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Cross River Community Turns Ghost Town As Police Nab 40 Youths For Setting Woman Ablaze



By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos

The clan head, Ntufam Augustine Orok, and other residents of Old Netim in Akamkpa Local Government Area, Cross River State, have complained that police officers investigating the death of a mother of four, Mrs. Martina Okey, set ablaze by unruly youths in July, over purported witchcraft, have turned the farming settlement into an abandoned town.

Recall that Congress News had earlier reported that some suspected gangsters, without proof, accused the late Okey of killing a certain youth; and again, in June, alleging she killed two youths, who perished in an accident through witchcraft, they dragged her out of her house and burnt her to death.

Clan Head of the community, Orok, who condemned the killing of Mrs Okey, said many villagers had fled the once-bustling community because of random arrest by the police, who apprehended over 40 youths and detained them in connection with the unpleasant incident.

“There are reports on social media that the murder of Mrs. Martina Okey was done by the entire youths of the Old Netim community, which is a wrong conclusion.

“When the incident happened, some of our youths were in their farms, several were even in Calabar, and some of them in neighbouring villages far away from here, so the claim that all the Old Netim youths participated in the killing is not true.

“It is the young men that go to the farm but with all of them clamped into detention, there is hardly enough food to eat in the past month.

“We produce garri, plantain, okra, vegetable and palm oil, and traders as far as from Akwa Ibom State usually come here to buy those items. Through that, we make money to pay our children’s school fees and buy drugs, but because of that, they no longer come.”

The clan head disclosed that following the negative publicity, traders who usually thronged the community to buy foodstuff stopped coming.

“Under our watch, the Old Netim community will continue to partner with Cross River State Government to maintain peace, which is the bedrock of development, and we pledge our unalloyed loyalty and support to Prince Bassey Otu’s government,” he said.

Secretary of the Old Netim Clan Council, Ntufam Linu Mbey, said recalcitrant youths against the development of the community killed the woman.

“They carried out the act to give our community a bad image, and unfortunately, the police are not restricting arrests to just the culprits but every youth in the community, which is the reason we are crying out, and calling on the authorities to carry out investigation and release our youths who are innocent.

“Most of those who carried out the act have escaped but the police are arresting our youths, who are innocent. The release of the youths is imperative because of the hardship the innocent families are passing through. Old Netim, the hub of business in Akamkpa Local Government Area, known for its peaceful nature, is now desolate.”

The chiefs and elders of the community appealed to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 6, and the State Commissioner of Police to release the youths in their custody and go after the real perpetrators of the act, who are now at large.
They promised to cooperate with the police to track down the real culprits.

The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Cross River Police Command, Ms Irene Ugbo, said the matter was still under investigation.