Ikot Ekpene community accuses Akpabio of land seizure   | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ikot Ekpene community accuses Akpabio of land seizure  

Posted: Apr 13, 2015 at 1:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Idongesit Ashameri  / Correspondent, Uyo


The host community of the Sheraton Hotel now under construction in the Ikot Ekpene Local Government area of Akwa Ibom State has petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan over an alleged forceful seizure of land without compensation by Governor Godswill Akpabio.

Appealing to the President to call Akpabio to order, the Ikot Obong Edong community, through its solicitors –, Kanu Agabi (SAN) & Associate – said their client represented by the village head, Chief Elijah Ituen, village chairman, Mr. Nseabasi Inyang, and principal member, Chief Nathaniel Ekure, were, by inheritance, the statutory owners and occupiers of the land that housed the relocated Federal Prisons.

Explaining the position of the law to Daily Independent in Uyo, a representative of the solicitors, Mr. Kingsley Kalu, said by deeds of lease made variously in 1928, 1940, and 1948, among others, between their clients and the Colonial Governments, the different lands were released for public interest but with a clause.

The clause, according to him, was to the effect that “government would lease the land in perpetual i.e. for as long as it requires it, but if and when it no longer requires it, it would deliver up possession of the land to the native landlords.

“Government may build houses on the land or use it for any other purpose, but if it sub-lets any of the land for non-governmental purposes, it would be willing that the rent agreed upon should be paid to the native landlords”, adding that “the document was in the Federal Ministry of Education National Archives, file 1414 Vol. No.1, Pages 2 to 98”.

Kalu noted that the various governments in the area, since after the civil war, had breached and reneged on the said agreements, as the last rent was paid in 1952 by the Colonial Government, and their clients had petitioned President Jonathan because the Federal Prisons that was situated on their land had for some years been relocated to a better site, adding that they had expected their land to be returned to them by the Federal Government in the spirit of the agreement.

“The grouse of this petition to Your Excellency is that the Federal Prisons in Ikot Ekpene relocated few years back to a more convenient site and as it were, we had expected that the Federal Government would return our clients’ land to them in the spirit of the stated agreements.

“We were shocked to notice heavy duty machines bulldozing the old Federal Prisons and a four-star hotel that has no name (i.e. contractor, or name of institution awarding the contract, no sign board) spring up on the said site within few months later,” he explained.

He expressed disappointment that their clients only learnt about the ownership of the hotel, situated on their land on March 12, where the facilitators informed them that the state Governor had vowed to commission the hotel before the expiration of his tenure as Governor, adding that a staff in the state employ revealed that there was no impact assessment on the land, as it would have taken two years to be done and if done, the hotel may not have seen the light of day.

“On Thursday, March 12, 2015 or thereabout, our clients and other villages, like Abiakpo, Nkap, etc. were invited to a summit organised by the Federal Ministry of Environment, in conjunction with the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Environment. The topic had to do with the preview on Environmental Impact Assessment in respect of the said four-star hotel project in Ikot Ekpene.

“We were shocked to hear from the facilitators that the hotel was Akwa Ibom State Government-owned and that His Excellency, Chief Godswill Akpabio, had vowed to commission the project on 27th May, 2015 two days before the expiration of his tenure in office,” he added.

Efforts to get the state Commissioner for Lands, Obong Eno Akpan, to comment on the allegation proved abortive. He was not met in his office, and did not pick calls.