A’Ibom Mapping Renews Rivalry between Eket and Ibeno People
Reactions from notable Eket people have trailed the recent renewed position of some Ibeno elites over the recent mapping of Akwa Ibom State.
Ekid People’s Union, EPU, led by their President General, Dr. Samuel Udonsak described claims and postulation by the Ibeno people particularly the Local government Chairman, Mr. William Mkpah over the mapping, as a misrepresentation, spurious and laughable.
Despite repeated calls from the Governor, Pastor Umo Eno, for the parties to maintain status quo, pending the determination of suits on the mapping of the State, some Ibeno leaders have issued sustained threats and sponsored messages on the media, threatening to spill blood in the process.
In a recent widely circulated release, some Ibeno elders under the aegis of Ibeno Elders Council are quoted as saying they will not concede any inch of Ibeno land to any other Local Government, pledging to defend their territory with the last drop of their blood.
This position was a fallout of a high powered meeting of the Elders council held last weekend.
But countering Ibeno’s position on the matter, Ekid People’s Union, EPU, an apex socio-cultural organisation of Ekid people comprising Eket and Esit Eket Local government has faulted Ibeno’s claim that they are not littoral communities in the state.
The union insists that the Ekid people still remains the rightful owner of Akoiyak, otherwise known as Stubb Creek forest despite the creation of Ibeno local government area from Eket local government.
While Ibeno Elders Council is insisting that they own the entire Stubb Creek and up to the entire area occupied by Ibeno people, the Eket people keep reminding them how they(Ibeno people) were given a parcel of land to stay and do their fishing business, and hence they can’t lay claim to being owners beyond where they were given.
But Ibeno people would not want hear that, and have told anyone who cares to listen how they are rightful owners of the contentious parcel of land.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, representatives of the Ibeno Elders Council, including the former Executive Director Project of NDDC, Engr Ukot Thomas Ukot, Former Executive Director Project NNDC, Arch. Esoetok Etteh, Village Head of Upenakang, Obong Elder Joseph Eshett, and Spokesperson Ibeno Elders Council, Barr. Diamond Akpanika, claims the State had a map, and that they (Ibeno people) would not allow any part of their land to be ceded to other local government areas.
“The first person that left Ibeno was Okpo Eti, who established the first settlement at Efoi and there you’ll find the original people of Eket who came out from Ibeno. We’ve existed along this Atlantic coast for hundreds of years and have never sort to expand northwards neither have we had any conflicts with our neighbours except they are the aggressors”.
“We have little land and our farm is the ocean. We are satisfied with that and we need no more lands. Any attempt to take from us what is rightfully ours will be resisted vehemently”, they noted.
Responding to questions on the Host Community Development Trust Fund and its impact on Ibeno, Barr. Diamond Akpanika, Elders Council Spokesman and Member, Board of Trustees of the Host Community Development Trust Fund, said the Host community trust fund was a creation of the PIA law which takes 3% of the operational expenditure of the oil companies for the development of oil producing communities which have hitherto suffered degradation and neglect.
This newspaper had in it’s previous publication on the matter highlighted the position of Ekid people’s Union on the matter, where Dr. Udonsak speaking on behalf of Ekid people’s Union dismissed the claims by Ibeno people as laughable, urging the public to discountenance the claim by Ibeno people.
According to EPU; “Mr William Mkpah’s postulation that the creation of Ibeno from Eket , confers title on Ibeno and deprives Ekid people of their proprietary rights or interest in Akoiyak (Stubbs creak Forest) is laughable”.
“Neither the creation of a Local government area not a new State can usurp the right of ownership of land or other vested interests, proprietary rights, Powers and privileges of the original owner.
“The Stubs Creek Forest is not in dispute, and indeed cannot be, as the ownership is absolutely vested in the Ekid people in perpetuity, by inheritance/devolution from our progenitors/forebears/ ancestors, evident in historical facts and extant judgements of several courts of competent jurisdiction, at various times”
ESIT EKET CHAIRMAN REACTS…
Also lending his voice, the Chairman of Esit Eket local government area, Prince Iniobong Robson accused his Ibeno counterpart, Mr William Mkpah, of attempting to thrive on falsehood in a bid to create false impression on the recent mapping of Akwa Ibom State.
Mr Robson had told Ibeno Chairman during a public hearing held at the House of Assembly posited that the law of the House of Assembly has not and cannot nullify or reverse the 1916/1918 Supreme Court /Privy council as those judgements subsist in perpetuity.”
“It is in your interest to know that the current legitimate map of Akwa Ibom which you see as victimization has ceded part of the STUBB Creek to IBENO where you are also building a house”.
“ What you call the Ibeno beach is part of the Stubb creek which the action of government has illegally ceded to Ibeno local government area,” the ALGON chairman further explained.
He said further that it is only the Eket people that can willingly cede these territories to the Ibenos, adding that Mr Mkpah should rather tell his people in Ibeno to swallow their pride and rather approach their Eket brothers who rightfully owned the disputed territories.
“Humbly approach Ekid leaders to officially cede the land because just as the current Ekid generation have awoken to their rights.
“William where you currently build your living house along Eket -Ibeno road is part of the Stubb Creek,” Mr Robson added.