Ikot-Abasi Local Council of Akwa Ibom State was during the week thrown into mourning after angry soldiers on duty at Utaewa water birch in the area reportedly killed one Otobong Jumbo 45, a cement merchant using their gun butts.
Feelers had it that one of the wives of the deceased, Enefiok Jumbo, went to the water birch at night of the incident to defecate. An argument broke out between the woman and one of the soldiers, who reportedly pointed a torch light on her face, and in the ensuing exchange of words between her and the soldier, the soldier was said to have pushed her into the river but she managed to swim out.
It was gathered that the soldiers later sent for her husband, Otobong Jumbo, who allegedly has pending personal issues with the them.
It was further gathered that when the man arrived the scene, the soldiers reportedly hit him with the butts of their guns and he fell down and became unconscious and they later pushed him into the river and threatened to shoot anyone who would come to rescue him from the river.
Meanwhile, the wife of the deceased who interacted with few journalists on Sunday, said “I went to the birch on Tuesday night to ease myself, a soldier on duty there came and pointed a torch light on my face and when I queried why he was pointing his light on my face, he drew closer to where I was and pushed me into the river, but I manage to swim out of the river.
“While I was talking with the soldier, the leader of them sent for my husband who arrived the scene almost immediately. I don’t know what my husband said that got them angry but what I know is that they have personnal issues with my husband.
“All of us in this community, have severally complained about the excesses of the soldiers who extort money from us, intimidate and harass us, so my husband has been having this issues with the soldiers in the course of moving his goods across the river to Opobo.
“When my husband came, they swooped on him and hit him with gun butts until he became unconscious. They pushed him into the river and threatened to shoot anyone that comes to his rescue. He was taken first to Foundation Clinic, and then Waterside Clinic and later to Navy Clinic, where he later died.”
The woman, however, called on the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, the Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, to ensure that justice was done on the matter.
Her words, “ I don’t know what will become of my three children, my husband did not do anything to the soldiers. They have personal issues with my husband so they decided to use that opportunity to deal with him.
Justice should be done.”
However, Army spokesman 2nd Brigade, Nigeria Army, Ibawa, Abak Local Government of Akwa Ibom State, Major Bashir Jajira, who confirmed the incident, explained that the deceased was drunk.
According to him, “ I can confirm that something like that happened on that day. A woman came to the birch at an abnormal time to defecate. There is a time we allow for normal activities at the birch.
“The husband went to the birch very drunk and could not control himself, so as the soldiers securing the place were shouting who was that! He ran and fell into the river, and before he was rescued he was already found to be dead.”
However, the youth leader of the community, Mr Segun Omoboye, who confirmed the incident, said the youths were planning a peaceful demonstration to protest the excesses of the soldiers at the Water birch.
The community, it was gathered, had severally accused the soldiers maintaining security at the birch of unnecessary harassment including extorting money from them.