By ITORO BASSEY
Some youths in Essien Udim LGA, on Wednesday, launched a fierce attack on Ekuri Felix, a former aide to ex-Governor Udom Emmanuel, during a thank-you visit to Ikot Ekpene senatorial district by Pastor Umo Eno to celebrate his recent emergence as Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The incident took place at Ikot Umo Essien, the country home of Chief Michael Afangideh, political leader of Essien Udim, where Ekuri and his team were confronted by a group of young individuals allegedly associated with one of the current government’s protocol groups.
The assailants were observed to have approached the venue of the governor’s meeting and demanded that Ekuri and his team leave immediately. One of the attackers exclaimed in pidgin, “till you (Ekuri) die, you no go work for this state again”.
The incident was captured on amateur footage, with one assailant was heard questioning Ekuri in the Ibibio dialect, “Why are you still in Akwa Ibom when Udom Emmanuel’s administration has come to an end?”
Another individual asked, “How many of these members in the OnlyGod Protocol Squad can boast of having one million naira in their bank accounts? Are you just parading them for show?”
The attack escalated when one of the assailants physically assaulted Ekuri, striking him in the face multiple times before he was rescued by his team members and whisked away in one of their buses.
Mr. Ekuri, an indigene of Cross River State, had previously held a prominent position in the security and protocol circles of former Governor Udom Emmanuel, leading the OnlyGod Protocol Squad which had allegedly received preferential treatment in protocol matters.
According to a reliable source within the government, there had been ongoing tensions between Ekuri and a prominent youth leader in the state who supposedly grew uneasy with Ekuri’s perceived influence on the Governor regarding security and protocol issues.
It was alleged that the individuals who launched the attack on Ekuri during the Essien Udim meeting were strategically placed there by influential members of the governor’s protocol team.
The intention behind this act, it was also gathered, was to provoke Ekuri into engaging in a physical combat, thereby painting him as a troublemaker, and so that it would subsequently provide Governor Umo Eno with grounds to disband Ekuri’s group.
When contacted for comment on Friday morning, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Eketette Udoh, stated that he was in a meeting and did not respond to subsequent text messages sent to him on the matter.
At of the time of filing this report, efforts to reach Mr. Ekuri were unsuccessful as his known contact line was switched off.
This reporter gathered, on Friday, that various protocol groups convened with the governor’s chief security officer to explore avenues for collaborative efforts until the governor discloses the appointments of personal assistants and special advisers.