The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Arc Ime Ekpo, has stated that the demolished properties at Nung Oku, Ibesikpo in the wake of Christmas was long overdue.
Mr Ekpo who was reacting to comments and insinuations from members of the public, told this reporter that the said portion of land was acquired by the state government from the inception of the present administration, for housing purposes and allocated to Army and Police Officers of Akwa Ibom State origin.
Speaking during a telephone interview on Wednesday, December 25, the Lands Commissioner reiterated that the said portion of land was duly acquired, surveyed, and paid compensation by the state government and given a right of occupancy.
“The land had been surveyed and compensation had been paid. It was even published. The village is aware of this, though the Village Head is now late.” Said the Commissioner.
The Commissioner recalled that Governor Udom Emmanuel had on the night of Generals, during the 30th Anniversary of Akwa Ibom State in October 2017, promised to give Army and Police Officers of the State origin a land at Shelter Afrique and another in Nung Oku for housing purposes. However, after the acquisition was finalized with the Community, “we discovered that it has been encroached”, the Commissioner narrated.
“Upon investigation, the villagers said they were not the ones who encroached on it, adding that since the government bought the land, they never had anything to do with it again”. He explained.
“We took the land, surveyed it and shared among the soldiers, some of whom were then Brigadier Generals, now Major Generals as well as the Commissioners of Police, but each time the allottees, go there, the report is that the host youths do not allow the Surveyors to carry out their duties”. The Commissioner expressed. The allottees who became tired of the incessant resistance they met at the hands of the ‘host youths’ became bittered and subsequently concluded that the state government had deceived them by giving them lands which have been earmarked for others.
“Some of them have personally attacked me on grounds that I don’t want to give them the Land which the governor had promised them”, Ekpo said, adding that his inbox was filled with such messages.
The encroachers, Ekpo said, were consequently given a notice to leave the land and also invited to the office of the Commissioner for Lands and Housing, but they bluntly refused coming.
“We don’t give demolition notice on a structure that is illegal. Because we had wanted to settle this amicably, we gave them three months to vacate the place. We asked them to come to the Ministry with the proposal of what they want from us should incase they had lavished everything the State Government had paid to them as compensation.” Ekpo said, adding that the demolition was carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday and will continue on Thursday, 26.
The Commissioner also disclosed that a certain Leo has been identified as the one who spearheaded the sales of the land. “Some persons have mentioned one Leo as the person who in charge of selling that land to people. He even sold it to some Police officers”, Ekpo said.
When asked on why the government has not fished out the Leo, the Commissioner replied: “how can we go after him, we didn’t send him. What we know is that we’ve taken possession of our land”.
“Whoever is affected should go back to Leo to get back his money”.