….A’Ibom State Govt is the problem of Ekid people, not Ibeno or Mkpah- Esit Eket Council Boss

Against the backdrop of an earlier appeal by the Ibeno Council Boss, High Chief Williams Mkpa to “non littoral” Local Governments not to shift ancient boundaries, the Ekid Peoples Union (EPU) have come out to say the boundary purportedly mentioned by Mkpah was set by Ekid Ancestors as aboriginal owners of the land, noting that the Ibeno settlers cannot determine or define boundaries for their overlords and benefactors.

They stated their position, tuesday in a press conference describing Mkpah’s claims that upon the creation of Ibeno LGA from Eket LGA, the other three LGAs of Eket, Esit Eket and Onna lost their littoral status and can no longer be considered as oil producing communities as unfounded, callous, spurious, vexatious.

The Union stated in a joint statement by their President, Dr. Samuel Udonsek and Secretary General, Barr Dan Abia Jnr that the entire stretch of land known as and called Akoiyak or otherwise called Stubbs Creek Forest where MPNU operations take place is an ancestral land of the Ekid people of Eket and Esit Eket LGAs of Akwa Ibom State. The Stubbs Creek they noted was not in dispute and indeed can’t possibly be as the ownership is absolutely vested in the Ekid people in perpertuity by inheritance, devolution from their progenitors, forebears, ancestors, evident in historical facts and extant judgements of several courts of competent jurisdiction at various times.

They cited several valid and subsisting judicial pronouncments and documents which confirmed in very strong terms Ekid People’s ownership of the Stubbs Creak Forest. Prominent among the suits was suit No. FHC/UY/CS/53/2003, HRH OBONG DAVID EDU & 32 ORS V. NNPC AND 2 ORS being MPNU (Exxon Mobil) and the Government of Akwa Ibom State. The Ekid Nation by their writ of summons claimed, inter alia, compensation due them for the value of the unexhausted improvements on the area of land, within the Stubbs Creek Forest, acquired by the Akwa Ibom State Government for the expansion of MPNU (Exxon Mobil) Facilities.

Furthermore in their submission, the Union noted that neither the creation of a Local Government Area, nor a new State can usurp the right of ownership of land or other vested interests, proprietory rights, powers and privileges of the original owners thereby nullifying Mkpah’s postulation that the creation of Ibeno LGA from Eket confers title on Ibeno and or deprives Ekid people of their proprietory rights or interest in Akoiyak (Stubbs Creek Forest).

Their submission also stated that the PIA is work in progress and agreed with Mkpah that it isn’t a perfect document but only to the extent that the settlor’s 3% OPEX is far too meagre and clearly insufficient to assuage or mitigate the several years of marginalisation and devastation of the Ekid ecosystem from Oil and Gas exploration. According to the Union, the definition of a “Host Community” under the PIA had no ambiguity whatsoever, stating that the sharing matrix proposed or touted by High Chief Mkpah was therefore illegal, illogical and outrightly dubious.

Also speaking, the Chairman Board of Trustees Ekid People’s Union chided High Chief Williams Mkpah for making statements capable of creating discord and engendering unrest in a time where pe!ce and harmony was most needed. “We thought we would be able to live together with Ibeno people, but it appears they are the one’s victimizing us. This is really sad”, he said.

Chairman of Esit-Eket, Engr. Iniobong Robson who also spoke at the media briefing stated that the problem of Ekid People is the Government of Akwa Ibom state not Ibeno or her Chairman as they refused taking steps to curb Ibeno’s excesses and affirm the true ownership of the Stubbs Creek due to their interest in the area which he described as the most valuable piece of land in the Country. “The State government is benefitting from this problem and i blame it largely on our forebears and leaders. Government wants to continually make money from the Stubbs Creak forest at the expense of Ekid people and they have bluntly refused doing the right thing. From this moment, the government of Akwa Ibom State will not collect a dime from any company again and i’m ready to bear the consequences of my statement, he stated.

The Esit Eket Council Boss noted that the land given to BUA by Ibeno local government Chairman, backed by the state government belongs to the Ekid People, adding that such company will never have access to the land henceforth unless they initiate rents negotiation with the rightful owners, the Ekid People.

The Chairman of Eket local council, Mr. Akan Tommey on his part corroborated the submission of his Esit-Eket counterpart, noting that the fight and struggle to reclaim what belongs to Ekid people was continuous in expectation that the needful will be done.

In attendance at the media parley were, the Leader of Eket Senatorial district, and former Minister of Lands and Housing, Rt. Hon. Chief Nduese Essien, Chairmen of Eket and Esit-Eket Local Government areas respectively, NBA Chairman, Eket branch, Aniefiok Ekwere (Esq), Chief Assam Usoro, Elder Eddy Etangkanga, former Secretary of Eket People’s Union, Rev. Enobong Akpan, Pastor Grace Idiyang, Crown Prince EdohoEkit, Chief Ekaette Etukudo, Elder Emman Edoho, Becky Asindi, Royal fathers and Youths.

Wisdom Bassey

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