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Save our farmland, Akwa Ibom communities appeal to governor

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Distressed communities in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government of Akwa Ibom State that have pleaded with Governor Umo Eno to stop the forced acquisition of their farmland.

In a letter by family heads from three villages in the area, the people lamented what they described as “opaque” process of acquiring their communal land.

The affected villages are: Nung Ukana Ikot Obio Akpan, Nung Ukana Ikot Efre, and Ikot Okubo in Ibesikpo clan, located within Uyo Capital City.

“We want to respectfully request your fatherly intervention over government’s planned acquisition of lands in Nung Ukana and neighbouring villages, which was published in The Pioneer newspaper on 11 March 2024.

“Our request stems from the fact that the process of the acquisition is opaque, wrapped in secrecy and very suspicious. We welcome all developmental efforts by the government, but we have deep reservations about this planned acquisition”, the letter by the community leaders reads.

All the nine family heads from Nung Ukana Ikot Obio Akpan and Nung Ukana Ikot Efre, and all the family heads and councillors from Ikot Okubo have said that they were never informed or consulted about the planned acquisition.

The letter further read: “While the publication by the government indicated the lands so acquired would be used for a residential estate, Ubong Attah, member representing Ibesikpo Asutan in AKHA and our clan head, Etebom Nsidibe Etuk, have insisted that a private university will be built on the land;

“As peace-loving people, we registered our misgivings about the planned acquisition during our meeting with the Commissioner for Lands, Captain Iniobong Ekong on 12 April 2024;

“We know that Your Excellency cannot acquire our lands and hand them over to private entities, thereby throwing our people, whose major occupation is farming and animal husbandry, into the ever-widening poverty trap”.

While supporting the governor’s ARISE Agenda, the community leaders argued that land acquisition must be transparent, accountable, and secure community support.

They, therefore, begged Eno to cancel the planned acquisition and investigate those attempting to use his name to seize and hand over their farmland to private interests.

The community leaders stated: “Instead of using our lands for a private university or other private interests, we request that you use agreed portions to site projects or establish integrated farms that would not only cultivate food to address the country’s lingering food crisis, but also provide jobs for our people in accordance with your ARISE Agenda.

“Given that agriculture is a critical component of the ARISE Agenda, converting our farmland to a residential estate with the current food crisis will be unsettling because many estates previously acquired have not been fully developed.

“Examples of such acquired and undeveloped estates include Idu Housing Estate, Dakkada Housing Estate, Shelter Afrique, Anua Ifa Housing Estate, Ikot Ambon-Ikot Oduot-Eberetu Estate, and Owot Uta-Ikot Ambon-Nnung Ette Estate, among others. The majority of these abandoned estates are already in Ibesikpo.

“To demonstrate our unity of purpose, and due to the curious secrecy surrounding this acquisition process, we, the undersigned family heads and community stakeholders, do not accept, and will not support the present move to acquire our only farmland, please.

“We, however, congratulate Your Excellency on your sterling performance since taking office, and pledge to continue to support your policies and programmes as they unfold in the best interest of Akwa Ibom State”.

Family heads from Nung Ukana Group of villages who signed the letter included Edem Ekott (Nung Esenese) from Nung Ukana Ikot Efre, Eniefiok Udoh (Nung Andua) from Nung Ukana Ikot Efre, Nyong Sampson (Nung Okomo Ikon) from Nung Ukana Ikot Efre and Offiong Akpan (Nung Efre) from Nung Ukana Ikot Efre.

Others were Victor Edim (Nung Ekwere) from Ukana Ikot Obio Akpan, Bassey Akpan (Nung Andua) from Nung Ukana Ikot Obio Akpan, Edim Ekpo (Nung Enyie) from Nung Ukana Ikot Obio Akpan and Edet Umanah (Nung Esenese) from Nung Ukana Ikot Obio Akpan.

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