May 26, 2024

Aftermath of Ilaje/Ibeno clash: Ilaje reject host community conditions for reintegration

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Ini Billie, Uyo

Mkpanak community in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have given conditions for the Ilaje residents displaced during a clash with the indigenes to return to the community.

It was gathered that over 10,000 Ilaje residents, most of whom are still hanging around church premises and fuel stations in Eket LGA were displaced in the communal clash which broke out on April 19, 2022.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Odiko Macdon, said that only one person died in the clash that witnessed the wanton destruction of property.

In a two-page document, the host community spelt out conditions for the Ilaje reintegration into the community, which include boat management and landing fees, fishing expedition and community responsibilities.

It stated that no visitors, or non-indigenes of Ibeno will buy directly from any fishing boat at the beach and anyone liable will pay a fine of N20,000 only.

It added that all catches including crayfish and other fishes up to five basins will be sold at the ratio of 2:3 to Mkpanak and Ilaje women.

“Catches from Tilapia draw nets will be bought by Ibeno LG women at the ratio aforementioned. Ibeno indigenes will have the first right of refusal of buying from any boats at any location. 

“All crayfish and other fishes measured in basins or in whole will attract compulsory sale tax of N300 only payable to Ibeno women association with receipt,” the document read.

However, a representative of the Ilaje people, Mr James Ajele said they would not abide by the conditions stipulated in the documents, saying the Ilaje were not comfortable with some of the demands in the document.

Ajele, who sought a review of the demands appealed to the state and Ibeno LGA to intervene.

llaje spokesperson, Mr Golden Ogungbemi, said they had yet to return to the community as the state government is yet to fulfil her promise to come to their rescue.

“We have not seen what is much on the ground by the government. All the government did was to provide relief materials. At a point, the government proposed a memorandum of understanding between the Ilaje people and the Ibeno people who are our hosts, but so far nothing has been done.

“Our condition is just the same as when the incident happened. It is really unfortunate that we are witnessing this in our own country. The constitution of this country provides that as a Nigerian, you can live anywhere you choose to lawfully and it includes the right to own property.

“But it is so unfortunate that for the past 35 years or more, we have been living in Ibeno terminal specifically. We noticed on that fateful day that irate youths took over the Yoruba community.

“All the wealth and property that we acquired over the years were taken away within a twinkle of an eye and since then we have been suffering from the pangs of hunger. You can see hunger on the faces of our people yet the government hasn’t done anything to alleviate our sufferings.

“What we are saying is that the amiable Governor of Akwa Ibom State should intervene. We want the governor to put us back in our businesses. What is so important to an Ilaje person is the source of his livelihood which is the outboard engines.

“At the time of the incident, Ibeno youths targeted our outboard engines, over 500, burnt some and took some away, especially the ones that were newly bought. “We are told that the Ibeno youths sold our outboard engines for N200,000 and N300,000 to make quick money.

“This is something we bought from our hard-earned money at the rate of N2.450 million per unit,” he stated.

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