Some residents of Akwa Ibom have accused Umo Eno, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State of the forceful takeover of some parcels of land belonging to them.
They accused Eno of committing the atrocity while he was a commissioner.
Eno Umo and Emmanuel Udom
Eno was the state Commissioner for Lands and Housing before resigning to join the governorship race.
The parcels of land in question, according to the residents, are located at Anua Offot/Eniong Offot/Use Offot/Ifa Ikot Okpon, Etoi, all in Uyo Local Government Area with Survey Plan No. AK/U 175.
Four of the affected residents, in a petition written by their counsel, Inibehe Effiong, accused the government of illegally allocating their land to political cronies and “senior government officials” as alluded to by Governor Udom Emmanuel while flagging off the development of the said Emily Haven Residential Estate.
They asked the government to confirm to them in writing, within 7 days of receiving their petition, that it will no longer encroach on their land in any manner.
“Our clients are bonafide owners and lawful holders of the right of occupancy of various plots duly allocated to or acquired by them as follows: 1. Mr. Kufre Udo Akpan – Plot 86 with Survey Plan No. AK/U.175 measuring approximately 512.093 square metres and Plot 145 with Survey Plan No. AK/U/175 measuring approximately 947.556 square metres.
“2. Itoro James Essang – Plot 1 measuring approximately 1026.373 square metres. 3. Mr. Henry Ambros Ekpenyong and Barr. (Mrs.) Aniebiet Henry Ambros – Plot No. 13 measuring approximately 882.282 square metres. 4. Mr. Aniebiet Effiong Robert – Plot 143 measuring approximately 1061.560 square metres.
“Our clients’ attention has been drawn to a publication dated 4th June 2021 in Vol. 33 No. 21 of Pioneer Newspaper of Monday, June 7-8, 2021, wherein Pastor Umo Eno, the Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources at the material time, announced via Akwa Ibom State Notice No. 002/2021, a purported revocation of Right of Occupancy existing in the plots numbering from No. 1 – 169, Block ‘G’ at Government Residential Estate (extract) Anua Offot/Eniong Offot/Use Offot/Ifa Ikot Okpon, Etoi, Uyo Local Government Area with Survey Plan No. AK/U 175.
“In the said publication, it is stated that the “revocation” is for “public purposes absolutely and particularly for rationalization.” Our clients are bewildered by the purported revocation which in essence, declares audaciously, the government’s intention to grab plots of land belonging to our clients and other citizens and rationalize (allocate) them to some political cronies and “senior government officials” as alluded to by Governor Udom Emmanuel on 1st March 2022 while flagging off the development of the said Emily Haven Residential Estate.
“We are by this letter notifying the Akwa Ibom State Government, that the publication in the Pioneer Newspaper is legally untenable. Our clients entirely reject the contents of the publication and are not willing to cede any inch of their lawfully acquired plots to anyone for numerous reasons, including the following:
“1. The government has neither paid compensation to our clients nor initiated any credible and verifiable process for payment of compensation. We are impelled to draw your attention to Section 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which makes payment of compensation a condition precedent to compulsory acquisition of land by the government.
“2. The illegal attempt to grab plots of land belonging to our clients in the guise of revocation for “public purposes and rationalization” is a slap on the face of the Nigerian Constitution. By law, the federal and state government have no power to forcefully takeover, revoke, appropriate or acquire land belonging to private citizens for the purpose of rationalization or reallocation to other citizens. Such action is brazenly illegal, reckless, immoral and unconstitutional.
“3. Our clients have not been notified by the government that their plots have been acquired for public purposes. Mere newspaper publication does not qualify for, and cannot supplant the personal notice to which our clients are individually entitled under the law. Sir, as you are aware, there are a number of highbrow residential estates in the State, such as Ewet Housing Estate, Osongama Estate, Shelter Afrique Estate, etc., that have been exclusively appropriated by the elites, politicians and senior government officials.
“The Emily Haven Estate was designed for low- and middle-class-income earners like our clients. It smacks of brazen criminality and greed for some people who feel they are politically connected, or that Akwa Ibom State is their personal fiefdom, to now try to use the instrumentality of the state to grab plots of land belonging to our clients and other less advantaged people of Akwa Ibom State.
“In the light of the foregoing, we respectfully demand that you should confirm to us in writing, within 7 days of receiving this letter, that the government will not encroach in any manner whatsoever, with any of the above-mentioned plots (That is Plots 1, 13, 86, 143 and 145) belonging to our clients. We have attached the necessary documents to this letter for your reference.
“Take notice that we shall institute legal proceedings against the state government if we do not receive your confirmation as demanded. Sir, accept the assurances of our best regards, please.”
Saharareporters, New York