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Land grab pits Ayade against lawmakers, communities

Ben Ayade

Cross State Governor Ben Ayade is on warpath with the House of Assembly and some communities in the state over alleged land grab.

The state government recently set up a committee to acquire 9,000 hectares of land across the three senatorial districts of the state for agriculture, which some persons in the state suspected maybe plan to embrace the federal government’s suspended Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) programme.

But yesterday, the assembly unanimously frowned on the move and ordered the immediate suspension of the taskforce set up by the governor to ensure strict compliance.

In a motion of urgent public importance moved by Mr. Itam Abang (Boki I constituency), the house asked the governor to properly brief it and the general public on the purpose of acquiring the land, the volume of land needed and the provisions (if any) in place to efficiently utilise the land, if acquired.

While asserting that the ninth assembly was not against the government obtaining land for whatever purposes, the lawmakers said they were unhappy that the governor could set up a committee to take lands across the state without informing them.

They expressed surprise that the governor wrote to the house when he wanted to take N5 billion loan, but did not see any need to notify them while planning to acquire people’s lands.

Mr. Efa Esua (PDP, Calabar Municipal) stated that whereas all lands in the state belong to the state government, the governor must employ adequate mechanisms in acquiring lands that were already in people’s possession.

Francis Asuquo (PDP, Odukpani) pointed out that from time immemorial, lands had been the reason for communal clashes in the state, hence the government must be careful on grabbing lands to avoid crises.

The speaker, Eteng Williams, directed that the land acquisition committee be invited to appear before the house for further clarification on the matter.

Widows in Obudu council had cried out over government’s acquisition of over nine square kilometres of their ancestral land for international and cargo airport project.

While insisting that it had paid 70 percent compensation to owners of the airport lands, the government has, however, kept mute on the proposal to acquire the 9,000 hectares of land across the state.

Source: Guardian Newspaper

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