Coconut plantation landowners are suing the government of Akwa Ibom for a sum of N14 billion

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Victims of the 2016 land acquisition in Akwa Ibom State’s Mkpat Enin Local Government Area have filed a compensation claim against St. Gabriel Coconut Plantation and Oil Refinery, demanding N14 billion.

The thirteen village chiefs from the Ikpa Ibom Clan made the appeal during a news conference at Ikot Ekong on Thursday.

“Why the Government of Akwa Ibom State Under His Excellency, Pastor Umo Eno, Should Follow Due Process and Rule of Law in Compliance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended and Land Use Act, by Paying Adequate Compensation to Owners and Holders of Deemed Customary Right of Occupancy of St. Gabriel Coconut Plantation Thousand of Hectares of Communal, Family and Private Parcels of Land Compulsorily Acquired by Akwa Ibom State Government since 2016”, the statement read.

Heads of the host communities, HH Eteidung Raymond Udia and Chief Cletus Inyang, read a statement signed by the Land Owners Forum’s chairman and secretary.

The host communities brought up the fact that N3.5 billion was spent on coconut seedlings imported from Côte d’Ivoire in 2017 and that former Governor Udom Emmanuel authorized the payment of N26 billion in 2018 to compensate for lands that were forcibly taken as part of the industrialization policy; landowners from St. Gabriel Coconut Plantation and Refinery Limited, which was listed among the legitimate beneficiaries, have not received any compensation as of yet.

They said that the state government ignored the landowners’ cries for justice when it included an additional N390 million in the 2024 budget to fund infrastructure maintenance at the coconut plantation and oil refinery, destroying their only source of income and farmland.

Chief Inyang stated that the community’s certified true copies of the incorporation documents proved that the St. Gabriel Coconut Plantation and Oil Refinery, which was acquired, is a private limited liability company with a share capital of 200 million. The communities did not receive any compensation or share allocation from this company.

“We have a new pastor in charge of justice in Akwa Ibom State, and it is evident that Justice Iniabasi T. Udobong of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, Mkpat Enin Judicial Division, ruled in our favor against St. Gabriel Coconut Plantation and Oil Refinery Ltd., but he has chosen not to enforce the ruling, so we can reach a peaceful and out-of-court settlement,” the statement continued.

The community further requested that Dr. Akon Eyakenyi, the Deputy Governor, and Pastor Patience Umo Eno, the Governor’s wife, step in and help resolve the issue.

They further pleaded with Governor Umo Eno to show mercy to the thirteen villages in Mkpat Enin by compensating them in accordance with the Evaluation Reports of Messrs Nnsewo Abah, which were recognized by the Ministry of Lands as a tool to determine a fair, adequate, and equitable amount to be given to the recipients.

The village heads in attendance at the press conference were, His Highness (WO) Raymond Udia Rtd, Ikot Ekong, Obong Sylvester Akpan Inyang, Ikot Oyoro, Obong Okon Marcus Akpakpan, Ikot Inyang Okop, Obong Akpan Jackson, Ibiote, Obong Michael Sunday Akpan, Ikot Aba, Obong Ufot Essien Akpan, Ikot Eti, Obong Okon Akpan Nelson, Ikot Enin, Obong Ufot Jeremiah Akpan, Ikot Obio Ndoho, Obong Paulinus John Udo, Ekim, Chief Udo Isaac Udo, Council Chairman, Ibotio, Chief Frank Sunday Akrasi, Ikot Akpanden, Chief Okon Robinson, Chairman, Ikot Ekpang and Chief Eko Sam, Chairman, Ndon Village Council.

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