May 23, 2024

Akwa Ibom community rejects move by Emmanuel to cede land

0
A’Ibom community rejects move by Emmanuel to cede land

*Make new village heads endorse remapping

Etim Ekpimah

Unyenge community in the Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has asked Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State to stay off its ancestral land, adding that they will resist any attempt by the governor to cede its land to another community.

The community which is a part of Obolo nation, described the Map Establishment Bill, which was passed by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on April 13, 2023, as repugnant and as an attempt to extend some landlocked councils.

A statement, which was variously signed by the Unyenge Community Chairman, Chief Itama B. Ekpe; Secretary, Mr Kany Nkwobia, and the Public Relations Officer, Mr Bassey Ekpimah, on Tuesday in Unyenge, condemned the government’s action.

According to the community, the governor, by trying to cede Unyenge to a landlocked community, is silently calling for war between Unyenge and its neighbouring communities.

The statement read: “There is a great cataclysm in Unyenge community, Mbo and the entire Obolo local government areas (LGAs) in Akwa Ibom State consequent upon the repugnant Map Establishment Bill being passed by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on April 13, 2023, seeking to extend some landlocked LGAs (Esit Eket, Eket, Onna, Mkpat Enin, and Ikot Abasi) through the Obolo lands (Mbo, Ibeno, and Eastern Obolo) being the littoral region of the state, to the seashore.

“The people of Obolo Nation, of which Unyenge is an integral component, denounce unreservedly this iniquitous, unprincipled, and non-licet legislative manoeuvre of the Akwa Ibom State Government to arrogate the ancestral land of Obolo to any community or local government area whatsoever under the guise of remapping.”

The Chairman of the Unyenge Community, Chief Itama B. Ekpe, stated that right from the creation of Akwa Ibom State on September 23rd, 1987, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Boundary Commission, had carved out and precisely delineated both the external territorial borders and the internal geographical boundaries among all the local government areas that constitute the state.

He said the boundaries are conspicuously depicted on the map of the state on the state’s website (www.akwaibomstate.gov.ng) and printed on all official documents, gubbins, and other formal instruments of the state. Surprisingly, it is quite hilarious and irrational to hear the Akwa Ibom State Governor lay claim to the non-existence of an official gazetted map of the state.

“Interestingly, there is no gainsaying the fact that Akwa Ibom State is one of the subsets of Nigeria that is regulated by the extant laws as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Clearly, Section 8(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is crystal clear and very blunt on this issue, as it clearly stipulates the procedure for boundary adjustment, thus:

“A bill for a Law of House of Assembly for the purpose of boundary adjustment of any existing local government area shall only be passed if-

(a) a request for the boundary adjustment is supported by a two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding and the area affected by the boundary adjustment) in each of the following, namely – (i) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and (ii) the local government council in respect of the area is received by the House of Assembly, and (b) a proposal for the boundary adjustment is approved by a simple majority of members of the House of Assembly in respect of the area concerned.

“Unfortunately, the government of Akwa Ibom State, through the instrumentality of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, has blatantly flouted this section of the constitution and appropriated upon himself unjustified and superfluous constitutional power,” he said.

Read more: INC vows to resist remapping of A’Ibom State

The Secretary of the Unyenge Community, Mr Kany Nkwobia, said the Akwa Ibom State governor has gone as far as expropriating power to himself and thereby breaching the rules of law, even as he shows no consideration to a court order given by a court of competent jurisdiction.

He said: “It may interest you to know that when the first attempt to remap or redraw the map of Akwa Ibom State with particular reference to the Obolo lands (Mbo, Eastern Obolo, and Ibeno) surfaced through a motion moved by Hon. David Lawrence, a member representing Eket in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, the Obolo people instituted a lawsuit straight away against the Akwa Ibom State Government, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and the Surveyor General of the state.

A’Ibom community rejects move by Emmanuel to cede land
*Old and authentic map of Akwa Ibom State

“As the defendants in Suit No. HU/341/2021, Akwa Ibom State Government, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and Akwa Ibom State Surveyor General, amply and suitably defended themselves but regrettably lost out in the verdict delivered by His Lordship, Hon. Justice Edet Akpan at the Akwa Ibom State High Court, Uyo, on January 27, 2022. The defendants were restrained from mapping, remapping, or redrawing the map of the local government areas of the state, with an emphasis on the Obolo land.

“However, the government of Akwa Ibom State has exerted an improper influence on the rubber-stamp State House of Assembly and exercised ultra vires with sheer non-compliance of constitutional provisions and went ahead to pass the dreadful Map Establishment Bill even without recourse to constitutional procedures to annex Obolo lands to other LGAs to pave way for them, especially his LGA (Onna), to have express access to the Atlantic Ocean so as to get categorized as Host Communities of offshore petroleum operations and partake in the prerogatives and privileges thereto as set forth in the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021.”

The community’s Public Relations Officer, Bassey Ekpima, stated that based on the foregoing, the Unyenge community is strongly admonishing any public officers to refrain from engaging in any act of injustice, abuse of power, or Neronian persecution to eschew fuelling antagonism, communal upheaval, social and economic instability.

He stated that the evil plot the governor has introduced is to make the new village heads endorse his remapping of the state.

“As much as we, the Obolo, are peace-loving people, we will not hesitate to invoke all legal tools and civil procedures to fight for the maintenance of our ancestral territory should the government proceed with this unreasonable and inconsiderate bill.

“By and by, let me end with these words of wisdom, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15) and let’s not forget the counsel of an American writer, Debra Doyle, “It doesn’t pay to ignore warnings. Even when they don’t make sense,” Nkwobia said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *