December 14, 2022
No fewer than five persons have lost their lives and others critically injured in rival cult clashes involving two notorious confraternities – Vickings and the Mafians, on Tuesday evening in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Witnesses around the Ibom Plaza axis of the city centre, told our correspondent that the fracas started in the evening hours at about 6:30pm, and lasted for about two hours, before Police operatives and a detachment of Soldiers standing guard at the plaza since the #EndSARS protest last year, arrived to restore normalcy.
Aniekan Akpainyang, a tricycle operator, who spoke to journalists, linked the remote cause of the violence to a minor disagreement at a betting shop along Ikot Ekpene Road by the plaza area, recalling that the incident triggered the old animosity between the rival groups.
He said: “One cultist, a member of the Vickings confraternity had placed a bet to the tune of N5,000, but could not pay after he lost. The shop attendant asked him to pay or drop his phone but he refused and instead called his gang members on phone, who came, pounced on the attendant and ransacked the shop.”
He added that the resultant reprisal attack from the camp of the booking man, who was said to belong to the Mafians group, led to a free-for-all with three persons killed; two at the Plaza area and one at the Ikpa Road junction, close to the University of Uyo (UNIUYO) town campus, while two others had earlier been killed at Okokon Etuk street, few meters to the Uyo City centre.
However, the Police confirmed the incident, but could not volunteer information on the casualty figure in a statement on Wednesday by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Odiko Macdon.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), at about 6:30pm, the Command received information about a Cult clash at the Plaza.
“While the Commissioner of Police, CP, Olatoye Durosinmi, condemned in strong terms, the unfortunate incident which caused palpable fear among the good people of the state, the CP has reminded those involved in this dastardly act to note that the ban on cultism in the state is still in force and that henceforth, perpetrators of such acts will be apprehended and prosecuted in accordance with extant laws.
“The CP has, therefore, called on residents to go about their lawful duties without fear of molestation as the Command has emplaced adequate security at the Plaza and around the state, throughout the Yuletide and beyond.”