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Community stops $1b Calabar Virgin City project over land dispute

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Cross River State governor, Senator Ben Ayade

A community in Cross River State has threatened to stop work on the proposed $1 billion Calabar Virgin City project.

This followed its dispute with the state government over the acquisition of the land meant for the venture.

The Clan Head of the community, Ntoe Ededem Okon Ayito, disclosed this yesterday.

According to him, the government did not consult them before commencement of work on the site.

To deter it from continuing the work, he declared that the community has placed a traditional embargo, called ‘Ekpe’ on the land.

The community, Etap Ayip Kasuk Qua Clan II in Calabar municipality, urged government to stay away from the land because of the grave consequences involved.

The traditional injunction, he said, is a spiritual restriction that carries deadly consequences when contravened.

Ayito said the government acquired their land without paying them compensations.

He explained that the community decided to challenge the issue because government, by its action, has rendered the people hungry, since they no longer have land for farming.

“How can the people live with their families and train their children? We are not happy as a community, because the government simply invaded the land and destroyed our source of livelihood,” he said.

He appealed to the government to follow due process since the land belongs to the people.

He explained further: “Last year December, the government mounted signposts on the land for the proposed virgin city without consulting the community.

We urged it to do the needful before commencing the groundbreaking to avoid embarrassment to the state, which it did on the December 29, 2017.

But, despite the community’s request that they disclosed how many hectares of land that they are acquiring and the compensations involved, it has refused to act since then.

When contacted, the Commissioner for New Cities Development, Mr. George Ikpungu said, he was “not aware of such development,” but referred our correspondent to the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, “who oversees the project.”

Effort to reach the commissioner, John Inyang, to get his response failed, as he did not pick the calls made to his telephone line.


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