By Dr. Tom Mbeke-Ekanem
Ibibio proverb says: “A self-possessed praedial thief, who in his conceit frequents another’s farm, must one day fall prey to misfortune and be deserted by the gods”. In Ibibio, this roughly translates as: Usen itiokiet enyene ino, oyoho itiaba enyene enyene ikot.
Folks, those of you who are in Ibom forum must have read the attached. The document comprised of all the 20 parts I posted in Ibom forum beginning August 16 through Sept. 7, 2018. I urge you to take your time and go through the document, part by part. You would understand why mushroom shapes like an umbrella. It is either wet or rainy in its environment.
The attached document is on why Godswill Akpabio hates and betrays Ibibio. Akpabio was put in office by the Ibibios. It is no secret that Akpabio was behind the kidnappings, tortures, and killings of Ibibio during the 8 years of his administration. Financially, he crippled Ibibios. The attached document is about Godswill Akpabio’s uncle, Ibanga Udo Akpabio who in 1950s was given scholarship by the Ibibio Union to study education in USA. After coming back from US, he was given a job as principal of Ibibio State College by the same Ibibio Union. Sadly, Akpabio turned around and betrayed the very people who trained him, who gave him a job when he returned from America. Compare Godswill Akpabio’s action to that of his uncle, Ibanga Udo Akpabio. It runs parallel.
Another Ibibio proverb says: “A person who does not know his past must contend with the anger of the future”. Feel free to forward the attached to as many people as you can. Note that this has nothing to do with our chapter. Rather, it has a lot to do with the survival of Ibibio as a people.
Akparawa (Dr.) Tom Mbeke-Ekanem
“A self-possessed praedial thief, who in his conceit frequents another’s farm must one
day fall prey to misfortune and be deserted by the gods”. Ibibio Book of Wisdom
Godswill Akpabio’s betrayal of Ibibio parallels that of his uncle Ibanga Udo Akpabio’s
betrayal of Ibibio Union in 1950s. This series looks into the betrayals, treachery, deceits,
and ethnic politics as perpetrated by the Akpabios.
Trail of Blood and Tears: Return of Ahab and Jezebel to Akwa Ibom
The earth-shaking event in anal of Nigeria politics is the Uncommon Defection to All
Progressive Congress (APC) by Sen. Godswill Akpabio. Recently, the National Chairman
of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole reportedly declared Sen. Godswill Akpabio
defection to APC as “uncommon defection” on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 at
“uncommon rally” at Ikot Ekpene where he also declared Akpabio the leader of APC in
Akwa Ibom. Oshiomhole had previously described defectors from APC to the PDP as
“Dishonorable politicians” while describing Akpabio’s defection as “a hero of democracy,”
“an uncommon transformer” and “a man of honor.” What a bundle of contradictions! What
a bundle of scoundrels!
In his response, Akpabio is quoted as calling himself a nationalist who has defected “to
defend the cause of a united Nigeria” while rejecting the label of a conspirator. He claimed
by embracing APC he would be able to bring prosperity to his people. Really? What is not
in dispute is the fact that Godswill Akpabio served under PDP as a Commissioner for 8
years. He served as Akwa Ibom executive governor for another 8 years under PDP. Then
served again as a PDP Senator and as a Minority leader for a little more than 3 years, all
under PDP. Who is this man fooling?
After serving for nearly 20 years in PDP it suddenly done on Akpabio that in order to
bring prosperity to “his people”, he must jump ship! This guy continue to believe that
Akwa Ibom people are gullible and stupid. Many are petrified with the mention of the name
Akpabio. Is he aware of the number of fatherless, motherless, and number of young men
he sent to early grave? How about those who still are unable to sleep owed to trauma
suffered consequent of UNCOMMON kidnappings and killings that turned our once
peaceful state into hell on earth? I have read so much about the name Akpabio being
synonymous with sadism, betrayal, wickedness; a man who derives pleasure by inflicting
physical and emotional pain and sorrow on others.
This write-up has no bearing with PDP or APC parties. Rather it is to call on those he
tortured and maligned for 8 years of his reign of terror to isolate Akpabio like a plague.
Akpabio is someone whose hand is full with innocent blood and he knows it. A lion can
never change its spots. Therefore, nobody in his right mind should think Akpabio is a
changed man. The story of traitor Godswill Akpabio runs parallel with the action of his
uncle Ibanga Udo Akpabio in 1950s. To understand why Godswill Akpabio did what he
did to Ibibios one must understand what his uncle did to Ibibio Union in 1950s.
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In 1927, Ibibio Union was born at Calabar. It wasn’t until 1928 that it was amalgamated
with Ibibio Mainland Association in Uyo. In 1935, arrangement was put in motion to offer
scholarships to 6 students selected from six Administrative Districts comprising of Abak,
Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Ikot Abasi, Itu, and Uyo. The final selection of the students took place
in June 1938. These were the students and their Districts:
- Bassey U. A. Attah – Agriculture – Uyo
- Obot E. Antia Obong – Medicine – Itu
- Ibanga Udo Akpabio – Education – Ikot Ekpene
- Asuquo U. Idiong – Medicine – Abak
- Egbert Udo Udoma – Law – – Ikot Abasi
- James L. Nsima – Education – Eket
During the selection process there were disputes in two Districts. One was at Ikot Ekpene
where Mr. Ibanga U. Akpabio was opposed by Mr. U. U. Ekam who was then the
Secretary of Ibibio Union, Ikot Ekpene. At the end, Ibanga U. Akpabio was preferred. The
other dispute took place at Eket where the Oron group opposed the candidature of Mr.
James L. Nsima, but without providing an alternative candidate except to insist that any
candidate chosen should be from Oron group.
Oron Withdrew From Ibibio State Union
The Oron group led by Mr. Isong, then a Native Administration Treasurer at Oron
appealed to the Central Union for intervention. Owed to non-intervention policy, the
Central Union declined to intervene. As a result of this, Mr. Isong decided to withdraw his
group from the membership of Ibibio Union with a view to creating separate scholarship
for the Oron segment.
The occasion of the successful selection of the candidates for the scholarship was
especially celebrated. Religious services were held in churches. Prior to the departure of
the students to schools abroad, Thanksgiving Service officiated by Revd. Grover was held
at Methodist Church at Ikot Ekpene. On August 1, 1938, the students departed from Port
Harcourt through MV Calabar to Lagos, from where they sailed off the shores of Nigeria
on August 3, 1938 in MV Apapa. In that way the first phase of Ibibio Union scheme was
In 1941, Mr. Bassey Udo Adiaha Attah having graduated in Agriculture in United States
of America became the first Ibibio Union scholar to return to Nigeria. In the meantime,
and unfortunately, the death of one of the scholars, Mr. Asuquo Udo Idiong from Abak
was announced from Canada where he went to study medicine. Taking the place of late
Asuquo Udo Idiong, was Effiong Udo Ekpo from Abak District who went on to complete
his study in medicine in 1958 before returning to Ibibio Country.
In 1943, Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio and Mr. James Lawson Nsima who went to United
States to study Education returned to Nigeria. Both were given rousing reception
organized by Ibibio Union at Lagos. After both had settled down, they awaited
Government approval for them to commence the organization and administration of a
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Secondary Grammar School at a site already selected and appropriated for the purpose
by the Ibibio Union.
In the meantime, both Ibanga U. Akpabio and James L. Nsima were appointed Joint
Secretaries of Ibibio Union. The site selected for the grammar school was at Ikot Ekpene.
Arrangement for the acquisition of a piece of land on which a school building was already
erected had been completed at Ukana along Ikot Ekpene – Abak road. In anticipation of
the arrival of both Ibanga U. Akpabio and James L. Nsima, application for approval for
commencement of the operation of the Secondary Grammar School to be known as Ibibio
State College at Ikot Ekpene was submitted to government. While waiting for Government
approval, Ibanga U. Akpabio and James L. Nsima were made Principal and Vice
The Government approval did not come as quickly as thought. About this time in August
1945, news reached Nigeria that another scholar, Egbert Udo Udoma who read law in
Britain had been called to the Bar in London and that in addition, he had been awarded
Doctor of Philosophy. This meant that Egbert Udo Udoma was both Barrister-at-Law and
a Doctor of Philosophy. This feat was first of its kind in Nigeria.
Ibanga Udo Akpabio Defied Ibibio Union Resolution
With the newly formed NCNC, Ibibio Union opted to join the party at Eastern Regional
House of Assembly at Enugu. This was seen as a wise move as it paid a handsome
dividend. By joining NCNC in early 1950, Calabar Province became prominent in the
Eastern Regional House of Assembly. This let to Professor Eyo Ita, becoming the Leader
of Government Business, a forerunner of the post of Regional Premier.
In defiance of the Order by Resolution of the Ibibio National Conference, lbanga Udo
Akpabio, Principal of Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, had voluntarily put his name
forward at the electoral college at Enugu and was elected as a member of the House of
Representatives at Lagos. With that win, Ibanga U. Akpabio became a member of not
only of the Eastern Regional House of Assembly at Enugu but also of the House of
Representatives at Lagos.
Having elected to become a member of the two Houses of Legislature in the country, it
became quite clear that Ibanga Udo Akpabio had chosen for himself an entirely new
career as a full-time politician, hence a full-time member of Parliament. His new status
was incompatible with his continuation in his previous office as Principal, Ibibio State
College, Ikot Ekpene – an office requiring full time employment, complete dedication and
devotion. The situation was so embarrassing to the Ibibio Union people as a whole that
curiously enough, it was the people of lkot Ekpene District of the Ibibio State Union who
were the first to register a protest with the Ibibio State Union as to the anomaly thus
Following this new status, in September 1950 Ibanga Udo Akpabio was rumored to have
threatened to resign as Principal, Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene on the ground that he
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had prepared himself to go into full time politics in Nigeria. Owed to persistent rumor,
Obong S. U. Etuk, a newly appointed manager of the College visited the school. It was
reported that on the order of Ibanga Udo Akpabio, some undesirable elements as
hirelings threatened to lynch Obong S. U. Etuk who managed to escape unhurt. Ibanga
Udo Akpabio would neither confirm nor deny the rumor of his resignation.
On January 19, 1952, to avoid being blindsided and in absence of the Principal Ibanga
Udo Akpabio who had been away in Enugu for the Session of the Eastern House of
Assembly, the Ibibio State Union directed Chief S. U. Etuk to go to the College and help
in the administrative aspects while E. S. Etukudo was asked to act as the Headmaster
of the College. On February 7, 1952, Chief E. S. Etuk appointment was made permanent.
The dual role of Ibanga Udo Akpabio seriously affected his ability to function effectively
as the Principal of Ibibio State College since he also had to attend to his constituency
duties. Complaints began to pour galore into the Ibibio National Secretariat, Uyo.
His prolonged absence also became a source of great anxiety to the Ibibio State Union.
It was becoming clearer that the activities of Ibanga U. Akpabio in connection with his
membership of both Legislatures were deliberate. It then seemed apparent that he was
no longer interested in continuing in office as Principal, Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene.
This might have been the reason he refused or failed to obtain for the College recognition
and approval for the Post Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations and grants-
in-aid by the Government, despite enormous sums of money spent on the College by the
Ibibio State Union for over six years since the College was founded in 1946.
Suspension of Ibanga Udo Akpabio
In 1950, as a result of the Commission of lnquiry which was set up by the Ibibio State
Union and conducted by E. O. lnyang, it was discovered that whereas lbanga Udo
Akpabio was appointed Principal, Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene at a salary of £360
per annum, he had in abuse of his office, placed himself on a salary of £540 per annum
without the knowledge, approval and authority of the Ibibio State Union. The high handed
manner in which this was done by Ibanga Udo Akpabio caused great discontent among
members of both the senior and junior staff of the College.
Senior students in the College were vociferous in their complaints about lessons missed
because of the absence of the Principal. Class Masters agitated against being
overworked and having to teach extra-subjects and extra-classes. Some Masters
threatened to refuse to take on extra classes or to accept extra responsibilities without
Some Masters were quick to point out that it was unfair for Akpabio to still retain his post
in the College as Principal for which he was still receiving salary while rendering no
service in return. What was worse, he was also being paid by Government as a member
of both the Eastern Regional House of Assembly at Enugu and the Federal House of
Representatives at Lagos in addition to whatever perks members of both Houses of
Legislatures usually received. Despite the incessant complaints by both Masters and
students of Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, and some knowledgeable members of the
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public, the Ibibio State Union was most hesitant to take any steps against Akpabio or
even to enforce the Special Resolution which was passed at the Ikot Ada ldem
Conference, prohibiting employees of the Ibibio State Union from offering themselves as
candidates for the general elections. There was, of course, the problem of replacement
in such a sensitive and strategic post as the Principal, Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene,
apart from other imponderables which had to be carefully considered.
Many important members of the Ibibio State Union, Ikot Ekpene District complained
bitterly of being embarrassed by the activities of Ibanga Udo Akpabio as a member of the
Federal House of Representatives. Some of the people felt slighted because Ibanga Udo
Akpabio would not listen to the advice freely proffered to him. Many of his supporters
even felt disappointed by the extraordinary manner in which he was conducting himself
since he won the general elections. They complained that he had taken to smoking
cigarettes – a newly acquired habit! They had advised him not to seek election at Enugu
to the Federal House of Representatives but to no avail.
On March 22, 1952, at a joint meeting of the National Executive and the National
Assembly which took place at Uyo, a motion dated Dec 29, 1951 filed by Joseph M. Ito,
a prominent leader in Ikot Ekpene District called for the dismissal of all permanent
employees of the Ibibio State Union who had stood for election, contrary to the Resolution
of the Ibibio State Conference. Armed with the motion, a letter of suspension was issued
to Ibanga Udo Akpabio, the Principal of Ibibio State College.
Despite that letter, Ibanga Udo Akpabio continued to employ himself in the College as
Principal and regularly paid himself his normal salaries and other emoluments as if he
was still teaching full time in the College. This attitude on the part of Ibanga U. Akpabio
caused considerable resentment. The impression was created that Ibibio State Union as
proprietor of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, was as powerless to bite as a toothless
bull-dog. Surprisingly, the Manager of the College, Mr. S. U. Etuk chose to intercede for
Ibanga U. Akpabio, pleading for the Union not to dismiss him. Meanwhile, rumors took
the field that Ibanga U. Akpabio was claiming the College as his personal property from
which the Ibibio State Union was not entitled in law to dislodge him.
Ibanga Udo Akpabio Waged War and Split Ibibio Union
lt was difficult to comprehend, let alone appreciate, the reasons that prompted Obong
Etuk as Manager, Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene to have interceded on behalf of Mr.
Akpabio although the purity of his motive could not be doubted. Mr. Akpabio all along had
adopted a direct confrontational attitude towards the Ibibio State Union in a manner
bordering on contempt. He did not appear at any time repentant of his defiant stance.
Rather, he was engaged in preparation, as it turned out, to wage war against the Ibibio
State Union as to the proprietorship of the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene over which
he, by the license of the Ibibio State Union and the grace of God, presided as Principal at
a generous salary, which was equivalent to the salary of an expatriate Senior Civil Servant
in those days. His motive was clear. It was at least to split the Ibibio State Union.
6 | P a g e
It was well known that he was already in close communication with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe
at Lagos, the then Editor-in-Chief of The West African Pilot, a vibrant, daily newspaper,
published by a company formed by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Mr. Akpabio considered it his
duty to keep Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe informed of the affairs of both the Ibibio State College,
lkot Ekpene and the Ibibio State Union. Realizing that he had no support in his new
venture of snatching the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene from the Ibibio State Union its
founder, proprietor and financier in both Ikot Ekpene and Abak Districts of Ibibio State,
Mr. Akpabio seized the opportunity of his regular visits to Lagos as a Member of the
House of Representatives to woo a group of persons of Ikot Ekpene and Abak extraction
resident in Lagos and to solicit their help. And it was not denied him.
As far back as July 7, 1951, the Ibibio State Union, conscious of the activities of Mr.
Ibanga U. Akpabio, in his determination to contest the general elections in utter defiance,
if need be, of the order of the Ibibio State Union in Conference assembled, and constituted
a new Board of Governors for the proper management and administration of the affairs
of Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene.
On September 16, 1952, for the first time a protest against the suspension of Mr. lbanga
Udo Akpabio as Principal, Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene was registered by a group of
persons resident in Lagos who described themselves as representatives of Abak and Ikot
Ekpene Branch Unions. In the letter, Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio was described ominously
and for the first time as the “Joint-Proprietor” of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, and
it was therein insinuated that Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio was suspended in an attempt to
remove him from the College so as to make room for the appointment of Obong S. U.
Etuk as the Principal of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene since the latter was known
to be a retired Government Senior Education Officer of considerable experience. In
addition, there was a suggestion which startled everyone not least the people of Abak
and Ikot Ekpene District Unions when the letter was read at an Assembly of the Ibibio
State Union. The suggestion was that the name Ibibio State Union should be changed to
Annang and Ibibio State Union. Apart from the recitals the resolutions read in part as
Be it resolved, and it is hereby resolved:
(a) That in the interest of national unity, the letter of suspension served on Hon. l. U.
Akpabio be withdrawn without further delay, and that he should remain the Principal of
the Ibibio State College.
(b) That in future in dealing with the College Principal, the Ibibio State Union should not
by-pass the Board of Governors or the Ibibio State College, to whom the Principal is
(c) That in order that both tribes constituting the State Union may receive equal treatment,
the word “ANNANG” should be added to anything which has connection with the State
Union, and that henceforth, the name “Ibibio State Union” should be changed to
“ANNANG AND IBIBIO STATE UNION”, this being the wishes of all Annang people
throughout the Country.
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The resolution was purportedly signed by 10 persons, 5 of whom purporting to represent
Abak and 5 purporting to represent Ikot Ekpene area. Curiously enough, the resolution
did not emanate from Ibibio State Union, Abak or Ikot Ekpene Branches in Lagos nor was
it ever brought to the notice of the Ibibio State Union, Lagos Branch as a whole for
endorsement as used to be the practice.
The resolution, it was found, could not stand the test of analysis. When on October 12,
1952, the resolution was read at an Assembly of the Ibibio State Union held at Abak, it
was totally repudiated by the accredited representatives of Abak and lkot Ekpene District
Mindful of the unsatisfactory state of affairs and taking cognizance of the near crisis
situation which had arisen by reason of clandestine activities of Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio
in connection with the administration of the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, a Special
Committee was set up by the National Executive Committee of the Ibibio State Union to
examine in some detail the administration of the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene
generally from 1946 to 1952 paying particular attention to the finances and accounts of
the College for the rendition of which Mr. Akpabio had always proved recalcitrant and
Ibibio State National Assembly Met at Uyo
Despite repeated requests, Mr. Ibanga U. Akpabio refused to cooperate with the Special
Committee. He firmly was unwilling to produce any of the books for auditing by members
of the Committee. He believed he was not under any obligation to render account of the
finances of the Ibibio State College to the Ibibio State Union. He began to openly lay
claim to the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene. He first asserted that he was acting as a
representative of the Annang Section of the Ibibio State Union in claiming the ownership
of the College for the simple reason that the College was sited at Ikot Ekpene on a piece
of land belonging to Annang people.
The claim was immediately repudiated by leading Annang personalities both in Abak and
Ikot Ekpene. For example, in repudiation of the claim, Obong Sampson Udo Idiong of
Abak on 13th December, 1952 wrote as follows:
Dear Dr. the Honourable Udoma:
I am pleased in giving you this letter. Very shocking indeed to gather the information that
a certain man by name Mr. P. U. Akpan has written and signed my name falsely in the
paper as one of the opposers towards the Ibibio affairs, particularly, the Ibibio State
College. I have this day to tell you plainly that regarding the formation of any meeting
joining Abak and Ikot Ekpene is not in my memory. In short, I am not aware of it.
If you are in touch with any protest said to be written by Abak and Ikot Ekpene and my
name appended on, kindly hold the paper firmly for I will surely put whosoever to the
Court for falsehood.
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There is no just reason whereas the six Districts contributed towards the upkeep of the
Ibibio State College, and just of late only two Districts as falsely alleged come to own it. I
firmly speak on behalf of my friend, Chief Jackson Ekot, that he is not aware of any
document made as a sort of protest to own the College. Now you are our National
President, if you over look this grave situation, a single man can kill someone and then
write the names of the innocent men for having committed the bloody act, and evidently
such men are put to death.
Your faithful friend,
(Sgd.) Sampson Udo ldiong
Assembly Passed Resolution Against Ibanga Udo Akpabio
On December 27, 1952, a National Assembly of Ibibio State Union was summoned at
African Church Hall, Uyo to discuss among others, the dismissal of Ibanga Udo Akpabio.
Once again, Akpabio never showed up. Nonetheless, a motion was moved by Mr. Effiong
Okon Eyo and was seconded by Obong Nyong Essien. The motion called for Ibanga Udo
Akpabio be dismissed forthwith as Principal, Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, and
thereafter be handed over to the Nigeria Police for prosecution on the grounds of
embezzlement of the funds of the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene which he had collected
from time to time without paying over the same to the Ibibio State Union, his employer,
and for which he had refused to render a proper account.
However, in a watered-down resolution passed unanimously, Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio
was forthwith dismissed from the services of the Ibibio State Union as Principal, Ibibio
State College, lkot Ekpene; that a civil action be instituted in court against him; and a
perpetual injunction restraining him and his agents and representatives from entering the
Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, its premises, halls, dormitories, laboratories,
classrooms, houses and grounds as well as fields; and ask for an order of court for a true,
accurate and full account of all the monies, donations, contributions, fees and grants paid
to and received and collected by Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio as Principal, Ibibio State
College, lkot Ekpene, or his agents or representatives for and in respect of the Ibibio State
College, lkot Ekpene from January, 1946 to December, 1952 be rendered and filed in
court and served on the Ibibio State Union or its representatives as plaintiffs in the action;
for an order of court that whatever balance was found due to the Ibibio State Union as
proprietor and founder, Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, after the taking of account be
forthwith paid over by Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio to the said Union; and for an order of court
for the return to the Ibibio State Union as founder and proprietor of the Ibibio State
College, Ikot Ekpene of all the properties, documents, files, books, science equipments,
etc. concerning and belonging to the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene by Mr. lbanga Udo
Akpabio, his agents or representatives. At this point, Ibanga Udo Akpabio was considered
dismissed. A case was filed in court against Ibanga Udo Akpabio and Dr. Udo Udoma
was prevailed upon to be the counsel for plaintiff, Ibibio State Union.
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Ibanga Udo Akpabio Dig-In, Spoiled For a Fight
It appeard rather incredible that a person of some university education of the stamp of
Mr. Akpabio would of his own volition knowingly and brazenly put forward such a false
and spurious claim to the effect that he was the owner of Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene
- a College the plans for the establishment of which and the name whereof- Ibibio State
College – were decided upon before even Mr. Akpabio returned as an Ibibio State Union
scholar from the United States of America. In the meantime, it had been known that the
school was to reopen on Monday the 19th of January l953. As a precautionary measure
so as to prevent the College from reopening with Mr. Akpabio presiding over such an
important ceremony as Principal in defiance of the order of the Ibibio State Union, a public
notice was issued on Saturday, 17th January, 1953, and pasted on the Notice Board of
the College informing the public that the College was no longer going to reopen on the
due date. The notice was signed by the National President, Ibibio State Union. It read as
“As from today, Monday, January 19, 1953, the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, is
closed down until further notice.”
The pasting of the notice at the College was considered by the Ibibio State Union as an
assertion of proprietorship. It was not expected that any reasonable person with sound
common sense who was familiar with the history and origins of the College would dare
On the January 17, 1953, as scheduled, the Ibibio State National Assembly took place at
2 p.m. at Ikot Ekpene. This site was chosen just give Ibanga U. Akpabio the last
opportunity to defend himself. Owed to tremendous interest, the Assembly was
overflowed. Large number of men and women were attracted to the meeting. Many stood
outside the Hall. The Assembly was considered so important that it was open to members
of the public. It should be mentioned that the order of the Ibibio State Union dismissing
Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio as Principal, Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, was widely
publicized, so too was the notice of the Assembly.
Just as the National President was called upon to address the people, one Mr. J. A.
Ibanga, a bicycle repairer stationed at Utu Etim Ekpo in Abak District, got up from his seat
and waving his right hand almost in Hitler Nazi-German fashion. He introduced himself
as the president of newly formed Annang Welfare Union. He then signaled for others to
walk out of the meeting with him. He immediately walked out hoping others will join him.
Not one person walked out with him – not even Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio. As soon as he
realized that he was alone and was being jeered at, as a lonely dramatist outside the Hall,
he immediately ran back into the Hall with some difficulty to regain his seat.
The Ibibio State Union Dignitaries In the Hall
The National President continued with his speech which was heard in complete silence
throughout. He gave explanations as to the reasons for the summary dismissal of Mr.
10 | P a g e
Akpabio by that great Assembly of Ibibio people, who were anxious to hear the truth from
the horse’s mouth. At the Assembly and as he spoke, the National President, Ibibio State
Union was flanked on both sides by Mr. Robert U. Umo lnyang, the First National Vice-
President, Ibibio State Union and the First Chairman of Ikot Ekpene County Council,
Obong Okon Udo Ndok, the Second National Vice-President, Ibibio State Union, Obong
Benjamin Umo and Obong lkpeme Akpan both of Ikot Ekpene. Obong Udo Ekong, Obong
Sampson Udo Idiong and Obong Jackson Ekot all of Abak; Obong John King Usoro,
Obong Jackson I. Arnah, Obong James Udo lbok all of Eket; Obong Reverend Efiong Utit
and Obong Thornas Udo Nsuk of Itu; and Obong Ntuen lbok, Obong Japhet Akpan Udo
and Obong Jonah Ukpe and Obong Sampson Ayara Akpabio – all of Ibekwe-Opobo;
Obong Charles Esu of Ikot Ekpene, and Obong S.U. Etuk and Obong Nyong Essien of
At the conclusion of the speech by the National President, which was rapturously received
and applauded, Obong Udo Ekong of Abak then called upon Mr. Akpabio to defend
himself by explaining the reasons for his unusual behavior in the light of all that the
National President had said in explanation of his dismissal as Principal, Ibibio State
College, Ikot Ekpene, pointing out that failure on his part to offer any explanation would
be regarded by the people there present that everything said against him was true for
which he had no answer.
Despite the appeal, Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio refused to say anything in his defense.
Rather than defend himself in answer to the charges against him, Mr. Akpabio merely
said on getting up that he would be able to defend himself adequately in court as he
understood that Ibibio State Union had resolved to institute an action in court against him
as regards the proprietorship of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene. He asserted that
already with the aid of a friend, he had retained the services of well-known lawyers to
defend him in court.
At that juncture, Obong Sampson Udo Idiong on behalf of the people of Abak District and
with the approval of Obong Udo Ekong and Obong Jackson Ekot stood up and warned in
no uncertain terms that on no account and in no circumstances should Mr. J. A. Ibanga
bring to Abak his new found Annang Welfare Union and that he had no mandate to speak
for Abak people. He stressed that the people of Abak were not interested in Annang
Welfare Union as they were all members of the Ibibio State Union, and had been
members from the inception of the Ibibio State Union because Annang and Ibibio are one
and the same people. Then speaking on behalf of lkot Ekpene people, Obong Benjamin
Umo supported by Obong Charles Esu also warned against the formation of Annang
Welfare Union which, in any case, was then unheard of in Ikot Ekpene.
On the 20th of January, 1953, ignoring the notice of his dismissal and in defiance of the
order of the Ibibio State Union, Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio went to the Ibibio state College,
Ikot Ekpene, and there at once set to work to admit new students and to register old ones.
He at the same time collected school fees as well as boarding fees from the students. In
the course of carrying out the work of admission, his attention was drawn to the public
notice which had been posted on the notice board by the Ibibio State Union to the effect
that the College had been closed down until further notice. On seeing the notice, he tore
11 | P a g e
it off the notice board and replaced the same with his own notice, which was printed and
which he had brought along with him. His notice read:
IBIBIO STATE COLLEGE REOPENED ON MONDAY, 19TH JANUARY, 1953. WORK IN
PROGRESS. ALL NOTICES AB0UT IBIBIO STATE COLLEGE NOT SIGNED BY ME
(Sgd.) I.U. Akpabio
JANUARY 20, 1953.
Ibanga Udo Akpabio Formally Lays Claim to Ibibio State College
From what had transpired at the Ibibio State National Assembly at lkot Ekpene coupled
with the incident of Mr. Akpabio, in defiance of the Ibibio State Union, returning to the
Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, and engaging himself in the admission of students and
collecting fees considered property of the Ibibio State Union, it became clear that Mr.
lbanga Udo Akpabio was prepared to have a “show-Down” with the Ibibio State Union –
an institution which had financed his education in the United States of America and which
thereafter had afforded him employment first as a joint-Secretary with his colleague, Mr.
James Lawson Nsima, of the Ibibio State Union and later as Principal, Ibibio State
College, Ikot Ekpene, without insisting on the refund of the costs of his education
overseas including transport costs to and from the United States of America. Incredible
as it might sound, it was as plain as plain could be that Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio was
determined to challenge and to fight the Ibibio State Union in court on the issue of the
ownership of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene.
Then on the 22nd of January, 1953, to the amazement of everyone, an article which was
written by Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio appeared in the West African Pilot newspaper,
published in Lagos but with a wide circulation throughout Nigeria. In it, Mr. Akpabio
asserted his claim to the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene as his private property.
Alongside the article, there also appeared the picture of Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio. In the
article, Mr. Akpabio described members of the Ibibio State Union as mere usurpers. He
stated that the claim that the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene was the property of the
Ibibio State Union was as false as the claim by the Ibibio State Union that it had educated
him in the United States of America by the grant to him of an innocuous scholarship; that
the Ibibio State Union was engaged in oppressing him and suppressing his achievement
as an American graduate in the field of education; and that he was determined to rescue
the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene from the claws of the Ibibio State Union.
What to everyone was most galling and nauseating was that the article by Mr. Akpabio
was supported by a powerful editorial in the West African Pilot of the same day, thereby
giving credence to the false claim to the ownership of the Ibibio State College, lkot
Ekpene. When contacted, Mr. M. C. K. Ajuluchuku, then the dynamic editor of the
newspaper and a Nigerian nationalist of the right stamp confessed that the particular
12 | P a g e
editorial had come from the top of the establishment. Then information was also received
by the National Executive of the Ibibio State Union that immediately after the meeting of
the National Assembly, held at Ikot Ekpene on January 17, 1953, Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio
had been driven in the car of Mr. L. U. Ekpo, then Secretary of the Ikot Ekpene County
Council under the escort of Prince Eket Inyang Udoh to Onitsha for a conference.
On January 24, 1953, Ibibio State Union put the machinery for instituting the action in
court was brought into full operation. Dr. E. Udo Udoma was contacted and he accepted
to act as counsel for the Ibibio State Union. He took out a writ of summons against Mr.
Ibanga Udo Akpabio in the terms already settled.
The writ of summons was filed in the Native Court of Ikot Ekpene. On the application of
Dr. E. Udo Udoma and the order of the District Officer, Ikot Ekpene, the case was
transferred in accordance with the procedure in those days to the Supreme Court of
Nigeria, then a Superior Court of Record with original and appellate jurisdictions
throughout Nigeria. The suit became pending determination in the Aba Judicial Division
of the Supreme Court of Nigeria within which was Ikot Ekpene District.
On the return day as endorsed on the writ of summons which was duly served on lbanga
Udo Akpabio in Ikot Ekpene, both parties to the case as well as their counsel representing
them appeared in court. It then became known that while Dr. E. Udo Udoma appeared
for the plaintiffs in the suit as representatives of the Executive Committee of the Ibibio
State Union, Ibanga Udo Akpabio as the only defendant was represented by two lawyers,
namely, L. A. McCormack, Esq. and S. Obianwu, Esq. Pleadings were ordered and dully
filed and delivered by both the plaintiffs and the defendant respectively. When the court
which was held that day at Aba was adjourned, Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio appeared jubilant
and boasted that he was determined to teach the Ibibio State Union a lesson or two. In
court, the case was listed as Suit No. A/4/1953-
BETWEEN: 1. Robert U. Umo-Inyang
- Chief Udo Ekong
- Chief Sampson Idiong
- Chief Jackson I. Amah
- Chief Benjamin Umo
- Chief Ikpeme Akpan
- Chief Thompson U. Nsuk
- Reverend Efiong Utit
- Chief Ntuen Ibok
- Chief Ayara Akpabio
- Chief Nyong E. Udoh
- Chief Okon Udo Ndok
- Chief Paul B. Okon
for themselves and as representing the Executive Committee of the Ibibio State Union
…………………..as Plaintiffs AND lbanga Udo Akpabio …………as Defendant.
Plaintiff’s claim against the defendant states:
- A perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, his agents or representatives and
each and every one of them from entering into the College premises, Hall, Houses,
13 | P a g e
Dormitories and Classrooms of the Ibibio State College situate and being at Ikot Ekpene
- Abak Road and there-in officiating as Principal or teacher in any capacity whatever.
- A true, full and accurate account of all the monies, donations, fees and grants paid to
and collected and received by him for and in respect or on behalf of the Ibibio State
College from January 1946 to December, 1952; and an order of Court for whatever
balance is found due to the Ibibio State Union to be paid forthwith to the said Union.
- Return to the Plaintiffs of all the properties, documents, files and books of the Ibibio
On the 27th of March, 1953, while the case was pending hearing in court, the National
President, Ibibio State Union, received a strongly worded petition from the senior students
body of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, in which their grievances against the
Management of the College were set out in some detail. The petition in part read as
“Sir, Words are inadequate and expressions are not very necessary at the moment when
life is dull and uninteresting. Immense thanks we owe you for your current efforts. Our
present state is pitiable, but having you as our confidant, we do expect a bright tomorrow.
Exclude us not from the realms of your sympathy.
They added that “the College instead of progressing is retrogressing, and as such we
have to draw your attention to the last result of the school which ranks at 10%; with no
option of taking Science as two subjects in the Cambridge Certificate Examination….,
that efforts of 90% of the students have been thrown head long into the gutter. The
students believed that these and other actions and inactions should earn the Principal
immediate dismissal and the entire management reshuffled.
Court Ordered Ibanga U. Akpabio to Produce Money He Collected
“A self-possessed praedial thief, who in his deceit frequents another’s farm must one day
fall a prey to misfortune and be deserted by the gods”. Ibibio proverbs.
On February 28, 1953 when the case came up in court after pleadings had been
exchanged, Dr. E. Udo Udoma, Counsel for the Plaintiffs, the Ibibio State Union, raised
an important point in relation to the administration of the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene
and complained that on January 20, 1953, the defendant, lbanga Udo Akpabio had with
some strange elements employed by him invaded the College, torn away the public notice
of the Ibibio State Union and had taken upon himself to continue to act as Principal of the
Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene and in that capacity, had admitted students and
collected from them a large sum of money by way of school and boarding fees, property
of the Ibibio State Union; and that on demand he had refused to pay over the money to
the Manager, Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, Mr. L. E. Essien.
After consultation, Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio’s Counsel, Mr. Obianwu indicated to the court
that his client had admitted having done so because he did not consider himself bound
14 | P a g e
by the order of the Ibibio State Union. Mr. Akpabio admitted that the total sum of £3,000
(three thousand pounds) had been collected by him from the students. Thereupon, the
Court ordered that Mr. Akpabio should bring the money to court the next day. Accordingly,
the next day, the sum of £3,000 (three thousand pounds) was brought to court and in fade
curiae the money was paid over to Mr. L. E. Essien, the Manager, Ibibio State College,
Ikot Ekpene and the National Chief Secretary, Ibibio State Union. Thereafter, the case
was adjourned to May 13, 1953.
Action Group Versus NCNC in Western House of Assembly
In 1953, due to the popularity of NCNC in Yoruba’s west, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Ibo man
who was the Secretary General of NCNC, took over the leadership of NCNC following the
death of Herbert Macauley, who was said to be the founder of NCNC as a political party.
Azikiwe went on to vie for the premiership of the west against Awolowo, a Yoruba
patriarch, the founder of Action Group.
As expected, Azikiwe’s NCNC scored impressive victory in the West. As the leader of
NCNC and a member of the House, his party was to form a government. Awolowo, the
leader of Action Group and the strongman of the Yorubas felt Azikiwe should not win
election in his Yoruba enclave, and he could not envision an Igbo man coming to be the
premier in a predominantly Yoruba nation. Be reminded that to cut into NCNC’s
dominance, Awolowo had made free education the cornerstone of Action Group, an idea
that was borrowed from the Ibibio State Union education scheme. During the campaign,
Awolowo invoked ethnic sentiments, telling his fellow Yorubas, “tiwa ni, tiwa ni” meaning
“What is ours is ours.” A day before the formation of a government in the Western House
Assembly, it was all by normal. Horse trading and cross-carpeting at its best took the
NCNC Lost to Action Group in Western House of Assembly
Night came, and when day broke, Azikiwe discovered his majority had vaporized. The
Yoruba members of NCNC had abandoned him. In today’s lexicon, they defected on the
basis of tribe to join Awolowo and his Action Group. Thus Awolowo was able to form a
government with his Action Group party. As an intelligent person that he was, Azikiwe
took to the only option at his disposal. He relocated to his Ibo enclave in Eastern Nigeria
where his fellow Igbos were the majority. There, he wasted no time. He organized the first
civilian coup d’tat in Africa and became the Premier of Eastern Region.
From that moment on, NCNC essentially became an Eastern Nigeria party. To claim
control of the East after losing the West to the Yorubas, Dr. Eyo Ita, the premier of the
East at the time from the Efik minority (was actually from Ibeno, near Eket), was
immediately ousted and replaced with Azikiwe by the Ibos who as a block were the
majority in the Eastern House of Assembly. Looking at the fact of that sudden removal,
evidence supports the belief by the eastern minorities that this incident was actually the
first civilian coup d’etat in Nigeria, indeed in Africa. The reasoning was that if Zik could
not head the Yoruba’s west, he had to head the East, where Ibos were the majority. This
action triggered the agitation for the COR (Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers) state by the
eastern minorities who felt a sense of alienation.
15 | P a g e
Origin of NCNC (National Council of Nigerians and Camerouns)
Later in April 1953, an emergency National Assembly of the Ibibio Stale Union convened
at the instance of Mbong lkpa lsong, to take place at Uyo in the African Church Hall,
Barracks Road. The idea was, if possible, to effect a reconciliation before the resumption
of the meeting of the Eastern Regional House of Assembly. After detailing what had
transpired, Dr. Udoma maintained that it would have been most unpatriotic of them as
Nigerians either to standby and connive at the political destruction of Professor Eyo lta
and Mr. S.J. Una both of Calabar Province. He added that what Dr. Azikiwe had done, in
his view, was virtually to destroy politically the most promising of the educated leadership
in the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
Those ministers, according to him, were expelled from the NCNC party which they
themselves had formed unaided by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in the Eastern Region in January,
1952, on the eve of the formation of the Eastern Regional Government without having
been given the opportunity of being heard in their own defense, and probably in
exculpation of their conduct, contrary to the rule of natural justice. Therefore, it would
have been foolhardy for them to have remained in the NCNC party in such circumstances.
The story told by Dr. Udoma was corroborated in every material particularly by
subsequent speakers. Mr. Robert U. Umo-lnyang, Mr. J. E. Ubom and Mr. D.U. Assam
spoke with emotion and vehemence. Mr. D.U. Assam, in particular, explained almost in
tears that he was one of the student founders of the NCNC as a national political
movement in Lagos when as a student at the then Higher College, Yaba; and that it was
a group of them as students in Lagos who invited the late Herbert Macaulay of Kirsten
Hall, Lagos, the acknowledged doyen of Nigerian nationalism, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe,
Editor-in-Chief of the West African Pilot newspaper to take over and manage the
Movement as a General President and the General Secretary, respectively, which offices,
they both had gladly accepted. Further, he expressed astonishment at how since the
death of Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe had taken over the movement and
converted the same to a political party (Udoma, 1987).
The Face-off Between Nnamdi Azikiwe and Prof. Eyo Ita
While Ibanga Udo Akpabio’s face-off with Ibibio State Union was going on in the court,
another serious crisis of unimaginable dimension was raging at Eastern House Assembly,
Enugu. Principally, this was between Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and his supporters led by
Kingsley O. Mbadiwe on one hand against Prof. Eyo Ita, his supporters, team of federal
and Regional Ministers and minority supporters on the other hand, all members of NCNC.
Akpabio’s case at the time had been adjourned. Dr. Udo Udoma and Akpabio at this time
were members of the Eastern House of Assembly at Enugu. Professor Eyo lta was the
leader of the NCNC party and the Leader of Government Business, a position akin to
Premier of the East. Event that happened in NCNC party at Enugu might most
appropriately be described as the first ever civilian coup d’etat in the history of Nigeria,
the impact of which reverberated throughout Eastern Nigeria up to this day.
16 | P a g e
Note that Azikiwe contested election in Western House of Assembly at Ibadan under
NCNC and lost. Following this political disaster, he took off for Enugu for the sole purpose
of personally supervising the reorganization of NCNC in the East. It was an extraordinary
battle of wits and of personal abuse. Zik might have thought by him just “coughing”
everybody would “catch cold” or tremble, or for that matter, fall behind him. Zik wanted
the Ministers to resign so that he could reorganize the party as he wished. But he was
Thus the reason for the split in NCNC was at first shrouded in mystery. If any outsider
asked to know why the Ministers were to be forced to resign their seats in the Cabinet so
as to enable Dr. Nnarndi Azikiwe to reshuffle the Eastern Regional Cabinet of which he
was not even a member, the code answer that NCNC Party supporters were permitted to
give was: “Because the Ministers had failed to toe the party line.” In vain did one
attempt to ascertain what the party line was which the Ministers had failed to toe.
Nnamdi Azikiwe with His African Continental Bank
But suffice it to state that the split in the NCNC Party had occurred partly because of the
refusal of Professor Eyo lta and his ministerial colleagues to make the funds of the
Eastern Regional Government, the Local Government and the Marketing Board available
by way of investment to the African Continental Bank, then known as “Zik’s Bank” and
under the proprietorship of a banking company formed by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Even
though Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe had appointed him a shareholder and Director of the Bank,
Professor lta had refused to make public money, which to him was trust money, available
to the African Continental Bank; because, firstly, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe had refused to make
available to him and his colleagues the latest audited balance sheet of the bank to enable
them to determine whether the bank was healthy enough for the injection of public funds
and the terms of such investment; and secondly, because the African Continental Bank
had not been licensed under the Banking Ordinance of 1952 to operate as a bank.
It also came to light that the purpose for the reshuffling of the Ministers by Dr. Azikiwe
was to remove uncooperative and unyielding Ministers from the Cabinet to be replaced
by willing Ministers who would be pliable and likely to yield to the whims and caprices of
Dr. Azikiwe, who was not even a member of the Eastern Regional House of Assembly at
Enugu. In other words, an intolerable attempt was being made to set up a puppet
government. The attempt was considered most despicable. The Ministers therefore
refused to resign. The only Minister who resigned was Dr. Michael I. Okpara who was
then Minister of without portfolio.
Because all the Ministers except one refused to resign their seats in the Executive Council
of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, on the instructions and direction of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe,
the NCNC Party declared war against Professor Eyo Ita and his Ministerial colleagues.
The idea was to terrorize and overawe the Ministers until they were forced to resign as
Ministers in the Executive Council of the Eastern Region. The Party therefore refused to
adopt the prescribed constitutional procedure for the removal of Ministers from the
Executive Council. Instead, the party decided, contrary to the advice of constitutional
authorities, to debate a motion of no confidence in the Ministers as a means of forcing the
17 | P a g e
Ministers to resign as a result of political pressure. Accordingly, “the motion of no
confidence” was debated in the Legislature for several days.
Azikiwe Expelled Professor Eyo Ita From NCNC
At a meeting of the NCNC Party Executive Committee of which Dr. E. Udo Udoma was a
member and in the absence of the Ministers, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe assured the members
that he would stop at nothing until the Ministers resigned their seats in the Executive
Council of the Eastern Region; that he was determined to put things right as the Ministers
were unfair and unjust in their dealings with the various communities in the Eastern
Region; and that the Ministers were known to be partial in the manner in which amenities
were shared and distributed in the Region.
Both Professor Eyo Ita and Mr. S. J. Una stood firmly against Dr. Azikiwe’s strategy. For
their sins, therefore, Calabar Province had to pay. In his reshuffling efforts, he allotted five
Ministerial seats to the British Southern Cameroun, which originally had only one seat but
chose to allot only one seat to be filled by E. O. Eyo to Calabar Province which was
believed to be three times the population of British Southern Cameroon. By so doing, Dr.
Azikiwe deliberately and contemptuously denied the NCNC Party members of the Eastern
House of Assembly at Enugu from Calabar Province the privilege, which he had accorded
the members from Owerri and Onitsha Provinces, of selecting even their only Minister.
This Ministerial appointment took everyone by surprise and afforded an incontrovertible
evidence of the application of double standard.
It was plain that Dr. Azikiwe’s action was designed deliberately to spite Professor Eyo lta
in particular and Calabar Province as a whole. Following the delegation by “Calabar block”
to Azikiwe with no favorite outcome, they begin to plan for mass resignation from NCNC
Party. As the No Confidence debate was on, Kingsley O. Mbadiwe, a Member for Orlu
Constituency, whom Dr. Azikiwe had nominated to replace Professor Eyo lta as Minister
of Natural Resources and Leader of Government Business, announced with fanfare that
all the ministers from Eastern Region of Nigeria except Dr. Michael l. Okpara had been
expelled with ignominy for life from the NCNC Party by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. The expelled
Ministers included Professor Eyo lta, Mr. S. J. Una, and Mr. Okoi Arikpo among others.
Ibanga Udo Akpabio Opts Out of “Calabar Block”
As the mass resignation by Calabar block was about being put into action, Mr. Ibanga U.
Akpabio pointed out to the group two factors that constituted an encumbrance that stand
in the way of him supporting the stance of the Calabar block. The two factors were:
(1) His having been dismissed from his premier post of the Principal, Ibibio State College,
Ikot Ekpene by the Ibibio State Union of which Dr. E. Udo Udoma was National President;
(2) There being at that moment pending in the Supreme Court of Nigeria of the Aba
Judicial Division a law suit between him and the Ibibio State Union in which again Dr. E.
Udo Udoma was the Counsel handling the suit in Court. Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio then
18 | P a g e
revealed to the astonishment of the group that Dr. Azikiwe had promised that if he Akpabio
would stay and steadfastly fight in support of the NCNC party he would be rewarded with
the position of Minister of Education.
In his response to Akpabio’s request, Dr. Udoma pointed out that the dispute between
Mr. Akpabio and the Ibibio State Union involved a number of sensitive issues ranging
from disobedience to insubordination, and from abuse of privileges to direct confrontation
on issues such as the foundation and proprietorship of the Ibibio State College, lkot
Ekpene, including refusal on the part of Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio to accept responsibility
to account to the Ibibio State Union for the funds collected by him in respect of the Ibibio
State College, Ikot Ekpene. Dr. Udoma then added that it was completely beyond his
powers even as the National President to arrange a compromise in accommodation of
Mr. Akpabio. When the quid pro quo sought by Akpabio failed, he Akpabio chose to
remain in NCNC Party. Dr. Azikiwe was not unaware of the friction that existed between
Akpabio and the Ibibio State Union and the tribal undertone since the time Akpabio
initiated contacts with West African Pilot, Azikiwe’s newspaper. Dr. Azikiwe surreptitiously
capitalized on the face-off in an attempt to break the Union, thus dangling before Ibanga
U. Akpabio the Education Ministry as a bait to lure him away from his other brothers, the
Testimonies and Supreme Court Judgment
On May 13, 1953, the Case of Ibibio State Union against Ibanga Udo Akpabio came up
for hearing at the Supreme Court at lkot Ekpene. Dr. E. Udo Udoma as Counsel for the
plaintiffs opened the case for the plaintiffs and called only two witnesses; namely, Mr.
Matthias Okosi of the Provincial Education Department, Calabar, who testified for the
Deputy Director of Education, Eastern Region of Nigeria, Enugu; and Mr. Roben Udo
Umo Inyang, who was the principal witness for the Ibibio State Union. Mr. Matthias Okosi
in his testimony, established that the Ibibio State Union was the registered proprietor of
the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, according to the records maintained in the offices
of the Director of Education at Enugu and of the Provincial Education Officer at Calabar.
He testified that the application to open the College having been made by the Executive
Committee of the Ibibio State Union as far back as the 29th of December, 1944, the said
application having been signed by James Udo Affia, General President and Roben Udo
Umo-Inyang, General Vice-President, Ibibio State Union on behalf of the Ibibio Union;
that the name of the person designated as the Principal of the proposed Ibibio State
College, lkot Ekpene, by the Ibibio Union was lbanga Udo Akpabio, the defendant in the
suit; that the approval to open the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene was communicated
first by telegram and then later by Ietter to the Ibibio Union on December 31, 1945 after
the Department of Education had been satisfied that the condition imposed, including the
execution of a bond to secure the sum of £1,000 yearly for the maintenance of the College
had been fulfilled by the Ibibio Union; and that the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, was
officially opened for the admission of students in January 1946.
In his testimony, Mr. Robert Udo Umo-lnyang as the First National Vice-President
narrated the whole story of the education of Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio in the United States
19 | P a g e
of America by means of scholarship awarded Mr. Akpabio in 1938 by the Ibibio State
Union; of the appointment of Mr. Akpabio as a joint-Secretary with his colleague, Mr.
James Lawson Nsima also an Ibibio Union scholar on their return from the United States
of America in 1944; of the appointment later in January 1946 of Mr. Akpabio as Principal,
Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, by the Ibibio Union at an initial salary, excluding
allowances, of £360 per annum. He testified that Mr. Akpabio subsequently promoted
himself to the Senior Service grade for expatriate officers in Government Service on the
salary of £540 per annum without authority, knowledge and approval of the Ibibio State
Union which event provoked a strike by the staff of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene,
in 1949, as was discovered by a Commission of Inquiry conducted by Mr. E. O. Inyang,
then Headmaster of the Enitonna High School, Port Harcourt, which was set up by the
Ibibio State Union.
He also testified to subsequent scandalous behavior bordering on insubordination
including the claim by lbanga Udo Akpabio that the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene was
his private property. After such devasting evidence, supported by documents, which were
tendered in Court, Mr. McCormack, the Counsel for the defendant, had to withdraw from
the case in disgust during a short adjournment. The defense was thereafter conducted by
Mr. Obianwu, his junior. On resumption, Mr. Obianwu applied to the court for adjournment
on the ground that he had advised his client, Mr. Ibanga U. Akpabio in his own interest to
have the matter settled amicably out of court.
Mr. Obianwu observed that Mr. Akpabio had realized after his discussion with him that he
had made a mistake in seeking to claim Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene as his private
property. Mr. Obianwu then appealed to Dr. Udoma, Counsel for the Ibibio State Union,
to agree that the matter be settled out of court as a means of effecting reconciliation. Dr.
Udoma agreed. Thereupon the case was adjourned by consent to May 26, 1953 for a
report as to the terms of settlement, which would then be the judgment of the court as
insisted upon by Dr. Udoma.
During the adjournment and at the request of Mr. Akpabio, a Committee of Mbong lkpa
lsong Ibibio was set up to undertake the settlement of the dispute in accordance with
Ibibio customary law and tradition. The peace-maker Committee met for a number of days
during which, according to custom it was feasted by Mr. Akpabio at lkot Ekpene in the
urban area. It was stressed that custom forbade members of the Committee visiting Mr.
Akpabio at Ukana, his home village, until after the settlement of the dispute when Mr.
Ibanga Udo Akpabio would be considered as having purged his misconduct. The
Committee availed itself of the premises of Mr. Robert Udo Umo-lnyang at Ikot Ekpene.
Two cows were slaughtered for the entertainment of the Committee and other Mbong
lkpa Isong Ibibio as a whole because what Mr. Akpabio had done was considered an
abomination for laying claim to the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene – a national institution
- as his private property.
Ibibio State Union Wins In Supreme Court Over Ibanga Udo Akpabio
On May 26, 1953, both parties and their Counsels appeared before the Honorable Justice
G. F. Dove-Edwin, Presiding Judge in the Supreme Court and announced that the case
20 | P a g e
had been settled out of court. The terms of settlement were made as an Order of Court,
and that since Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio had also agreed that he would appease Mbong
lkpa Isong Ibibio under native law and custom of the people, there should be no order as
to costs against him. The court of its own volition and by consent amended the terms of
settlement as to newspaper and the period of time given for the performance of the order.
By the Order of the Supreme Court, the Court: The following terms of settlement would
be published in the the West African Pilot or Daily Times or any other paper published in
Lagos, the Western Region and the Eastern Region. In view of the fact that defendant
has agreed to appease his people under the Native Laws and Custom, there will be no
order as to costs.
In effect by the terms of settlement as amended and affirmed, the Court decided and
established beyond question:
- That the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene as openly admitted by Mr. lbanga Udo
Akpabio was the absolute and bona fide property of the Ibibio State Union as its founder
- That from January 1946 to December 1952, Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio was an employee
of the Ibibio State Union at a fixed salary.
- That since Ibanga Udo Akpabio was an employee, it was part of his duty to receive or
collect fees, grants and other monies by way of donations or subscriptions paid in respect
of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, and was, therefore, liable to render a correct,
accurate and regular accounts of such fees, grants, donations or subscriptions to the
Ibibio State Union, such collections having been made by Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio in the
course of the due performance of his duty as Principal.
- That the Eastern Regional House of Assembly having eventually been dissolved on
May 6, 1953, preparatory to the holding of another series of elections, in the event, Mr.
lbanga Udo Akpabio should contest any election to the Eastern Regional House of
Assembly or the House of Representatives or both, then he was bound to resign his
appointment. Otherwise his appointment would be determined by the Ibibio State Union,
his employer. The decision of the Ibibio State Union in conference held at Ikot Ada ldem,
lbiono – Itu stood confirmed accordingly.
- That in the eventuality contemplated in paragraph 4, Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio, apart
from rendering accounts of the funds of the Ibibio State College, Ikot Ekpene, and paying
over whatever balance found still in his possession, he was also to prepare proper
inventory of the property of the Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, and hand the same over
to the Ibibio State Union.
The most noteworthy feature of the settlement was the fact that all the members of the
Committee who participated actively in the amicable settlement of the dispute over the
Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, out of court were themselves pillars of the Ibibio State
Union. Mr. Akpabio himself was conscious of the fact that each and every member of the
Committee was conversant with the history of the College being partakers in the
construction and development of the College from its inception.
21 | P a g e
The Ibibio State College, lkot Ekpene, was the fruit and the symbol of the unity of Ibibio
people everywhere and the outward product of the formation of the Ibibio State Union.
Therefore, the claim by any individual that the Ibibio Stare College, lkot Ekpene, was his
personal property and the result of his achievement and the fruit of his own labor could
only be described as preposterous.
In that respect, both Mr. Akpabio and members of the Settlement Committee knew from
the start that the so-called settlement was nothing short of mere face saving device
designed to save Mr. Akpabio from being totally disgraced in open court as a fraud. It was
necessary that there should be reconciliation between Mr. Akpabio and the Ibibio State
Union as the former was entering into the field of national politics. The Ibibio people
behaved as mature people should behave in the circumstances. There was no room for
“A self-possessed praedial thief, who in his conceit frequents another’s farm must one
day fall prey to misfortune and be deserted by the gods”. Ibibio Book of Wisdom
Godswill Akpabio’s betrayal of Ibibio parallels that of his uncle Ibanga Udo Akpabio’s
betrayal of Ibibio Union in 1950s. This series looks into the betrayals, treachery, deceits,
and ethnic politics as perpetrated by the Akpabios.
The Birth of C.O.R. State Movement
The fourth phase occurred, when, partly responding to increased Igbo domination,
particularly exemplified in the overthrow of the Government of Professor Eyo Ita in
Eastern Nigeria in 1953 by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and fellow Igbos. Following that civilian
coup, Eastern Region crisis erupted. The predominantly politicians from the Old Calabar
Province, led by Professor Ita and Sir Udoma organised the Calabar, Ogoja, Rivers
(COR) State Movement in 1953. The movement aimed to achieve self-determination for
the minority Ibibio, Ekoi, Ijo, Ogoni and other peoples of the Old Calabar, Ogoja and
Rivers Provinces through their co-operating to confront the Igbo domination.
By the middle of February, the debate on “the motion of no confidence in the ministers”
had gone on for so long and the speakers participating therein were so many that the
arguments being advanced became tedious and repetitive like a broken record. But the
NCNC Party supporters were unabashed and undaunted as they resorted to the tactics
of filibustering. Many of them tumbled over one another in the scramble for turns. Many
wanted to be seen as being loyal to their leader, Azikiwe, in full expectation of
recompense in the event the ministers resigned.
NCNC supporters, majority of whom were Ibos, resorted to tricks and artifices as the
means of exploiting the disunity seemingly prevalent among members of the minority
groups located along the Atlantic seaboard and other coastal areas of the Eastern Region
of Nigeria. Ibanga Udo Akpabio became one of such easy preys. The different between
Annang and Ibibio were exaggerated and highlighted. Similarly, such contrivances were
used to successfully induce British Southern Cameroun to detach themselves from other
22 | P a g e
minority groups in the Eastern Region of Nigeria. They were assured that they were a
separate people and would be separately treated to their advantage. They, therefore,
constituted themselves into a separate minority group whose claims were placed on a
higher pedestal than the claims of other minority groups indigenous to the Eastern Region
The representatives of the other minority groups, realizing that, if grouped together, they
constituted a majority compared with the representatives of the British Southern
Cameroun, reacted sharply. The Calabar block realized that for every action there must
be equal and opposite reaction. They as a majority group among the minorities became
even more conscious of their ineffectiveness in the Eastern Regional House of Assembly
because of ethnicity. They also became self-conscious; and expressed concern that
some of their members in the Eastern Regional House of Assembly were being ridiculed
for seeking to question the right of just one man in the person of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to
seek to impose his will upon the whole of the Eastern Region of Nigeria by trying to
compel the ministers in the Government to resign their seats in the Executive Council of
the Eastern Region of Nigeria for no just cause.
The impression was given by the Ibos that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe like Mussolini, the old
Fascist of Italy, was always right; that the NCNC party itself was an organization of the
major ethnic group in the Eastern Region of Nigeria and that unless one belonged to that
major ethnic group with which Dr. Azikiwe had identified himself, he was of no
consequence and did not deserve to be heard even in the Legislature of the land. In the
course of the debate, NCNC party supporters, Ibos for short, left no one in doubt that the
Eastern Regional House of Assembly belonged to their party and that the whole debate
was their show. Most of them poured abuses on Professor Eyo lta and his ministerial
colleagues, for refusing to resign because they deliberately did not want to make room
for them to take over their Cabinet posts.
They likened the holding of Cabinet posts in a Government to the game of football in
which each player in the team could only play for a limited time and must cease playing
if called upon by the captain to do so. They argued that since Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as their
captain had called upon the ministers to resign, it was their duty as ministers to obey so
that a new team might be fielded to continue the game. Potential ministers, having already
been tipped for the job, behaved like leopards and were ready to tear the ministers to
pieces for remaining obstinate and refusing to resign. They felt that it was the ministers
who had made it impossible for them to be able to drive in big American limousines, the
symbol of ministers, since Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe had already nominated them for the
C.O.R. State Movement for Eastern Region Minorities
The obstruction of parliamentary business was becoming unbearable; and the abuses on
Professor Eyo Ita nauseating, all under the pretext of parliamentary privileges. As a
reaction to the situation, Dr. Udo Udoma decided to open exploratory talks with members
of other minorities, namely, the Ijaws. The conversation centered on the possibility of
23 | P a g e
forming a separate state for the coastal peoples of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Such
a separate state was to be excised from the then Eastern Region of Nigeria.
Dr. Udoma suggested that such region would include the Old Oil Rivers Protectorate
established by the British Government for the Coastal peoples of the Atlantic Seaboard
in 1891; and which might most appropriately be regarded as the forerunner of the country,
known as Nigeria. The Oil Rivers Protectorate encompassed part of the territory excised
from the territory under the suzerainty of the Royal Niger Company, Limited and
Chartered and areas outside such territory. It embraced the territory in the coastal areas
stretching from the Benin River to the Cross River and enclosed peoples of diverse ethnic
origins. Apart from the Binis occupying the Benin River, roughly stated, there were the
ljos of the Rivers Province, the Ibibios and their derivatives, the Efiks of Calabar Province
and the Ejaghams, Ekois and Mbebes of Ogoja Province. Essentially, this is the area
encompassing Calabar, Ogoja, and Rivers Provinces stretching from Bonny River in the
west to Cross River in the East.
The idea of carving out of the Eastern Region of Nigeria a new state for the coastal
peoples of the Eastern Region as an autonomous unit within the Federation of Nigeria
was re-echoed by subsequent speakers in the debate on the motion. The repetition of the
separate state idea by many speakers, though encouraging to some members from the
coastal area, was somewhat startling to the Ibos members of the NCNC party. It was a
Soon after the conclusion of the debate on “the motion of no confidence in the ministers”
which was followed speedily by the resignation from the NCNC party of the “Calabar
block”, Dr. E. Udo Udoma convened a meeting of representatives of the minority groups
in the Eastern Regional House of Assembly at Enugu. Those invited, attended the
meeting with enthusiasm as it became obvious that there light at the end of tunnel. They
appeared already disenchanted with the antics of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and his Ibo
supporters in the NCNC Party.
A New Political Party NIP Formed
Towards the end of February, 1953, the Assembly at Enugu had to be adjourned sine die
without having transacted any business because the whole time had been spent in the
abuse of ministers, and Professor Eyo lta bearing the brunt. Before setting forth for Lagos,
by mutual agreement and common consent, all the ministers expelled from the NCNC
party by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and those members of the Eastern House of Assembly who,
in disgust had resigned from the NCNC party formed themselves into a new political party,
which was known and called the National Independence Party of Nigeria (NIP). Professor
Eyo lta was unanimously selected the Leader of the new party. The new Movement for
the creation of a state for the minorities along the coastal area of the Eastern Region of
Nigeria attracted considerable attention, aroused remarkable interest and excitement.
In the Federal House of Representatives in Lagos, the new Party was confronted with a
more serious crisis which was spearheaded by the Action Group Party under the
Leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The new political crisis at the Centre soon
24 | P a g e
assumed enormous dimensions. Quite unexpectedly, it developed into an ugly situation
which proved uncontainable. The NCNC party benefitted from the new political crisis. The
party which was as a result of the astute manner in which the political party crisis had
been handled in the Eastern House of Assembly, had virtually dwindled into
insignificance, bedeviled as it was by the paucity of members. Due to the crisis, it was
again revived. Some of the deserters from the NCNC party had to retrace their steps back
to the party because of a political alliance formed by and between the Action Group Party
and the remnants of the NCNC party under Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s leadership. The end
result of the new political alliance between the Action Group Party and the NCNC Party
was disastrous for Nigeria.
The Eastern Regional House of Assembly reconvened at Enugu on the 5th of May, 1953.
Under the climate, it proved impossible to transact any business. Dr. Azikiwe emboldened
by the “Awolowo Card” which he had deftly played at Lagos and his newly formed
friendship with Chief Awolowo, Ieader of the Action Group party in consequence of the
alliance between the NCNC and the Action Group. On the 6th of May, 1953, after the
necessary and due consultations and on the advice of the Executive Council of the
Eastern Region of Nigeria and by the power and authority vested in him, the Governor of
the Eastern Region of Nigeria, Sir Clement Pleass by proclamation dissolved the Eastern
Regional House of Assembly, Enugu. New elections were to be held later.
1953 General Election
Unlike the situation in 1951 in which most candidates in the Eastern Region of Nigeria
had contested the elections, unmolested as independents in the several constituencies,
during the 1953 general elections, three parties, namely, the NCNC, the NIP (National
Independence Party) and UNP (United Nigeria Party) had to compete for the votes of the
people of the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
During the election campaigns, the NCNC Party concentrated some of its heavy
battalions, guns, and artilleries in the minority areas generally, and particularly in the case
of Calabar Province, in the Annang areas of Abak and Ikot Ekpene Districts in a
determined bid to cause a pronounced split between the members of the Ibibio State
Union. The NCNC Party virtually gave up Calabar District Constituency having thrown out
Professor Eyo lta from the office of Minister of Natural Resources and Leader of
The NCNC Party was rather heavily financed. The African Continental Bank Limited was
then the property of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and his associates, the bank having been
founded by him for the purpose, according to him, of liberalizing credit for Africans. Dr.
Azikiwe was then considered a wealthy man. Indeed, after the “Jos Convention” of the
NCNC Party which foreshadowed and preceded the1953 political crisis in the Eastern
Region of Nigeria, it was announced with fanfare in the pages of the West African Pilot
newspaper that the NCNC party was the beneficiary of Dr. Azikiwe’s benevolence which
took the form of a huge largesse. The NCNC party was considered prosperous and well
prepared for the elections.
25 | P a g e
As regards Ikot Ekpene Constituency with particular reference to Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio
who was also NCNC candidate for the elections, many leading personalities in the
Constituency protested to no avail. National President, Ibibio State Union was
approached by a delegation led by Obong David Udo Orok of Central Annang with a
request for permission that Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio be not returned. That never
dissuaded Akpabio bearing in mind his connection with Dr. Azikiwe. Happily for the COR
State Movernent, the NIP and UNP were able to retain majority seats in Calabar Province.
On the whole, among the leaders of the COR State Movement who retained their seats,
mention must be made of Professor Eyo lta, Dr. E. Udo Udoma, Dr. Okoi Arikpo, and
NCNC Partitions Ibibio State Union Into Annang and Uyo Provinces
Sometime in 1956, it was disclosed that some supporters of the Annang Welfare Union
(Recall this name first came up during the meeting of Ibibio State Union at Ikot Ekpene
regarding the dismissal of Ibanga Udo Akpabio as the Principal of Ibibio State College,
Ikot Ekpene in 1953) were also demonstrably supporters of the NCNC party.
It was also disclosed that as a matter of tactics, Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio had refused to
publicly state that he was the founder of the Annang Welfare Union, while at the same
time he was still professing to be loyal to the Ibibio State Union. The reason for the new
development was that, accordingly Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio made it look like the Annang
Welfare Union was formed at Utu Etim Ekpo in Abak, a few miles away from his village
of Ukana. Tto promote “Divide and Conquer”, Azikiwe chose to woo Effiong Okon Eyo to
his NCNC party while dismissing other Ibibios. Nonetheless, Eyo was caught in the bait.
As a result of the new development within NCNC, the politicians promoting the Annang
Welfare Union had regrouped themselves; and in their fight against the Ibibio State Union
all efforts were to be directed against the unity existing between the Ibibio and Annang
people. Their new target was to fight for the partitioning of the mainland territory thereby
separating Annang from Ibibio people. In order to penetrate and have a free hand in the
affairs of Annang, the Government of the Eastern Region of Nigeria under the
Premiership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe had promised to create for them an Annang Province.
This would be the first province in Nigeria to be so named after an ethnic group!
To be firmly established, the Annang Welfare Union at some point was under the
leadership of Ekukinam Bassey. They had decided to work with the land owners to not
execute the Deed of Grant for the Ibibio Union unless the name of the Ibibio State College
and Ibibio State Union were changed to include Annang. Before their plan materialized,
the Deed of Grant had successfully been executed before the Magistrate Court, Ikot
During this time, it was speculated that NCNC headed by Azikiwe had also promised Mr.
lbanga Udo Akpabio that as long as Annang continued to put up a fight against Ibibio
Union at a high tempo he, Ibanga Udo Akpabio, would be the next Premier of the Eastern
Region after him, Dr. Azikiwe, who was planning on becoming the Prime Minister of
Nigeria at independence in 1960. The only ethnic group among all the minorities in
26 | P a g e
Eastern Nigeria that worked assiduously with NCNC was the Annang. All this sounded
and was political propaganda by NCNC party and was so treated. As promised, before
the end of 1956, Annang Province was created by Azikiwe NCNC government.
While speculation continued to mount that Effiong Okon Eyo had been paid by the NCNC
to work with Annang Welfare Union at Utu Etim Ekpo as a means of creating division in
the Ibibio State Union. Nonetheless, the worst offender in the attempt to create
separatism between Ibibio and Annang was Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio. It was difficult for
Mr. lbanga Udo Akpabio to justify his being willing, as an educated man for the sake of
public office, to be used as a pawn in the political game of chess by NCNC party
politicians. Of course, that was the temptation of newly found power. Akpabio in his
ignorance, which he regarded as wisdom, failed to realize that the formation of the Ibibio
Union was inspired by God Himself, who had ordained all things; and that the concept of
separate states for minorities in the Eastern Region was also the result of heavenly
inspiration, and an article of faith.
The Clash of the Titans: Effiong Okon Eyo Versus Nnamdi Azikiwe
Effiong Okon Eyo, the NCNC storm trooper had been made the Chief Whip of the NCNC
party in the Eastern Regional House of Assembly. He was also the Chairman Eastern
Regional Development Corporation (ENDC); and Deputy Speaker of the Eastern
Regional House of Assembly. His alliance with NCNC paid off. He was supplied with a
chauffeur driven car and a palatial residence at Enugu. All these came as a result of the
prominent role he played in achieving victory for the NCNC party during the political crisis
of 1953. On the one hand, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who was, by the grace of the success
in the NCNC party attained in consequence of the crisis, the Premier of the Eastern
Region as well as the Leader of the NCNC party of Nigeria. It was truly a fierce and stormy
battle staged between two strong willed and ruthless men seemingly endowed with the
strength of elephants; and as a result, the grass suffered.
This was an epic battle between Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the premier of the Eastern Region
and Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo. Sometime in June 1956, Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo was dismissed
from his office as the Chairman, Eastern Regional Development Corporation by Dr.
Nnamdi Azikiwe. Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo also lost his other political offices. ln leaving his
office as chairman, Eastern Region Development Corporation, Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo
raised an alarm in the belief that he was acting in the interest of the people of the Eastern
Region of Nigeria by accusing Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Premier of the Eastern Region of
Nigeria of having misappropriated the sum of about £2,000,000 by having the same
deposited and invested in the African Continental Bank (ACB) Limited in which Dr.
Nnamdi Azikiwe had substantial interest as founder, proprietor and Governing Director.
The sum of about £2,000,000 alleged to have been misappropriated by Dr. Nnamdi
Azikiwe was described as the property of the Eastern Regional Marketing Board of
The allegation was considered very serious indeed. On July 24, 1956, the Rt. Honorable
Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd the then Secretary of State for the Colonies announced in the
House of Commons that he had taken a decision to appoint a Tribunal of Inquiry to
conduct “a speedy impartial and full investigation as to the investment made in the bank,
and the grave allegations that have been made……”
27 | P a g e
Consequently, the Secretary of State set up a high powered Tribunal of Inquiry headed
by the versatile and highly respected Chief Justice of the Federation of Nigeria, Sir
Stafford William Powell Foster-Sutton Kt, C.M.G., O.B.E. and was popularly known as the
Foster-Sutton Tribunal of Inquiry into the affairs of the African Continental Bank Limited.
Other members of the Tribunal were Sir Joseph Henri Maxime De Commarmond Kt, Chief
Justice of the High Court of Lagos and of the High Court of the Southern Cameroun,
Vincent Akinfemi Savage Esquire, Chief Magistrate then Acting Judge of the High Court
of the Eastern Region of Nigeria stationed at Onitsha; and George Forrest Saunders
Esquire, Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales; J. P; Mr.
K.J. Hilton was Secretary to the Tribunal.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe Found Guilty By Tribunal; Eyo Quits NCNC
The Tribunal formally opened in Lagos on Monday, August 27, 1956 for the Settlement
of preliminary matters as to the procedure. It commenced sitting for the purpose of hearing
evidence on Monday the 3rd of September, 1956 and continued thereafter until Friday the
6th of November, 1956. After due enquiry, the Tribunal on January 16, 1957 published its
Report that concluded that Dr. Azikiwe as Premier of the Eastern Region of Nigeria has
fallen in his conduct in relation to the investment of the money, property of the Eastern
Regional Marketing Board, into the ACB Limited, below the Standards expected of
holders of such a high public office as the Premier of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. In
the language of ordinary Nigerian, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was found guilty of impropriety
and misconduct and therefore not fit to continue in office as Premier. He was considered
guilty of the abuse of his high office as Premier.
On January 19, 1957, the National Executive of NCNC, made up of mostly Ibos
announced that Dr. Azikiwe had agreed to “transfer all of his rights and interest in the
bank to the Eastern Nigerian Government which would henceforth own the African
Continental Bank. Attempts by Mr. E. O. Eyo’s motion for sanction of Azikiwe got not a
single support by any Ibo man as the Speaker of the House of Assembly ruled it out of
order. This meant that Azikiwe retained the support of the Ibos in the Eastern Region; for
they believed that he was working for them and so entitled to become wealthy. Azikiwe’s
political stance at this time clearly favored his Ibo tribe and the NCNC area of Ibibio State
Union which was primarily the central Annang.
Facing insurmountable odds, becoming “one against the Council” and having lost his lofty
positions in the NCNC party and Government, Mr. Effiong Okon Eyo quit NCNC and
joined Awolowo’s Action Group. Also, like a prodigal son he went back to beg to be
accepted back into the Ibibio State Union. His plea to be accepted back into the Ibibio
State Union was initially resisted on the ground that his NCNC party’s primary goal had
been to destroy the Ibibio State Union, thereby destroying the unity already forged and
existed between the Ibibio and the Annang which constituted the Ibibio State Union as
It was also argued that to accept Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo back into the fold of the Ibibio State
Union at the height of the storm between him and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1956 might
create the erroneous impression that the Ibibio State Union supported his allegations of
28 | P a g e
misappropriations against Dr. Nnarndi Azikiwe as Premier of the Eastern Region of
Nigeria. Therefore, it was advisable that the Ibibio State Union as a cultural organization
should steer clear of the situation. His appeal for re-admission into the Ibibio State Union
was to be kept under review.
Effiong Okon Eyo Accepted Into Ibibio State Union
Consequently, it was only early in 1957 on the eve of the general elections into the
Eastern Regional House of Assembly following upon a premature dissolution of the
House at the request of the NCNC Parliamentary Party so as to enable Dr. Nnamdi
Azikiwe “to clear his name” by appealing directly to the Constituencies of the whole
Region against the verdict of the Tribunal of Inquiry which had found him guilty, that Mr.
Effiong Okon Eyo was accepted back into Ibibio State Union. The decision to accept him
back into the Ibibio State Union was not taken lightly.
After a thorough examination of the circumstances of his case, and even though Mr.
Efiong Okon Eyo was notorious as a traitor to the cause of unity between Ibibio State
Union and Annang groups constituting the Ibibio State Union, on the advice of the
National President, Ibibio State Union, Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo was treated as Saul, was
treated to the extent that as a result of his experience on the way to Damascus his name
was changed from Saul to Paul by reason of his conversion to Christianity. Subsequently,
Saul’s weapons of persecution were beaten into plough shares for converting heathens
into the ways of Christianity. The difference between Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo and Saul was
that while Saul’s name was changed to Paul as a convert, Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo’s name
remained unchanged, and continued to haunt him during the rest of his life. It is well
known that after the conversion of Saul and his assumption of the name Paul, the latter
was one of the most outstanding preachers of the Word of God as revealed by Jesus
Christ and eventually evolved what is known today as the Pauline doctrine of the Church.
It cannot be denied also that on acceptance into the fold of the Ibibio State Union, Mr.
Efiong Okon Eyo, who when a Ieader in the NCNC Party was violently opposed to the
fight for separate states for minorities, immediately also embraced the C.O.R. State
Movement, that is, the Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers State Movement, which was virtually
being sponsored by the Ibibio State Union at the time. Soon after the general elections
into the Eastern House of Assembly in 1957 in which, as a member of the Action Group
in alliance with the U.N.I.P., he was successful. Mr. Efiong Okon Eyo became very active
both as a member of the Ibibio State Union and an activist supporter of the C.O.R. State
The National President, Ibibio State Union dealt with the whole gamut of the affairs of the
Ibibio State Union since 1953 after the political crisis at Enugu which resulted ultimately
in the overthrow of the Eastern Regional Government which was headed by Professor
Eyo Ita by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who subsequently became the Premier of the Eastern
Region of Nigeria. That unhappy episode, observed the National President, Ibibio State
Union, marked the beginning of the struggle by all the minorities in the Eastern Region of
Nigeria for freedom from the shackles of black imperialism. There was a general feeling
of insecurity and uncertainty in the air throughout the Region. Hence the spontaneous
decision which resulted in the formation of the COR State Movement which the Ibibio
State Union gratuitously sponsored.
29 | P a g e
Commission of Inquiry Into Minority Fears
As a result of the COR Movement, a Commission of Inquiry into minorities fears was set
up by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Eastern Region of Nigeria. While this
was going on, the National President, Ibibio State Union received an invitation to attend
a meeting at lkot Ekpene for the sole purpose of changing the names of Ibibio State Union.
He had no doubt in his mind that he was being blackmailed by NCNC party supporters
led by Ibanga Udo Akpabio. He saw the invitation as a bait and a trap because at the
material time the Commission of Inquiry into minorities’ fears was already in full swing in
the Eastern Region of Nigeria. To make matter worse, the same Annang elements in Ikot
Ekpene District had released a statement dissociating themselves from the rest of Ibibio
people who had sponsored the Calabar, Ogoja, and Rivers State Movement in their
struggle for the creation of COR State.
Some Annang elements in lkot Ekpene District because of intimidation by those who
feared to lose their jobs and other preferment with NCNC party, had avoided testifying
against the COR State Movement at Calabar, the Headquarters of Calabar Province
where the Commission had sat and taken evidence from all interested people in Calabar
Province. Instead, after the people of Calabar and Ogoja Provinces had given their
testimonies at Calabar, some Annang elements in Central Annang led by Mr. lbanga Udo
Akpabio and Mr. Ekukinam Bassey sneaked behind the back of the people of Calabar
Province by going to Port Harcourt in the Rivers Province and there they gave their
testimonies. In their evidence, they denounced the “agitation”, as they then termed it, for
the creation of the COR State. They proved themselves to be odd men out of step with
the people of Calabar Province. Hence, they were described by the National President,
Ibibio State Union as cowards and traitors to the cause of the people of Calabar and
Abak Stood Firm with Ibibio Union
The only redeeming feature in the treacherous and disgraceful episode, according to the
National President, Ibibio State Union, was that the whole of the Annang people in Abak
District were resolute; they stood firm, immovable and remained loyal and unshaken to
the Ibibio State Union in the struggle for the creation of the COR State. They refused to
be bought with money. They testified in support of the Ibibio peoples’ desire for the
creation of the COR State also at Port Harcourt in opposition to, and to the
embarrassment of the people of Central Annang of Ikot Ekpene District. To have raised
the issue of the change of name concerning the Ibibio State Union and the Ibibio State
College, lkot Ekpene at that critical moment was certainly a calculated attempt, a political
ploy by Ibanga Udo Akpabio and NCNC party supporters to do the greatest possible
damage to the case of a separate state for minorities in the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
To press for the change of name at that material time was a design to detract from the
serious problem of the struggle of the minorities for survival as free Nigerians. He had
therefore refused, said the National President to be a party to such treachery by the
protégé and beneficiaries of the bounties of the NCNC party.
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At the gathering of the General Assembly, considering what had been orchestrated by
Ibanga Udo Akpabio and a band of his outlaws, Obong Benjamin Umo, the Obong Ikpa
lsong of Amayam Otoro, lkot Ekpene, spoke in a rather solemn voice: “We started the
Ibibio State Union – six districts together as Ibibio people; and we were able to collectively
sent six Ibibio sons for higher education overseas. We worked together and were strong,
powerful, resourceful and highly respected by other tribes. How can we now start to divide
and weaken ourselves? Our neighboring tribes copied from us the example of unity, and
today they are far ahead of us; and there has been no division or disunity in their ranks.
The dismemberment of a once united people is the handiwork of the younger generation.
We older men who had started the work of building up the Ibibio State Union still staunchly
believe in the unity of our people, the Ibibio people, blessed of God.”
Obong Benjamin Umo then reported how he was approached by Mr. Ibanga Udo Akpabio
and his “gang of confusionists” to solicit that he should use his position as Obong lkpa
lsong to promote the progress and prosperity of NCNC party and that Government might
grant him official recognition. Obong Umo bluntly refused and also rejected a bottle of gin
he offered to him on the occasion.
Obong Sampson Udo Idiong in addressing the Assembly said that even the NCNC
legislators in Abak were quite conscious of the fact that they did not enjoy the confidence
and support of the majority of the Annang people in Abak. He stated that as soon as the
circular for the Ibibio State Union General Assembly for May 31, 1958 was out, Ibanga
Udo Akpabio and some other NCNC party supporters also approached him and prevailed
upon him not to attend the Assembly and even requesting that he assist him, Ibanga Udo
Akpabio, in preventing others from attending the General Assembly.
Ibibio State Union Assembled at Abak: Ibanga U. Akpabio Confronted
The people of Annang felt it was time they addressed Ibanga Udo Akpabio, all be it
indirectly, in their address without mentioning his name. In the Welcome Address
presented by the Annang people to the Hon. Dr. E. Udo Udoma, the National President
during the Ibibio State Union National Assembly at Abak on June 30, 1958, they stated:
“We, the Mme-Nkuku Ikpa Isong, Natural Rulers, Chiefs, men and women representing
the entire community embracing several organizations in the twenty-two clans of purely
Annang indigenes in Abak Division most heartily welcome you into our midst.
They went on to state inter alia: “…The Ibibio State Union was not an artificial creation
of political exigency, nor was she a child of circumstances born to buttress the growth of
an ideology calculated to extol the presence of an imaginary “Plenipotentiary”. But she
was a spontaneous divine creation existing for the strengthening of our ethnic
relationship. For from the very beginning our forbear and great grandfathers main stream
of the Ibibio people. We cannot live to see the Ibibio State Union sacrificed on the altar of
political jobbery. We therefore charge you to continue your good fight for the immediate
creation of the COR State for it is only by it that we can be delivered from the evil bungling
of the NCNC party government of the Eastern Region….”
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“We most confidently hope that the contents of the address will re-affirm our implicit
confidence in the affairs of the Ibibio State Union and our blood relationship with the Ibibio,
contained in our previous resolution published in the Eastern States Express newspaper
issue of June 10, 1958. We believe that our oneness shall receive your kind and warm
cooperation. You will, therefore, be impelled to ignore the false announcement of
separation made by the political hirelings and so march with us the Annang who for ever
and ever will sink and swim together with our blood relations the Ibibio in one Province of
Calabar, despite artificial creation of Annang Province, to freedom in the COR State.”
“With great confidence, affection and appreciation of what you have done and will do to
deliver our nation from the domination of other ethnic groups and their Government which
abound with crises, we wish you God’s guidance, pleasant and successful deliberations.”
“May you accept this address as a mandate to champion the cause of the unity of Annang
and Ibibio people and as a testament to demand the creation of the COR State in the
forthcoming Nigerian Constitutional Conference in London in September, 1958”. The
address was appended with several signatories.
Owed to Dr. Azikiwe’s conviction by the Tribunal set up by the British Colonial masters,
E. O. Eyo who was the Chief Whip, called for impeachment or resignation of Zik. Not a
single member, most of who were Ibos, seconded the impeachment motion. Eyo was left
alone, stone cold. He quickly realized the setup and betrayal by the Ibos. Nonetheless,
Azikiwe took the matter to High Court and sued E. O. Eyo for libel. This became a battle
of the titans or giants. At the end, the Ibos, who dominated the court decided in Zik’s
favor. E. O. Eyo took it as a personal loss. In utter disgust and with a deep sense of
betrayal and humiliation, Eyo quit NCNC and joined Action Group, the Yoruba-dominated
party. Eyo’s departure meant the last stronghold of Ibibio NCNC votes were debased.
From this moment on, the ENDC fund stashed in ACB became, essentially, Ibo’s money,
even though the income that fed the fund was mostly derived from palm oil and kernel
from the disfranchised minorities.
Azikiwe Deceived Ibanga Udo Akpabio
To the NCNC party, all hope was not lost. They began to focus more on Ibanga Udo
Akpabio who had been lectured by the Ibos that Annang was not part of Ibibio. Azikiwe
had promised that Ibanga Udo Akpabio would take over from him (Zik) as the Premier of
the Eastern Region once he (Azikiwe) became Nigeria Prime Minister with Nigeria
independence in 1960. Of course, the condition was that he (Akpabio) would remain
steadfast and work diligently for NCNC party. He did not disappoint NCNC.
In a typical Ibo-ethnic fashion, after the election, instead of Akpabio being appointed
Premier of the East as promised, the position was given to Dr. Michael I. Okpara.
However, Ibanga U. Akpabio, was later compensated with a ministerial position. Akpabio
eventually cut off all political ties with Eyo, vis-a-vis, the Ibibios, and faithfully remained
with the Ibos’ NCNC. In addition, he was also rewarded with a handsome financial
package, enough to build Independence High School at Ukana to compete or take the
luster out of Ibibio State College also located at Ukana!
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Annang Province Created
To further punish Eyo and Ibibio for deserting NCNC, the Ibos adopted political
gerrymandering by creating more provinces out of the former Calabar province. In the
later creation by the NCNC government, Annang was rewarded with its own province
named Annang Province made up of then Ikot Ekpene and Abak divisions, “courtesy” of
Ibanga U. Akpabio. Also created were Calabar, Ogoja, and Uyo Provinces. Uyo Province
was supposedly created for the Ibibios. This was comprised of then Uyo, Etinan, Eket
including Oron, Opobo, and Enyong including Itu divisions. As can be seen, this creation
gave Annang unfair political and economic advantage over the Ibibios. This creation was
contained in the Resolution on Annang Province as gazetted in the Government
Sessional Paper No. 3 of 1958 which was accepted by the Annang people of lkot Ekpene.
Notice that the name was not by chance. Dr. Azikiwe purposely named the new province
“Annang” Province rather than naming after a city such as Ikot Ekpene or Abak like the
rest of the provinces. The idea here was to reiterate the division between Annang and
Ibibio, hence, it was given ethnic name in order to kill Ibibio State Union. This turned out
to be the only province in the country named as such. Imagine Efik Province, Ejagham
Province, or Ibibio Province. Again because of Ibanga U. Akpabio’s role and antecedents,
Annang, whose population was less than a third of Ibibio’s, was stripped from the Ibibio,
hence reaffirming the policy of divide and conquer.
With the transfer of the funds to ACB firmly in the hands of the Ibos, the system essentially
became Ibo’s affair rather than Eastern Region affair. Much of the trading that the Ibos
are engaging today took off from that era. Aba was transformed into an industrial town
that saw the establishment of a brewery, soap, pharmaceutical, and textile factories. In
1957, the Nkalagu cement factory was established.
It should be noted, as long as one was an Ibo man, chunks of ENDC loans from ACB
were his for keep by just asking. Other minorities and Ibibios were kept out of the fund
partly because of the minority stance. Ibos used most of the funds to buy lands and set
up buildings in places like Port Harcourt, Ikot Ekpene, and Calabar. Most of the houses
were later seized in a place like Port Harcourt city and the environs, after Ibos lost the
Biafran war. This seizure led to what had become known as Abandoned Property
Declaration. That less than 5% of Ibibios sided with the Ibos’ Biafran gamble is rooted in
large part on Dr. Azikiwe’s doctrine as embraced and amplified by Ibanga Udo Akpabio.
It is important to note that as the Biafran war broke out in 1967, Ibibio and Annang would
pay dearly for being in either Action Group or NCNC party. A seed of discord between
Annang and Ibibio had been sown from this era. Ibibio State Union, Ibibio State College,
all political parties and all cultural and ethnic organizations in Nigeria were proscribed by
Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi military government via the Public Order Decree No. 33 of
1966 on the 24th of May, 1966.
“A person who does not know his past must contend with the anger of the future.” Ibibio
Book of proverbs