REMAPPING: Eastern Obolo communities cry out, kick against Akwa Ibom government
…call on President Buhari, NASS, others to intervene
Over 17 communities of Eastern Obolo Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom state, have kicked against the move by the state house of assembly directing the Surveyor General of the state to redesign the map of the state.
GbaramatuVoice recalls that a motion was sponsored in 2021 by Hon. David Lawrence on the need for the state to redesign the map.
This development has sparked tension in Eastern Obolo as the communities have since gone to court and won the court judgement concerning the matter as it is believed that the mapping is a plan to divide and share Eastern Obolo.
At a press conference during the week by the apex socio-cultural and political organisation of the Eastern Obolo people, called Ilima Obolo, held in Uyo, President and General Secretary, Comrade Uye-awaji Ikpaikor and Dr Amah Williams, respectively lament that despite the fact that the court have ruled concerning the matter in the favour of the Obolo communities, there are still plans by the state government to redesign the map and grant a neigbouring local government areas like Onna, Ikot Abasi and Mkpat Enin prominent status.
According to the statement, if the map is redesign, the above listed local government areas will become beneficiaries of the oil wells and natural resources that are presently found in Eastern Obolo.
The statement frowned that the government is still bent on taking the ancestral homes of the people of Eastern Obolo despite the court judgement in their favour and they regretted that the Akwa Ibom assembly has decided to be a “rubber stamp” arm to the state government.
They task the leadership of the Akwa Ibom State House Assembly to desist forthwith from the “unethical, unprofessional, barbaric, nefarious, divisive, offensive, malicious, contemptuous, illegal, and unconstitutional act, as such is tantamount to the gross violation of their oath of office” and for the “interest of peace, justice and rule of law”, the state assembly should jettisoned passing the bill into law.
The group further called on President Buhari, the National Assembly, the National Boundary Commission, Civil Society Groups and the world at large to come to their aid.
The statement reads: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. We consider it imperative to invite you to this all-important press conference to expose the unprecedented brutal and contemptuous violation of a valid and subsisting judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction by the Akwa Ibom State of House of Assembly and the government at large.
“Recall that on the 16th day of September 2021, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly via a motion sponsored by one Hon. David Lawrence passed a resolution directing the Surveyor General of the State to redesign the map of Akwa Ibom State.
“This gruesome directive was a flagrant violation and an affront to the procedure provided for in section 8(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is worthy of mention that the said directive was politically and maliciously motivated in an attempt to give Onna, Ikot Abasi, and Mkpat Enin Local Government Areas a littoral Status by gerrymandering.
“Gentlemen of the Press, it is instructive to note that the people of Eastern Obolo are fully aware that this desperate moves even in the face of a subsisting court judgment, to alter or adjust the map of Akwa-Ibom State is just for the sole purpose of ceding to Onna, Mkpat Enin and Ikot Abasi the numerous oil wells and natural resources deposit in Eastern Obolo in a bid to making these local government areas beneficiaries of the 3% host communities fund provided for in the Petroleum Industry Act.
“The redesigned map heated the polity in Akwa Ibom State and particularly Eastern Obolo LGA.
“We make bold to say that the redesigned map adversely and significantly affected Eastern Obolo LGA as several villages have been ceded and shared to other Ibibio Local Government Areas such as Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin and Onna.
“That the people of Eastern Obolo fumed by the despotic, undemocratic and illegal tendency to balkanize their ancestral lands, approached the court of law in Suit No.: HU/341/2021 between Joseph Daniel Ekoyork & Ors (suing on behalf of the people of Eastern Obolo) v Akwa Ibom State & Ors., in a bid stop the said dubious and barbaric action of Akwa Ibom State Government using the instrumentality of legislation.
“The Akwa Ibom State High Court, sitting in Uyo and presided over by His Lordship, Honourable Justice Edem E. Akpan, upon hearing arguments canvassed by counsel to all the parties, delivered a wellreasoned judgment in favour of the People of Eastern Obolo restraining Akwa Ibom State Government from doing any act which may tantamount to remapping/adjusting the boundaries of Eastern Obolo. Emphatically, the court held inter alia:
“a) That the 3rd Defendant cannot via a motion/resolution or howsoever adjust, remap or direct the 5th Defendant to adjust the boundaries of the local government within the 1st Defendant without strict compliance with the provisions of Section 8(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
“b) That the boundary adjustment/remapping purportedly carried out by the 5th Defendant through the resolution of the 3rd Defendant, particularly as it affects the Plaintiffs’ Local Government Area, which is without strict compliance with the provision of Section 8(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, is unconstitutional, null and void.
“c) That the Defendant either by themselves or through their privies and agents are hereby restrained from remapping/adjusting the boundaries of the Plaintiffs’ Local Government or gazetting the map purportedly carried out by the 5th Defendant based on the resolution issued by the 3rd Defendant, without strict compliance with the provisions of Section 8(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.”
“That despite the clear order of a court of competent jurisdiction, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has made itself a rubber stamp in the hands of expansionists and land grabbers with the sole intention of legitimizing the illegitimate and nefarious desires of this expansionists within the government.
“The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly that is supposed to be concerned with making laws for the development of the whole of Akwa Ibom State is now fanning the embers of tribalism and sectionalism via the instrumentality of legislation. That the disrespect to court order by those saddled with the responsibility of making law is clear invitation to self-help and anarchy by the State House of Assembly as same is not only illegal, unconstitutional, undemocratic but contemptuous and breach of a valid order of court.
“WE HEREBY CALL on the leadership of the Akwa Ibom State House Assembly to desist forthwith from this unethical, unprofessional, barbaric, nefarious, divisive, offensive, malicious, contemptuous, illegal, and unconstitutional act, as such is tantamount to the gross violation of their oath of office.
“For purpose of emphasis, we urge upon the Akwa Ibom State Assembly to stop forthwith the consideration and passage of the obnoxious Bill in the interest of peace, justice and rule of law.
“THEREFORE, we call on the Presidency, National Assembly, the National Boundary Commission, Civil Society Groups and the World at large to come to the rescue of the People of Eastern Obolo and other Obolo Nationalities in Akwa Ibom State.
“God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria, God bless Akwa Ibom State, and God bless Eastern Obolo. Obolo Itiki!!!