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Displaced Ilaje residents asks Akwa Ibom govt to facilitate their return

By Ayoyinka Jegede, Uyo
07 July 2022   |   4:02 am
Ilaje (Yoruba) residents, displaced during communal conflict between them and their host, Mkpanak in Ibeno Council of Akwa Ibom State, have called on the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, to facilitate their resettlement.

Ilaje (Yoruba) residents, displaced during communal conflict between them and their host, Mkpanak in Ibeno Council of Akwa Ibom State, have called on the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, to facilitate their resettlement.

This is as the host community gives strident conditions for their reintegration into the community.

Recall that communal clash occurred between the two communities on April 19, leading to displacement of over 10,000 Ilaje residents, most of whom still hang around church premises and filling stations in Eket Council.

The terms and conditions issued by the host community for reintegration of Ilaje people contained in a document and domiciled in the Ibeno Council, it was learnt, is to “instill mutual respect between the two communities and prevent further disagreement and rancor.”

The two-page document, which includes boat management and landing fees, fishing expedition and community responsibilities, states among others: “That no visitors, non-indigenes of Ibeno will buy directly from any fishing boat at the beach and anyone liable will pay a fine of N20,000. All catches up to five basins shall be sold at the ratio of 2:3 to Mkpanak and Ilaje women.

A representative of Ilaje community, Mr. James Ajele, told journalists after the meeting, that his people were prepared to abide by conditions stipulated in the documents but complained that some items did not go down well with their collective interests.

He therefore appealed to the state government and Ibeno Council to intervene. He also urged Ibeno community to temper justice with mercy by reviewing some sections.

Spokesperson for Ilaje community, Mr. Golden Ogungbemi, who spoke with journalists, also called on the state governor to intervene and facilitate their return.

He said: “All the wealth and property we acquired over the years were taken away within a twinkle of an eye and since then we have been suffering from the pangs of hunger.

“What we are saying is that the amiable governor of Akwa Ibom State should intervene. We want the governor to put us back in our businesses. What is so important to an Ilaje person is the source of his livelihood, which is the outboard engines.”