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Eket People Charge Akwa Ibom Government To Investigate Illegal Mining Activities Of Chinese Firm

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Gov. Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State

The oil rich communities of Eket in Akwa Ibom state have called on the state government to investigate the ongoing illegal mining activities of RUITAI Mining Limited and its collaborators in government in the state.

A statement issued on October 11 by the Ekid Peoples Union (EPU) and signed by its President General, Dr. Samuel Udonsak and National Secretary, Barr. Bassey Dan Abia, said, the state government should “call them to order and find ways of ameliorating the already despicable situation.

“And the Chinese company illegally engaged in mining on our land should discontinue their trespass forthwith, abate the nuisance and pay for damages occasioned by their trespass. All parties involved in this clandestine land grab incident, should be rightly informed of our incontestable title to the said land and should be so guided. 

As a people, they said “we support the efforts of government in its development strides and encourage and support the establishment and growth of genuine business within our environment; but we will lawfully resist any illegal and unjust exploitation of our environment…To be forewarned is to be forearmed”. ‎

The Ekid people submitted that, “the said Chinese Company, which was hurriedly packaged and registered on the 13th of September, 2022 is allegedly to be surreptitiously managed by the office of the Hon Commissioner of Lands, with the apparent consent and perhaps the approval of the Akwa Ibom State Government. We hope this is not true.

“That the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve (Akoiyak), is the bona fide property of the Ekid people of Eket and Esit Eket LGAs. And our ownership thereof is supported by immutable historical antecedents and time-hallowed judgments of courts of competent jurisdiction”.

They argued that the Stubbs Creek Forest is a Forest Reserve and the purpose of the Reserve Ordinance, inter alia, is to preserve its flora and fauna, which has almost completely been devastated by the fraudulent connivance of government in wanton illegal sales to privately owned companies, without formally de-reserving same.

In this regards, “the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development could not have granted a mining license of any kind to the said Chinese Company without the knowledge, consent and approval of the original landowners expressed in either a lease agreement or any legal instrument conferring title or acceding to the mining”, the said.

Moreover, they said, “we are also very certain that an Environmental Impact Assessment (E.I.A) report, a key requirement in mining, clearly outlining the environmental hazards/ consequences/effect of the mining activities on the community, is a sine qua non for granting of a mining lease by the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals Development. To date, we have neither seen nor heard that an EIA was carried out nor published anywhere in the state, prior to their carrying out this illegal activity”.

The Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve (Akoiyak Ekid), according to them, “is property of the Ekid people without the necessary authorization or consent of the community in breach of our extant laws. This illegal mining, usually carried out in the night and its product transported out of the state in trucks clandestinely, is alleged to be actively encouraged by certain elements in government. As at today, neither the Chinese Company nor their agents in government, has informed the community of this ongoing illegal activity.   This action is in complete breach of extant laws.

“We are not only appalled by this act of affront on our people, we also wish to most vehemently register our utmost displeasure and protest against the manner and style  that some agents of Government especially in the office of the Hon Commissioner for Lands, have most ignominiously aided the Chinese Company, in their illegal mining of Ilmenite on our land, located within the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve (Akoiyak Ekid); property of the Ekid people. This action is clearly against the letter and spirit of our current Mining Act that encourages mining to be carried out in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner”. 

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