… As houses, economic trees sink down, ecosystem collapse
… Residents cry for help
By Saviour Ekpe
The people of Ikot Ekong in Mkpat Enin woke up Saturday, the 24th day of February, 2018 to see a different picture of their community rather than the usual as they, their generations yet unborn will not forget the incident in a haste. The preceding day to this ugly incident was Friday, the 23rd day of February, 2018 by about 8pm as people were preparing to go to bed, others were fast asleep when the people of Ikot Ekong had an unusual windstorm occasioned by heavy thundering, rain and an overbearing lightning. The incidence, which naturally evoke unexplained fear, panic and forced many people out of their abode to seek for refuge at where there was none as everyone screamed, wailed and cried aloud, yet, their cry only ended within the four walls of the community as people, for fear of death were shouting ‘Jesus’, ‘Jesus’, though the name helped them in sparing lives only property and other material items that could not shout ‘Jesus’ perished in the tsunamic happening. That night, everybody including those that have never attended a place of worship had a compulsory night vigil since none knew the next happening as even the night was ‘longer than necessary’.
On the cock crew of Saturday, everyone was scrambling to see their loved ones only to discover that despite the gravity of the devastation, no life was lost but their economic trees such as mongo, pears, pawpaw, banana, plantain and orange were hewn down by the mighty wind. When newsmen arrived and were conducted round the scene of the incidence, we discovered that there was no building that was not touched by the happening, but the degree of effect only vary from one building to the other. Only one church building was sighted to have not affected at all but all others were affected in one way or the other. Worst hit of the church buildings were King Globe Church; The Apostolic Church (Obot Mfon); Assemblies of God; Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints; Qua Iboe Church; AME Zion Church among others; electric poles were seen broken down, market stalls destroyed; public institutions such as Ikpa Ibom Comprehensive Secondary school as well as St. Patrick’s Primary School were damaged. Casualty was not only experienced by the people of Ikot Ekong but affected other communities such as Atannuk, Ikot Obio Ekpong, Ibotio and Ndon villages though with mild casualties while Ikot Ekong was the worst hit.
When interacted with members of the community who were counting their loses said that it will take years for them to get back economic trees and real life to be restored to them. They called on the Akwa Ibom State government through the office of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA); federal government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA); multinational companies; public spirited individuals to come to their aid by providing them with relief materials and other assistance to rebuild their houses and communities.
Though the cause of the incident was variously attributed to the fact that some people must have offended God through their acts, others thought that the gods of the land must have been disobeyed while many said that “something must have evoked this happening, it is not ordinary”. But the village head, a retired military officer, Eteidung Raymond Udia said that “this is the first time we experience this kind of event”.
Investigations carried out by Century Newsfront revealed that the incident is not unconnected to an mysterious tree that is adjudged to have outlived many centuries by name, “Afriyo”. According to finding, a community leader from the area who pleaded anonymity revealed that the said mysterious tree was initially located at Ikot Akpaden still in Mkpat Enin until the villagers threatened to cut it down and the tree, which stomach an axe in it mysteriously disappeared from its original place to the present location at Ikot Ekong village. Information has it that on October, 2017 there arose a brawl in the community on the original ownership of the tree, which according to our source, nobody that can get near the tree but stands or plants some distance away from the mysterious tree around its circumference. Akpan Ntuk family in whose land the mysterious tree situates threatened to cut down the mysterious tree, when the village council invited them to explain their claims; they headed to Ikpa Ibom District Court in Ukam that decided in favour of the family on Monday February 19, 2018. Century Newsfront gathered that soon after the Court decision, the Akpan Ntuk family made some sacrifices on the 23rd of February, 2018 and concluded the arrangement to cut down the mysterious tree the following day. Our source noted that on the 23rd by around 8pm, the disaster struck.
When Century Newsfront visited Ikot Akpaden, the community of the said mysterious tree was initially located, a 61 year old family head of Ekpuk Akpaden who has successively served as village council chairman as well as youth leader in the community, Chief Macauley Matthew Uko confirmed that the said story about the mystery tree is true as they were born to hear their grandparents talked about it. In his word, “our grandparents said that their parents used to go and see this tree at Ikot Ekong after it had moved there. This tree is not an ordinary tree”, he remarked. Also a youth leader in the area, Mr. Victor Ufot Philip who also lend his voice to it said that the said tree is a mysterious one, that was why it could migrate from its original location to somewhere else, “everybody in this community is aware of the story of the mystery tree”.
As Century Newsfront contacted a family member of the original owner of the mysterious tree, Elder Udo Umoh Peter who also confirmed the story told Century Newsfront that their family did not only suffer the loss of the mysterious tree, added that there was yet another mysterious tree, which this particular tree, he was born to see as a child then, “one day, our parents woke up to see a tree on our family land, huge in size, after some years a member of our family who wanted to build his house paid some people to hew down the tree to use it for the building of his house, while planning to do that, two of his children died mysteriously, most members of their family were sick, the land could no more yield or good for farming and when they consulted a soothsayer, they were told that the tree was the cause of it. After series of sacrifices, some members of the community volunteered and cut the tree down and the plague stayed from the land”, the man narrated.
Findings carried out by Century Newsfront revealed that there are similar mysterious sites in Akwa Ibom State. For instance, there are three mysterious site in Ukanafun local government area namely: Blue and white River at Edem Idim village; Nyoho Ntak Stream (water gotten from this stream cannot be hot even it is boiled for years); forest of skulls (where skulls of people suspected to have died of mbiam are either accepted or rejected). Mysterious canoe tree in Mkpat Enin local government area. The tree was at a community in Ikot Abasi local government area was cut down by canoe makers and started carving canoe from one of its logs. in the evening they left to resume the following day but that night, the tree re-assembled all its cut logs, branches and leaves, trajected to its present position at triangular (‘T’) junction bush where three villages of Oniong, Ikot Esen and Nyadiong meet at Oniong-Iman rd, Ikot Esen Akpan Ntuen, Mkpat Enin local government area. Others include, mysterious Wall Tree (ekom) at Ekom Iman in Etinan; healing water in Itu. The list is endless and numerous.