May 23, 2024

INC praises Ijaw settlements in A’Ibom for resisting remapping of boundaries

INC praises Ijaw settlements in A’Ibom for resisting remapping of boundaries

Ijaw National Congress (INC) on Wednesday lauded Ijaw communities in Akwa Ibom for resisting ongoing efforts to redraw the map of Akwa Ibom.

The INC criticised remapping aimed at realigning Ijaw settlements across seven of 31 local governments in the state.

INC, the pan Ijaw socio-cultural and pressure group in reaction to a meeting by Gov Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom with Ijaw community leaders applauded the leaders for rejecting the remapping project.

Prof Benjamin Okaba, President of INC who spoke in an interview in Yenagoa, said Ijaws across the Niger Delta region and in the diaspora were in solidarity with Ijaws in Akwa Ibom in defence of their ancestral land.

“The INC and Ijaws at home and in the diaspora are proud of the Ijaw leaders of Obolo people in Akwa Ibom for speaking truth to power and rejecting the boundary adjustment in a meeting with Akwa Ibom governor.

“Ijaws commend their courage and resilience against the unconstitutional illegality being mooted in Akwa Ibom to further marginalise and balkanise Ijaws in Akwa Ibom.

“The Ijaws have taken legal steps to stop the remapping and readjustment of boundaries which are responsibilities of the federal government as clearly and unambiguously spelt out in the constitution which placed same in the exclusive legislative list,” Okaba said.

Okaba said that it was regrettable that the government of Akwa Ibom defied the decision of a State High Court that ruled in favour of Ijaw settlements along the Akwa Ibom coastline on the planned boundary readjustments.

He noted that some interest groups who are not comfortable with the natural endowments of oil and gas in Ijaw settlements in Akwa Ibom want to use government machinery to distort Ijaw settlements and create boundary crises.

According to Okaba, it is saddening that while the INC is in the struggle to reverse the marginalisation of the Niger Delta region in the Nigerian context, the people of the region were busy marginalising their own kit and kin.

The Ijaw leader assured Ijaw communities at Eastern Obollo, Ibeno and Oron settlements of the support of all Ijaws in the struggle to preserve the ancestral homelands of Ijaw, who are minorities in Akwa Ibom.

“Our Obollo people have spoken out against the readjustment of boundaries of our Ijaw communities, the INC would take every necessary step to support and protect the economic interest of Ijaws in Akwa Ibom in their quest to benefit from the three per cent host community fund in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

He urged the state government to comply with a subsisting court judgement in favour of the Ijaw communities and jettison the idea in the interest of peace.

Mr Ini Ememobong, Commissioner for Information in Akwa Ibom told NAN that he was not aware of the court judgement on the re-mapping.

“We are aware that the matter in question is surrounded by a lot of sentiment, but when sentiments are put aside, the issues become a lot simpler.

“The matter was passed through the state assembly where representatives of the communities passed a bill to back the mapping and anyone who feels aggrieved can approach the court to seek redress.

“The state has powers to do what it is doing, and please take note that we are talking about internal boundaries within that state, we are not tampering with interstate boundaries here,” Emem Iniobong said.

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