For publishing what is considered a "distortion of historical reality and outright falsehood,â€ a lecturer with the University of Uyo stands the risk of being prosecuted except he tenders an unreserved apology to the people of Ikono and Ini Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State.
Accordingly, they have issued a seven-day ultimatum to the author to apologize over what they described as "willfully associating us with the ill-fated project without our authorizationâ€ or be ready to face legal action.
The bone of contention is a book entitled Ikono- The Cradle of Ibibio Nation: A Refutation by Dr Uwem Jonah Akpan, a lecturer and historian in the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State. The elders made up of paramount rulers, chiefs, leaders of thought and stakeholders from the concerned local government areas say the book is in sour taste and offends their history.
In the book, they claimed that the said author, Dr Akpan "alleges that we the undersigned royal fathers 'lent (our) rich traditional insights to enrich this work,â€ which they dismissed as being false.
The royal fathers reportedly linked in the said book are the village heads of Nnung Ukim Ikot Etefia, Uyo Obio, Ediene Atai, Ikot Oku Ediene, Ikot Antem, Ikot Nseyen, Mbiakpa Ibakesi, Ukpum Ita and Ikot Idaha.
Speaking at a press conference at NUJ Press Centre, Information Drive, Off IBB Way, Uyo on Friday, Eteidung Ntok Ntok, the village head of Ukpum Ita said, "We hereby state categorically and without any ambiguity that we were (and still are) not a part of this contrivance and concoction of lies aimed at disparaging us, our people and our royal heritage.â€
According to him, "Therefore, by this public statement, we completely disassociate ourselves, individually and collectively, from Dr Uwem Jonah Akpan's ill-intentioned and self-seeking project, which is a complete distortion of facts in a desperate attempt to rewrite a well-known and time-honoured history of Ibibio people.â€
Ntok said that the book has flouted known ethics and niceties of academic tradition and norms, rejecting the use of negative profiling of communities, negative stereotyping of groups of people, invectives, contemptuous and other negative words and phrases to describe persons, groups and places. He cited the author's use of some assertion and remarks which completely gives him out as being biased in his work. They listed such expressions to include, 'so-called,' 'These non-historians,' 'Amateurish and overzealous writer,' 'liars who think that 'a lie repeated often would come to be accepted as truth,' 'conjectured work of history by non-historians,' 'contents of the book which are certainly cheap, unfounded, imaginary, misleading, false information.â€
The royal father said the author showed nauseating disdain to Ikono-Ini Elders particularly Professor Jimmy Umoh, Ukpong, Akpan and Akang, roping nine Ikono-Ini royal fathers without their authorisation, and alleging that a pet project of Mboho Ndito Ikono Ndo Ini was sponsored by 'a tiny Ibiaku Ikono elite and beneficiaries of juicy political offices during the Arc (Obong) Victor Attah's administration, who wanted to elongate the opportunities through the false idea of ntippe Ibibio.â€
Other distortions, according to him, include desecrating and degrading deity by alluding to it as "sub-Etefiaâ€ and taking photographs of its shrine for public display, situating Iso Etefia in Ikot Idaha instead of Nung Ukim Ikot Etefia and poh-poohing the authors of Ikono: The Cradle of Ibibio and extolling the virtues of E.W. Amamkpa, a Geography Major/Teacher who taught in various secondary schools including Lutheran High School, Obot Idim.
The royal father appealed to the vice-chancellor and Senate of the University of Uyo to investigate these claims and call the said author, Dr Uwem Akpan, to order.
He also called on the public to ignore the work seen as a concerted attempt by a supposed historian who does not know how to carry out research in his field of study.
"The status of the present Ikono and Ini Local Government Areas as the cradle of Ibibio people has never been in doubt. This position was well documented by all the paramount rulers of Ibibio land and presented to the Federal Government through the Ali Akilu Commission in 1970 and to the late General Sani Abacha during the agitation for the creation of new states in the country.
"We know that rigorous scholarship can yield new information and results but the effort of Dr Uwem Akpan is intellectual terrorism, a serious minds-war against the people of Ikono in the two frontiers local government area of Ini and Ikono in Akwa Ibom State,â€ he submitted.
Earlier, Dr Martin Akpan, Dr David Ukpong and Akpan Akang; prominent sons of Ikono and Ini, had written a book entitled Ikono- The Cradle of Ibibio Nation.
In attendance at the press conference were the paramount ruler of Ikono, Edidem Nyong Obop; Obong John Inyang Akpan, a clan head who represented the paramount ruler of Ini, Obong Sunday Udo Akpan, a one-time state commissioner for finance; Emmanuel Akpanobong, a medical practitioner and secretary of Ibibio Elders Forum; and Dr Martin Akpan, the chairman of Akwa Ibom State Primary Health Care Services Board.
Others were Elder George Akpabio, a retired permanent secretary; Christopher Ekpenyong, a medical practitioner; Dr Udeme Nana, a senior lecturer in Akwa Ibom Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua; and Barr Samuel Akpan, a lecturer at the University of Uyo.