A diversion by Ikot Ebak village in Mkpat Enin Local Council of Akwa Ibom on the dilapidated Abak-Ekparakwa-Ikot Abasi federal highway has been hijacked by hoodlums, leading to the death of five persons.
The diversion followed ongoing excavation of soil on a 200m stretch by the contractor handling the rehabilitation of the highway, China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC.
An eye witness account stated that hoodlums have resorted to robbing and kidnapping unsuspecting commuters plying between Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River states who regularly use the road.
The residents told newsmen that lack of security presence on the narrow community road, which has also become dilapidated due to sudden increase in vehicular traffic has led to increased criminal activities along the lonely route..
One of the residents, Mr Ekot Ita lamented that hundreds of unsuspecting commuters have fallen prey to the hoodlums who exploit the commuters’ ignorance of the terrain to rob and kidnap passengers.
He said in one of the incidents, a kidnap victim who recognised one of his abductors was killed by the hoodlums after the sum of N200,000 was allegedly collected from him.
Two other abducted commuters were said to have been killed by their abductors on Thursday last week because they could not part with the amount of money demanded by the hoodlums.
They have also expressed sadness over the timing of the excavation work by the contractor as doing so during the rainy season would make the work more difficult and longer.
The residents harped on the need for adequate information and deployment of security personnel on the diversion while calling for a more motorable diversion or alternative road.
Meanwhile some drivers on that route have resorted to using the longer but safer Etinan-Onna-Ikot Akpaden road as they could no longer guarantee the safety of their passengers on the Abak-Ikot Abasi route.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Odiko MacDon said the command was yet to receive report on the issue.
The Federal Comptroller of Works in the state Engr Nkeruwem Ukpong who spoke on the progress of work on the road said “I am just from the site, the contractor is working.”