The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere escaped death last Thursday when his convoy was involved in a fatal accident on its way to receive the Ag President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo in Calabar who was on a working visit to Cross River State.
So many furors were created, not because Nsima Ekere was involved in the accident, but because of the actual location of the accident.
A misinformation was sent out to members of the public on the actual location where the accident took place. Whether this was intentional or unintentional is yet to be ascertained but this has created much fuss amongst members of the Akwa Ibom community who queried why Ekere and his team would make such a mistake.
First, a statement was issued by the NDDC’s Director, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Toye Abosede stating inter alia that, ‘‘the convoy of the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima.Ekere, has been involved in a road mishap.
‘‘The incident, along the Calabar-Itu Road, occurred when a trailer ran into the pilot vehicle carrying policemen attached to the NDDC Managing Director who was on his way to Calabar to receive the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
‘‘The victims were immediately taken to a nearby hospital where they are receiving urgent medical attention for injuries. Unfortunately, one of the policemen could not be saved.
‘‘Members of the entourage in other vehicles were unhurt in the unfortunate incident’’.
Ekere followed suit by posting a message on his Facebook page. He said: “Today (Thursday), my convoy was involved in a road mishap on my way to Calabar, Cross River State to receive the Acting President.
“The accident happened along Calabar-Itu Road, just by a T-Junction after Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. A petrol tanker on top speed rammed into the pilot vehicle carrying police escorts.
“Sadly, we lost two of the police men. The other victims were immediately taken to the Uyo Teaching Hospital where they are receiving treatment.
“I have paid a visit to the victims and I am happy they are all responding to treatment. About four of them are already in stable conditions.
“I wish to commiserate with the family of the deceased policemen who lost their lives while in active service.
“It is really unfortunate! I want to assure you that we will not leave the family to grieve alone.
“I will personally reach out to them and commiserate with them”.
This statement raised dust as social media users who witnessed the accident took to their handles/timelines to puncture the statement issued by Nsima and Abosede.
They said it was a deliberate attempt by Obong Ekere and his men to hide certain facts about the accident from members of the public.
They also said that the (death) casualty figure is more than 2 as stated in their statements. On the same day the accident took place, Savanna Reporters, an online news portal which is managed by IT/New Media Consultant to the NDDC MD, Destiny Young published an updated news report that four policemen lost their lives in the accident.
Initially, the statement by the Director of Corporate Affairs of the commission, said one policeman died in the accident, while the statement by Obong Ekere said two policemen lost their lives.
These disparities in the information sent out by the MD and his men raised suspicion from members of the public who suspected foul play.
“Maybe what we saw was another accident? But policemen and sirens everywhere. And the poor mechanic across the road that was scattered by the truck who by all rights had right of way, but after avoiding the head on collision ran into the same guys? May God rest the dead sha.
“Accident happens because of faults in car or the driver. So he had accident at T junction linking Essene road and Abak – Ikot Akan (Ikot Akpan Enin junction) beside Regina Caeli College, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area yet he claimed it happened at Calabar Itu Road. An okada man with his passenger died instantly, yet that has not been reported. Can this man be trusted with public office?”, said a Facebook user, Steve ‘TheMan’ Ubiam who is an in-law to APC Chieftain, Umana Okon Umana.
The Member Representing Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo State Constituency, Hon. Uduak Ududoh also made a comment on Facebook, exposing the seeming lie of the part of the NDDC folks, saying the accident happened in his village and not in Calabar-Itu as initially made to be believed by Ekere.
“…that spot that the accident happened is my village, Essene, in my ward. The people that died ( outside the policemen) are my supporters. I was shocked when the point which the accident happened was reported to be along Calabar-Itu road. I wonder what they were trying to benefit with that magnitude of lie. May God console the bereaved families and grant the deceased eternal rest. The liars should pray for forgiveness to avoid God’s wrath on them”, said the AKHA Member.
While others called for ceasefire, stating that there was no need for the bickering, those who are sympathetic to Nsima said that it is not a big deal as the governor played politics with the dead during the Reigners Bible Church collapse.
Because of the furor, the NDDC MD edited his earlier post and inserted the correct location.
“The accident happened at Ikot Akpan Enin junction by Regina Caeli College, Essene along Abak – Ikot Abasi Road in Ikot Abasi LGA in Akwa Ibom State”, reads the new location on Nsima Ekere’s post.
He however made a comment on the post, blaming his aide for the mix-up.
“Hello Friends. Please forgive the mix up, my aide made a mistake in actual location. It has been corrected. It wasn’t our intention to twist facts on matters where human lives are concerned. Thanks for understanding please”, Ekere said.
But the belief amongst most members of the public is that before the NDDC Director of Corporate Affairs, Mr Abosede issued the statement, he must have spoken with the MD to get facts and the true position of things. In essence, it is believed in some quarters that Nsima deliberately distorted some facts for reasons best known to him.
The following day after the accident, Nsima stated via a Facebook post that he has visited the victims of the accident in the (University of) Uyo Teaching Hospital where they were receiving treatment, saying he has taken care of their hospital bills.
“Yesterday was a hard day for me. I had absolutely no idea how excruciating it is to lose two of your aides. I am deeply saddened and I lack the words to express how I feel. My heart goes out to the family of the dead and I pray the Lord gives them the much needed peace this period.
“This morning, I visited the Uyo Teaching Hospital to see the victims and I am glad they are all responding to treatment. I assure you they are in good hands and will be well taken care of. Their hospital bills have already been paid for. I have also reached out the family members of some of them. They will not be abandoned.
“Thanks to all those who sent in their condolences. I truly appreciate. God bless you all”, he said.
Meanwhile, they were couple of condolence messages sent to the NDDC MD by well-meaning Akwa Ibomites, but the ones that made headlines were those sent in by the Governor of Akwa Ibom and his Commissioner for Works.
It is well known that media aides and those sympathetic to Messers Udom Emmanuel and Akparawa Ephraim Inyang, Governor and Commissioner for Works respectively have been exchanging salvos with those in the camp of NDDC boss.
So, for messages of condolence to emanate from such quarters definitely elicited praises and equally raised eyebrows depending on the camp.
Obviously basing their condolence messages from the press statements by Nsima Ekere and his commission’s Director of Corporate Affairs, the Governor’s statement carried that the accident happened at Calabar-Itu with only one policeman dying and Ephraim Inyang tactically avoided including the location of the accident while stating that 3 policemen died.
These disparities would certainly be blamed on the NDDC MD/CEO and his men who sent out wrong information.
Governor Udom Emmanuel sent a message of condolence same day the sad event occurred.
In a statement signed by Governor Emmanuel’s Chief Press Secretary Mr. Ekerete Udoh, Governor Emmanuel prayed for the repose of the soul of the departed and a quick recovery to those who were injured, saying “we thank God for the safety of our dear Brother, Mr. Nsima Ekere and others involved in the road mishap. We ask God to grant the soul of the departed eternal rest and a quick and speedy recovery to the injured”.
On Sunday, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, Mr Ephraim Inyangeyen commiserated with the MD over the sad event.
In a statement issued by Mr Inyangeyen, he wished Obong Ekere well and thanked God for sparing his life and that of several others who were traveling with him, even as he expressed confidence that, God, who alone has all the answers will grant the soul of the departed eternal rest.
The Works Commissioner commended Mr Ekere for the quick response to the incident by ensuring that the injured are receiving good and proper medical attention and assured him that he has the unflinching support of the Ministry of Works at this trying time.
Meanwhile, when TheMail reporter visited the scene of the accident last weekend, it was discovered that the petrol tanker and the police hilux which the four dead policemen used had been towed to a police station.
Speaking with locals and others who claimed to have witnessed the incident, it was discovered that Ekere’s convoy was at fault.
A local who gave his name as Daniel Nta said that the tanker driver had the right of way when and that it was the recklessness on the part of Ekere’s convoy that caused the unfortunate event.
Picture credit: Premium Times