The Esit Eket Local Government Area (LGA) have charged the Akwa Ibom state government to release the gazetted map of the state to finally end the 108 year old tussle between Esit Eket and Ibeno councils of the state.
Speaking behalf of the Esit Eket people, the council boss, Mr. Iniobong Nnamso Robson in a briefing with some newsmen in Eket on Tuesday, organized by the Ekid People’s Union (EPU) at Eket, alleged that the government of Akwa Ibom state conspires with the people of Ibeno over the true and legitimate owner of Akoiyak (stubb creek forest) which apart of it has the operational headquarters (Q. I. T) of Exxon Mobil (MPNU).
He said “the state government is responsible for this problem, even as the government has the political will to end this issue of ownership of the said land, but have failed to do the needful. Rather the government have chosen to conspire with the people of Ibeno to feast from the said property against judgment of several courts of competent jurisdiction which date back to 1916which affirmed the people of Eket as true and bonfire owners of the stubb creek forest fondly called Akoiyak in local parlance.
“The state government is benefiting now by its refusal to release the official gazetted map of the state to determine where the said land rightly belongs, but is only interested in leasing plot of land in the forest to private investors for payment of land rents or fees”.
Robson regreted that, “it is not within the powers of local government councils to demarcate boundaries, the refusal of the state government to act on this issue portrays them (state government) as conspiring or taking side with Ibeno when the government fully knows Ibeno has no locus standing to sole challenge the state. This explains why they now resort to make unguarded utterances as recently done by Mr. Willams Mkpa, the Ibeno council boss.
“The lease of about 753 hectares of land to a private investor, Bua Group for a petro chemical plant/refinery within Akoiyak without the knowledge of the people of Eket and Esit eket LGAs who are beneficial owners speaks volumes of the conspiracy of the state government on this vexed issue. He advises Bua Group to meet and negotiate with the people of Eket and Esit eket councils for the lease, if they must operate there”.
In a related development, the National President of the union, Dr. Samuel Udonsak described the spurious claims and vexatious utterances of the Ibeno council boss as “unfounded, a misrepresentation and postulation”.
Udonsak described the entire stretch of land called Akoiyak or Stubb creek forest as the ancestral land of the Ekid people of Eket and Esit Eket LGAs of Akwa Ibom State, covering an area extending from the hinterlands, to the costal boundaries of Akwa Ibom State, beyond the shallow water and deep water area of operation of MPNU and other licensees/lessees, along the Gulf of Guinea of Nigerian shoreline.
He said that “the entire portion of land directly contiguous to and abutting the Atlantic Ocean extending from the mouth of Qua Iboe River, eastward along the seashore of child point, also constitute the Stubbs Creek forest (Akoiyak). Nearly 100% of MPNU (Exon Mobil) operations and critical Infrastructures, are located within the area herein before described, known as and called Stubbs Creek forest or Akoiyak
“The Stubbs Creeks forest (Akoiyak), is not in dispute and indeed can’t possibly be as the ownership is absolutely vested in the Ekid people in perpetuity, by inheritance /devolution from the progenitors /forbears /ancestors, evidence in historical facts and extant judgments of several court of competent jurisdiction, at various times”.
He further stated that “in 1914 two communities of Mkpanak and Ukpenekang of Ibeno, were in court, surreptitiously joisting amongst themselves, for the ownership of the Ancestral land of Akoiyak. The claims of the people failed and their suits was accordingly dismissed. Judgment was accordingly entered in our favour with cost and a declaration of title in favour of the Ekid People, in 1916 by the supreme court of Nigeria and this judgment is final” .