform to perpetrate terrorism.
Ntekin, 42, was charged to court along with two other suspects-Prince Thomas Ebrenam, 34, and Edem Edem Ekeng, 44.
According to the charge sheet number MU1732017 preferred against the trio at the Uyo Magistrate Court, the suspects were alleged to have formed the OFF group at the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHECDC) office, Oron Local Government Area of the State in December 2016, for the purposes of terrorism and other violent activities..
In the second charge, the suspects were accused of sending a threat letter to one Comfort Odungide, the Marketing Manager of the Oron branch of PHECDC, stressing that the two offenses were punishable under section 552 of the criminal code, Cap 38laws of Akwa Ibom State and section 6(2) of the State’s Internal Security and Enforcement Law, 2009.
The suspects, who were refused bail and remanded in the Uyo prisons till the next adjourned date, denied the charges, saying the Department of State Services (DSS) only fabricated charges against them
Meanwhile, the leaders of a civil right organisation, Oro Youth Movement (OYOM), which Ntekim is the National President, have decried the arrest and subsequent charge to court of their leader.
They accused Department of State Services (DSS) of prosecuting their President on what they described as “trump up charges”.
According to a statement by the Director in-charge of Media and Publicity of OYOM, Comrade Boe Ekpo, “the two count charges preferred against our National President is not only strange but lacks every logic and common sense”.
“Our National President, Victor Mkpofor Ntekim, has no link with the Oro Freedom Fighters (OFF), as alleged by the DSS in their charges before the Court in Uyo”, he said.
Recalling the genesis of event that led to the current travails of their boss, he said: “On March 2, 2017, a five-man gang of suspected kidnappers led by one Mr Bassey Barron, had attempted to abduct our national president.
“On that fateful day, Comrade Ntekim was returning from where he had audience with the Deputy Commissioner of Police when the suspected abductors ambushed him and were about forcing him into a waiting car when he raised the alarm and was promptly rescued by policemen from the area command, Oron.
“The five suspected abductors and Comrade Ntekim were subsequently taken to the station for proper investigation.
On interrogation by police at the Area Command, Oron,one Bassey Baron, confessed that they were acting on the instruction of the Registrar of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN)Oron, pastor Mkpandiok Ante Mkpandiok .
“Few hours after the confession, some DSS operatives from Uyo, stormed the Police Area Command Office, Oron and freed the suspected kidnappers, but took Ntekim to Uyo, where he was detained without explanation for over one week, before he was charged to Court”.
He alleged that Comrade Ntekim’s ordeal started when (OYOM) wrote a petition to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID),Ikot Akpanabia, Uyo, on 15th February 2017, accusing the MAN Registrar, Mkpandiok, of “working against the interest of the institution”.
In the petition, the Registrar was accused of “perpetuating acts capable of incitement, abuse of office and conduct likely to cause breach of peace in the academic community”.
They, therefore, urged the Police to investigate the activities of the Registrar, which they alleged, were inimical to the growth and development of the Maritime institution.
According to the group, Mkpandiok only resorted to use the DSS “to save his face and to further intimidate the leadership of OYOM after the abduction he sponsored was foiled by the Police”.
He said the group stance was for a qualified Professor to be named as Rector for the institution to replace Pastor Mkpandiok, who doubles as the Registrar and Acting Rector, since the death of two former Rectors.
They argued that, “with the Federal Government desire to upgrade the institution to a University status, it had become imperative for a Professor with sound knowledge in university management to be appointed to manage the institution”.
But Pastor Mkpandiok denied the allegation, saying he was not a kidnapper.”I am a civil servants, I cannot go into kidnapping”.
He alleged that Comrade Ntekim had been using the cover of a militants group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to trail him, thereby putting his life in danger.
“That group had reported me to the Niger Delta Avengers, and having been trailing me from Monday to Sunday, even to my house, and you are saying I am a kidnapper?”, he said.