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Compensation for Cross River Deep Seaport divides host communities

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Part payment of compensation by the Cross River State government for the Deep Seaport project has split some host communities of Bakassi Council Area of the state.

The Guardian learnt that the state government paid some compensation through the paramount ruler of Bakassi, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet, who shared the money to the benefiting communities.

Beneficiaries of the compensation include Usung Inwang, which received N4m through its Caretaker Chairman, Chief Ankot Antigha, but some members of the community consider the amount too small, a development that is causing disaffection for which some persons had petitioned Governor Benedict Ayade.

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Besides, the people of Idua Inwang in their petition dated November 23, 2020 and endorsed by their counsel, Ozinko Ozinko with the backing of the new Caretaker Committee headed by Chief Ene Adim Okon, said compensation to the communities should have been paid to individual beneficiaries and not through intermediaries.

Due to old age of the then Village Head, Chief Effiong Ene Iman, representatives of Idua Inwang community and government officials met on June 8, 2012 and resolved to constitute a 10-man Caretaker Committee headed by Antigha to assist Iman restore peace, stability and progress in the community.

But following alleged poor handling of the Deep Seaport compensation, the village borehole, palm fruits, lands and others, members of the Idua Inwang Community met and resolved to remove Antigha as Caretaker Chairman.

They notified Governor Ayade, security agencies and others warning, the people to stop dealing with Antigha but deal with the new Caretaker Committee of Idua Inwang Esighi Village pending the appointment of a new Village Head by the Idua Inwang Esighi Village Council.

Consequently, the Idua Inwang Esighi Village council passed a vote of no confidence on Antigha on September 30, 2020 and constituted a new Caretaker Committee headed by Chief Ene Adim Okon on October 22, 2020.

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Also, following the poor handling of the compensation and other issues, the Idua Inwang Community has been experiencing militancy, non-implementation of the green tree treaty, insurgency and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and sharing of compensation at Itam Ikot Antigha, which the people of Idua Inwang considered an insult to the community.

They argued that compensation should be paid directly to those affected by the project in terms of their property, economic trees, land, ponds and others assets and not those who are not directly affected by the project.

Members of the Idua Inwang community charged the state government to desist from further signing any documents with Antigha on their behalf and that dealing with anyone other than those directly affected by the project was unacceptable.

Antigha could not be reached to comment on the matter, but one of his associates who pleaded anonymity said Antigha remained the Caretaker Committee Chairman, insisting that compensation for the Deep Seaport project was shared accordingly to beneficiaries in all the communities.”

Special Adviser to Governor Ayade on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, also declined comments, but sources close to government said a quarter of the compensation was paid to Edet and that the balance would be paid as the state’s finances improve.

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