IDSP: We will chase foreign Investors away – Ekid people threaten

Latest News

IDSP: We will chase foreign Investors away – Ekid people threaten

…Issue Quit notice to BUA Group

…Demand recognition as owners of Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve

Priscilla Christopher

The people of Ekid have threatened to chase away present and intending foreign investors for the Ibom Deep Seaport project if the Akwa Ibom State Government fails to acknowledge them as landlords of the Stubb Creek Forest Reserve which hosts the Seaport area.

The aggrieved minority group in Akwa Ibom State, under the umbrella of Itid Afigh Ekid, also known as Eket Patriotic Platform, made their position clear in a communiqué issued at the end of a nationwide press conference held in Eket, on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

Holding claims to the geographical boundaries of the oil-rich region, the group stated in clear terms that “The area of land in question, as well defined in Talbot’s map of 1916 and accepted by a 1916 judgment of the Supreme Court of the Southern Protectorate of Nigeria at Calabar in the case between Ibeno and Ekid, and confirmed under the Forest Reserve Order 35 of 1930, measures about 310 square kilometers beginning from the mouth of Qua Iboe River and runs along the Atlantic Coast for over 60 kilometers, terminating at the boundary with Mbo Local Government Area. The majority of the offshore oil wells of Akwa Ibom State lies off the coast of Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve. There are also both exploited and cocked -up onshore oil wells in the subsoil of the land”, which has the Mobil Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT) tank farm, the proposed Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed Bua Refinery and Petrochemical Industry.

Defining Ekid people as those of Eket and Esit Eket Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State, they described as false and mischievous, the claim by the people of Ibeno Local Government Area to the ancestral land of Ekid people called and known as the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve, but known traditionally as Okoiyak.

In the communiqué which is signed by Rt. Hon. Dick Duke, former Chairman, Eket Local Government Council); Chief Hon. (Barr.) Emmanuel Okon Udoh (JP), former Chairman, Eket Local Government Council); Prof. Desmond Wilson, Community leader; High Chief (Dr.) Isaac Daniel Obiouba, Village Head, Akiki Idung Udo and Chairman, Okoiyak Ekid Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve Organization; Manfred Ekpe, Esq, Legal Adviser/International coordinator, Itid Afigh Ekid Union; Hon. Udo Assam former Councilor, Eket Local Government Council; Prince Ekanem Nda Edohoeket, Community leader; Lady Emem Nkereuwem, Community leader and Comrade Ekemini David, President, Ekid Youth Union, the group recalled that the people of Ibeno are by no means of Akwa Ibom descent but refugees who were merely accommodated by the sheer magnanimity of their ancestors.

“The Ibeno people have no single historical, customary or legal backup to their spurious and fraudulent claims to the said land…nothing can be more callous and treacherous against  their benefactors, who upon the arrival of the Ibeno in the Ibibio shores from Andoni as refugees between 1701 and 1708, having been expelled by the  Nna Biget war in Bonny, our ancestors allowed them to settle, saying to them — “ibuno mo,” (in Ekid dialect meaning “settle here”), hence the name Ibeno. Older colonial records show their names as Ibuno, but in relatively recent years, is now called “Ibeno.” The Ibeno thus paid tribute as token land rent to Ekid people as recorded by a colonial administrator, P. A. Talbot. This payment only stopped when Eket and Ibeno came firmly under British rule as Talbot noted in pages 287–288 of his treatise titled “Life In Southern Nigeria,” written in 1913 but published in 1923”.

Faulting Ibeno’s noises against a purported attempt to cede “their” land to other people, the group furthered that Ibeno “has been unable to state any factual basis that vests the Stubbs Creek Forest on them whether legally, customarily or historically”.

While calling on the state Governor to map the state and do justice not only to Onna, Ikot Abasi and Mkpat Enin as rumoured, but to the Eket and Esit Eket people in line with his official oath, they vowed to resist being treated as second class citizens in the Akwa Ibom project. “We will never accept an inch of our land being used to settle Ibeno as “political solution” according to our information from reliable government sources”, they posited.

The group affirmed that by well-established principles of law, the Ibeno people were disallowed  under the doctrine of res judicata from ever asserting ownership to Ekid land by a subsisting judgment which “shall subsist in perpetuity; the same having been confirmed by more than 6 court judgments of both the federal and state high courts in recent years”.

They however lamented that the Akwa Ibom State Government has refused to recognize Eket and Esit Eket Local Government Areas as owners of the Stubbs Creeks despite these Court judgments. “That instead in 2018, Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration filed a suit in the high court at Eket challenging Eket of its right to compensation as landlords of the Mobil QIT land, part of Stubbs Creek, which the Ekid people rented to Mobil Producing Nigeria for £250,000 Pounds in 1970. Note must be taken that no previous administrations had attacked Ekid’s right to the land except that of our brother and kinsman, Governor Udom Emmanuel to whom we gave 95% of votes in 2015 and 2019” – an action they observed, gave wings to the Ibeno people to unleash mayhem in one of the Stubbs Creek communities.

“The Ibeno people having no legal or historical basis to lay claim to the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve has developed a culture of violence, fraud, voodoo, propaganda and blackmail to keep the land they do not have. That as soon as the judgment in Suit No. HEK /108/2002 was given ordering the Akwa Ibom government to draw the state map to reflect Ine Akpautong in Esit Eket LGA, the Ibeno people invaded Ine Akpautong and burnt down the entire village, sacking it’s inhabitants. Till today government have refused to act despite our choice for peace”.

Key among those who unleashed the mayhem, according to the communiqué, is the present Paramount Ruler of Ibeno, Effiong Achianga who is still said to be involved in land grabbing and other inhuman acts.

“One of these people is Effiong Achianga (“an immediate past” Etebi Esit Eket man then called Nyanga), now paramount ruler of Ibeno LGA under the styled name of Achianga. Yet instead of government arresting and prosecuting Effiong Achianga for murder, arson and other capital offenses, he was, in a manner reminiscent of a golden handshake for a job welldone, awarded certificate as village head of an Ekid village within the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve, awarded certificate as clan head of Ibeno, awarded certificate as paramount ruler. All these took place despite the Akpata Commission Report in it’s findings that the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve by the 1918 judgement, belongs to the Ekid people”.

“This same man today as paramount ruler, continues to coordinate unprovoked attacks, murder, and destruction of properties of their neighbours in land grabbing spree, as witnessed in Ekid village of Iko Nsung in Esit Eket LGA attacked by the Ibeno people. Yet the governor and the commissioner of police says nothing till date. Criminal responsibility has no limitation period. We hereby call on government to prosecute HM Effiong Achianga in accordance with the Commission’s recommendation and the extant laws, to act as a deterrent to any other people who would feel that using violence will vest in them with other people’s land.

“That it is on security report that as soon as a resolution was passed by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on 16 September 2021 to draw an authentic map for the state, the Ibeno people apparently suspecting that the new map will enforce court judgments on the Stubbs Creek, pulled their antics again apparently to stampede government to stop the mapping exercise. On 26 October 2021, Ibeno attacked Iko Nsung village in Esit Eket LGA within the Stubbs Creek Forest, where properties of Ekid people were destroyed. It is strongly believed that this attack was sponsored by the Ibeno men in and outside government, especially as one Barrister Diamond Akpanika, an Ibeno chieftain, came out openly in a manner reminiscent of approval of the attack to threaten that Rt. Hon. Iniobong Robson, the Executive Chairman of Esit Eket LGA could have been attacked and murdered for daring to conduct the police around Iko Nsung after the attack. Till date no arrests have been made while the security forces had advised Ekid people not to retaliate, promising that Justice will be served. The Akwa Ibom State Government has not condemned the animalistic attack ever since”, the communiqué reads.

Having stomached all of these happenings, the Itid Afih Ekid have vowed to exercise their rights of self-defence to protect their lives and properties at Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve, and promised to confront the Ibom Deep Seaport Technical Committee set up by the state government which without a single Eket person in it, has been dealing severally with Ibeno leaders as landlords of their ancestral land while Eket and Esit Eket Local Government Areas are sidelined.

They have also issued a quit notice to the Bua Group and intending investors to stay off the Stubb creeks if they fail to acknowledge them as owners of the region or face their wrath.

“The Bua Group, owners of the proposed Bua Refinery on 22nd August 2021, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ibeno to build a refinery at Ntaikang. That as official records and maps show, Ntaikang is wholly within the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve, and is Ekid land whose indigenes are Ekid people. Despite the Ekid people’s peaceful approach to  the Bua Group since 2017 over this matter, the company has ignored us with impunity. The Bua Group could only have the effrontery to ignore us  because the Akwa Ibom State Government had  ignored our petition dated 10th November 2017 wherein we drew the governor’s attention to our legal status on the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve and the fact that Eket and Esit Eket had been unlawfully and fraudulently excluded from the Environmental and  Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) survey”.

“This is a notice to intending investors all over the world who have interest in establishing on the Akwa Ibom State Atlantic Coast. We hereby declare that any foreign and local investors who do not recognize Eket and Esit Eket Local Government Areas as landlords to any industry proposed for the Stubbs Creek should pack and leave the area or should not come down at all. This is a quit notice to Bua Group, and we shall follow up this quit notice as appropriate. On the interim, the foreign partners of Bua Refinery are hereby given notice to pull out of the partnership should the company refuse to recognize Eket and Esit Eket Local Government Areas as landlords, as we shall not allow the Refinery to be built. The fraudulent MOU entered into with the people of Ibeno is hereby declared null and void and must be canceled forthwith. It is only we, the Eket people of Eket and Esit Eket LGAs that have the exclusive right to enter into MOU and any other contractual/legal relationships with Bua Group or Bua Refinery and Petrochemical Industry not settlers cum customary tenants”.

“That we shall forthwith start moves to contact Bua Foriegn partners and investors anywhere in the world who have interest in the Ibom Deep Seaport to either recognize Eket and Esit Eket as landlords or should better not come down to Stubbs Creek. Again, we say, Enough is Enough! Our docility has been taken for granted for too long, and no more”! 

“We wish to draw the world’s attention to the fact  that Ibeno leaders are hiring hoodlums to call and threaten any Ekid person who stands up to defend Ekit position on the Stubbs Creek matter. Hon. Dick Duke, the former Chairman of Eket LGA, Manfred Ekpe, and Prince Edoho Ekanem, who all signed the press statement highlighting Ekid position in several newspapers have received threats from known and unknown people from Ibeno. This is how far disparate customary tenants can go to intimidate their landlords to remain silent for them to have their way. We warn the Ibeno leaders to caution themselves against such acts or else we shall name them”.