Tension is rising in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State over alleged plan to cede 17 communities and about 56 oil wells in the council.
The House of Assembly had, in a resolution, mandated the Surveyor-General of the state to produce a ‘generally acceptable, approved and gazetted map for the state.
It also resolved that Governor Udom Emmanuel, upon approval of the new map, should immediately gazette it as the official map of the state government.
This is even as the House Committee chairman on Information, Hon Aniefiok Akpan (Etinan state constituency) said that the resolution was “borne out of concern and grievances from people of Akwa Ibom State.”
However, the Secretary General of Ilima, a socio-cultural organisation working for the promotion of the ideals of Eastern Obolo people, Dr Amah William, at a media briefing on Sunday, alleged that the new map, if approved, would distort the original map of Eastern Obolo and cede 17 of its communities to Onna, Mkpat Enin, and Ikot Abasi LGAs.
He described the move as not only “unconstitutional but manifestly mischievous and a calculated land grabbing strategy.”
William argued that the ceding of the affected communities would confer on Onna, Mkpat Enin, and Ikot Abasi the status of “littoral LGAs with unfettered access to the Atlantic Ocean to the detriment of the people of Eastern Obolo.
“The purported new Akwa Ibom State map clearly and adversely affects the original map of Eastern Obolo LGA.
“By the said map, several Eastern Obolo communities such as Atabrikang, Iko, Edonwik, Okorombokho, Elekpong, Elile, Amadaka, Ikonta, Obianga, Amauka, Okorobilom, Uzubor, Isiotoyo, Amanglass, Bethlehem,I wofe, and even parts of Okeroete have been ceded to Onna, Mkpat Enin and Ikot Abasi LGAs.
“For the purpose of clarity, Eastern Obolo and Mbo are the only littoral local government areas bounded by the Atlantic Ocean in Akwa Ibom State.
“Eastern Obolo alone has more than 56 oil wells located within its territorial precincts. Therefore, the so-called remapping or adjustment of the original map of Akwa Ibom State as it relates to Eastern Obolo is not only illegal and unconstitutional but manifestly mischievous, divisive, discriminatory, repugnant to the good conscience and a calculated land grabbing strategy which has failed, ab-initio,” William said.
Continuing, he noted that, “The purported boundary adjustment is a flagrant contravention of Section 8 sub-section 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“We want to state unequivocally that the purported adjustment of the map of Akwa Ibom State as it affects Eastern Obolo LGA is null, void, illegal, unconstitutional and of no effect as you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.”
Responding, the House Committee chairman on Information, Hon Aniefiok Akpan (Etinan state constituency) said the resolution was borne out of concern and grievances from people of Akwa Ibom State, adding that the House urged the relevant bodies to ensure that a concise map is produced and gazetted for the state.
Akpan averred, “The House was concerned because of such agitations and grievances which led to the resolution that an acceptable map should be drawn to ensure that there is peace in Akwa Ibom State.
“The House urged relevant bodies who are in charge of remapping to ensure that an acceptable and concise map is produced and gazetted for the state.”
The lawmaker called on the people to direct their complaint to the Office of the Surveyor General of the state, adding that it is not the duty of the state House of Assembly to produce a map.