Gov Bassey Otu of Cross River
Invasion and alleged plans to sale Effi community forest to some Chinese has pitched the Council of Chiefs of the community and their counsel against the people.
The Effi Peoples’ Action Forum (EPAF) and the Rainforest Resources and Development Centre (RRDC) had in petition issued by the Executive Director of RRDC, Mr. Odey Oyama on their behalf alleged that, “Barr Ichire Imo Okim, acting in concert with the Council of Chiefs of Effi Community, has devised a new and dangerous plot to negotiate Effi Community lands and properly with Chinese foreign nationals, without disclosing the details of the transactions (in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding – MOU) to the Elders, sons and daughters of Effi Community”.
Oyama who is a community leader in Effi said “Okim, acting in concert with the Council of Chiefs of Effi Community, has the temerity to demand that Community Leaders of Effi Community should endorse the obscure contract document he has developed to bond Effi Community with uncertified foreign Chinese Nationals, without being given the opportunity to peruse and own copies of the documents they are being asked to sign, with supreme urgency.
They said, “it is now time for us to rise up now and reject the devices, antics, and evil plots of Barr Ichire Imo Okim and the Council of Chiefs of Effi Community over our common heritage. Otherwise, the people of Effi Community will soon end up as a people alienated from their ancestral heritage.
“We are now facing the most brazen assaults on our ancestral heritage from within. The persons to whom we entrusted the safeguarding and custody of our ancestral heritage are exactly the ones that, driven by insatiable greed, are forming evil conspiracies and trading out our cherished ancestral heritage with extreme recklessness. The time has come, when silence is no longer golden for the people of Effi Community”.
Oyama said, “I am not surprised that Barr Ichire Imo Okim appears to be greatly offended by my opposition to his crafty surreptitious deals of fostering a business relationship between the Chinese foreign nationals and the Traditional Rulers’of Effi Community; without any reference whatsoever to the indigenous owners of Effi Community.
“Because of the hope of monetary gains that Barr Ichire Imo Okim is expecting to rip off from this business, Barr Ichire Imo Okim would not care whether or not his Chinese business associates are targeting Effi Community for the setting up a China Town. After all he hopes that the money he would make from the Chinese deal would be sufficient to make him kick start his life somewhere else”.
He stated that by reason of all the above, Barr Ichire Imo Okim is willing to hide the Chinese and their business partners, the chiefs (of Effi Community) away from the probing eyes of the Nigerian Immigration Service, challenging him and the Effi Traditional Rulers “to show publicly the immigration documents of the Chinese Nationals who came to Effi Community.
“That the Effi Traditional Rulers should declare to members of Effi Community, the Immigration Service, the Police and other relevant security agencies, the particulars of the Chinese foreign nationals who visited them and whom they conducted around the forest estate of Effi Community”.
Meanwhile the Human rights and constitutional lawyer, Barr. Okim, has called on Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola, to stop NIS personnel operating in Cross River State from harassing or intimidating traditional rulers of Effi community in Ikom LGA of the state.
Okim stated that the numerous invitations extended to traditional rulers in Effi Community by the Cross River State Command of Immigration Service were uncalled for, adding that the invitations amounts to infringement on his clients’ Fundamental human rights even when they committed no offence.
A statement emanated from Ichire Imo- Okim and Co Chambers dated August 24, titled, Re: “National Security Risk Urgent Action Required, Suspicious Entry into Effi Community Forest and the Cross River South Forest Reserve without Diplomatic and Security Clearance”, expressed dismay over the said intimidation of his clients even when they did nothing wrong.
He opined, “for Christ sake, why are they tossing these monarchs like football around ? These are my clients. It would be unfair if I sit down fold my arms and watch them toss them around like that!
“Chinese nationals only visited our community and said that they want something from our community, whether we agree or not, shouldn’t have been an issue, unfortunately the visit has become an issue.
“In the first instance,my clients Effi traditional rulers, had not even entered into any agreement with the Chinese nationals, unfortunately it became an issue”.
He said, “let me state here clearly that it’s because of an inciting and fault finding letter written by Prince Odey Oyama to the Immigration authority that had raised so much dust”.
Okim accused Oyama of plotting to distabilize the peace and unity enjoyed among community members home and abroad, claiming that Effi community have right to entertain visitation.
“Nigerian Immigration Service and other relevant Government agencies have done the needful before the foreign nationals gained entry and accessed our clients”.
Accordingly, he urged Oyama “to desist forth with from undermining traditional Institution of Effi Community as the community would not hesitate to seek redress at the appropriate quarters if need be” stating that the traditional rulers had done no wrong for receiving two Chinese nationals that visit the community not for evil but for the good of the community