Crisis looms in Akwa Ibom as Ekid, Ibeno communities trade words over oil-rich territory
Ekid and Ibeno communities in Akwa Ibom State are laying claims to oil-rich Akoiyak land, also known as Stubbs Creek Forest, spelling physical confrontation if steps are not taken to douse tension in the area.
Akoiyaks Creek Forest, which extends to the coastal boundaries of the state, is host to Exxonmobil QIT and other crude oil reserves.
It has been an area of dispute between Ekid and Ibeno communities.
Ekid people, in a protest in Eket yesterday, asked the state government to delineate council boundaries in the state in line with historical antecedents and judicial pronouncements.
They also claim the ceding of Akoiyak to Ibeno will rob them of their littoral status and deny them benefits provided for in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to oil-bearing communities.
According to them, recent utterances by the Chairman of Ibeno, Mr. William Mkpah, and the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, pertaining to the land were against the interest of Ekid people, who are the original owners of the land.
President-General of Ekid Peoples Union, Dr. Samuel Udonsak, who addressed the protesters, claimed the land had always been within the Ekid territory.
He said: “The ownership of Akoiyak is not in dispute and, indeed, can’t possibly be as the owner is absolutely vested in Ekid people in perpetuity by inheritance, devolution from our progenitors, forebears, ancestors evident in historical facts and extant judgments of courts of competent jurisdiction at various times.
“Neither the creation of a council nor a new state can usurp the rights of ownership of land or vested interest, proprietary rights, powers and privileges of the original owners.
“Akwa Ibom State has no published map that is reflective of the true historical antecedent and the plethora of judicial pronouncements. Though land is vested in the government, the Land Use Act (LUA) prevents any commandeering or confiscation of people’s land in exercising such powers of expropriation under the Act.”
Similarly, the youth President of Ekid Peoples Union, Daniel Essien, vowed to mobilise youths to resist any plot to take Akoiyak from Ekid people.