Twenty thousand members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Essien Udim, the home of Godswil Akpabio, former Governor of the state, on Tuesday defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party has said.
But the occasion was marred by an attack by hired thugs, with Moses Ekpo, Deputy Governor of the state, among party stakeholders and government officials to escape by the skin of their teeth.
The highlight of the reception for the new members, held at the Unity Hall of Essien Udim Local Government Council headquarters, was a massive declaration of support for Governor Udom Emmanuel by former and serving chapter and ward executive council members of the APC.
Prince Ukpong Akpabio, younger brother and former aide of the immediate past Senate Minority Leader, as well as Chief Michael Afangideh, regarded as Akpabio’s political godfather, also declared for Udom.
The Deputy Governor was receiving the APC defectors on behalf of the Governor when thugs suspected to be Akpabio’s supporters stormed the venue and attacked on the participants, including Ekpo.
The thugs, allegedly led by one Adionganye Akpabio, a cousin of Akpabio, and Imo Ibara from Ukana West ward1, arrived in buses and started launching missiles at everyone at the premises.
Speaking with Ukpong Akpabio, the state Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Industry, thanked God for the prompt response of the Police to arrest the situation.
The miscreants succeeded in injuring some people and destroying some vehicles at the venue before escaping via a nearby river at Afaha Ikot Ebak.
A Honda Accord vehicle belonging to the PDP Chapter Chairman in Essien Udim, Hon. Ntiedo Usoro, was damaged, as well as some cars and motorcycles belonging to the APC members who defected to the PDP.
Elder Ufot EBong, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters, said he was astonished by the nature of the attack.
“I have never seen anything like this; they came armed and they made bonfires on the road and attempted to barricade us inside so they can kill us,” he said. “This is very horrible and I am worried about this development.