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HomeNewsUDOM’S COCONUT PROJECT: COMMUNITY PROTEST UNLAWFUL ACQUISITION OF LAND

UDOM’S COCONUT PROJECT: COMMUNITY PROTEST UNLAWFUL ACQUISITION OF LAND


By Our Reporter

Odoro Ikot Community in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area have protested the unlawful acquisition of their land for the Coconut plantation project by the Udom Emmanuel-led government.

They also accused the government of not paying compensations to the land owners for the destruction of economic crops and trees in the area.

Odoro Ikot Community which comprise of Ikot Ekpnag, Ikot Inyang Okop and Ibioete in Ikpa-Ibom Clan, is an oil producing community, bounded by coastal area and submits into the Atlantic Ocean in the South, and contributes over 70 percent of the land used by the state government for the coconut plantation project.

The people, while protesting at Ikot Ekpang, carried placards with various inscriptions such as; give us our right for peace to reign, you have destroyed our farm lands and means of livelihood without compensation, Odoro Ikot Community are grossly cheated in the area of employment, people are selected for training and none from the host community, Governor Udom is right, please never do wrong and, we voted for you as governor, please rescue us from injustice amongst others.

The people however, accused the State government of breaching the Nigerian Constitution, Land Use Act and other allied laws while illegally acquiring the land without consultation with the Village Heads and community stakeholders.

According to a statement issued by the community, which was read by Mr Jacob B. Udobang, ‘‘We are by this platform reiterating our positions founded on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the extant laws that, in compulsorily acquiring and dispossessing us of our inalienable rights to land ownership for the coconut plantation project, Akwa Ibom State Government did not follow due process, rather they are in blatant breach of the Constitution of Nigeria, Land Use Act and other allied laws.

‘‘No one including the government can deprive a holder or occupier of his land unless the land is acquired compulsorily in accordance with the provision of the Land Use Act; for example; for overriding public interest or for purpose by the local or state government by virtue of section 28 (4) is also a condition precedent to the validity of such acquisition’’.

He debunked speculations that, the land was disputed. ‘‘The land has never been in dispute hence, the state government should follow the provisions of the law in handling the matter’’ noting, it was not proper for the state government to embark on the project without the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, survey of the project site and engage Estate Valuers to value the economic trees

While advising the state government to adopt bottom-top approach to resolve the matter as a responsive government, also called on both government and the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to look into the Odoro Attan, Ikot Ekpang, Ikot Inyang Okop and Odoro Ikot-Ibio Ete 18 Km road project, which work was abandoned by the contractor, Benest Technical Services Limited.

Other requests are; appoint indigenes of the area into managerial board of St. Gabriel Plantation and Coconut Oil Refinery Limited, provide employment slots for the youths and provide primary healthcare and water-boreholes to the community as well as establish Akwa Ibom State Oil/Gas Producing Area Commission (AKSOGPADEC) to address the challenges of oil producing communities in the state.

Also speaking, the Village Head, Chief Akpan Effiong Ekanem lamented that, since the state government embarked on the project and destroyed farm lands as well as cash crops, the people have suffered untold hardship and poverty.

While wondering why the government refused to pay compensation, pleaded the governor to have pity on them, and prevailed on the people to be calm.

Both the Youth leader, Mr Namso Udowo and representative of Odoro Ikot Community, Chief Okoko Akpan Akpan also corroborated the Village Head saying that, Odoro Ikot Group of Villages have suffered protracted abandonment by successive governments with the area lacking social amenities to support modern comfort and appealed to the governor to provide job opportunities to the indigenes and primary Healthcare Center to improve their well-being.

Commissioner for Lands and Town Planning, Arc. Ime Ekpo was not on hand to clarify on the matter.

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