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Ekpene Ukim Crises: Two Lawmakers On War Path.

…Uruan Lawmaker sues for peace …
“the protest is illegal”- fmr. Liason officer …
“the demolition is one-sided”- Hon. Kufre Etuk
By Torobong Ekpo

The lawmaker representing Uruan State Constituency, Hon. Aniekan Bassey has called on Protestants in the ongoing Ekpene Ukim Crises in Uruan Local Government area, to channel their grievances to appropriate quarters, and avoid taking laws into their hands. Hon. Bassey while briefing newsmen in his office said that, owners of the demolished houses should verify with the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA), if their edifice comply with the set down rules and regulation of government.

He described Uruan as a peaceful Local Government, expressing optimism that, in no distance time, peace will be restored back to the domain.

“Gentlemen, I want to plead with my fellow brothers, sisters, sons, daughter, my fathers and mothers from Ekpene Ukim village in Uruan local Government Area, to please verify from UCCDA, if the demolished buildings comply with the government rules and regulation. I doubt if the state government would have tamper with an edifice, which has gotten an approval. However, I am pleading that, protest may not proffer lasting solution to the problem; I am suggesting that, the victims should channel their grievances to the appropriate quarters. It is a delicate issue, thus, we need not to go contrary to the law, “Uruan is a peaceful place, I can assure you that, in no distance time, peace will be restored in Ekpene Ukim village” He said.

In his remark, Mr. Edet Michael Bassey, a former Community Liaison Officer (CLO) of the disputed road, described the protest as illegal, noting that, compensations were paid to the Protestants, while he was still the Community liaison officer of the place. Bassey, who was a former Secretary of the Ekpene Ukim Village council, said that, Uyo Capital City Development Authority had earlier warned people not to encroach into the land. Bassey, a native of the community stressed that all the demolished houses were previously marked by UCCDA. “I am aware that demolitions have been carried out by the government, but I don’t think the government has encroached into any land that has gotten an approval. I do know that, after the design of that road, I was the community liaison officer of the Ibom Airport Development Company. As at the time the road construction was given to Gitto Company, I was still there, there was no CLO, so I was borrowed from Ibom Airport Company to serve as CLO there. I was in charge of all the companies that were working in the airport as at then, I used to work with them, and I could recall when the estate valuer came in to pay compensation. I do know that compensations were paid at Afrique Bank (Now Sky bank) and people were given individual Cheque. One Mr. Tarsly from Rivers State was the estate valuer who was in charge of the project.

“I was also in the village council, when one Dr. Ukpong urged the villagers to be weary of places to develop, since a letter from UCCDA has been sent to the community regarding that aspect. Before these demolitions that are causing uproar, UCCDA has marked those buildings, which show that it was a warning to them. At least I used to see inscription such as ‘Stop work’, on those building, but unfortunately, owners gave deaf ears. “Almost all the buildings are uncompleted buildings, and I don’t think there is any, that have not been marked before demolition” He claimed.

Responding, Hon. Kufre Etuk, a former lawmaker, coincidentally, an indigene of the area, wondered the rationale behind the demolition, noting that, it was wrapped with bias and partiality.

The All Progressive Congress House of Assembly candidate urged the government to avoid a repetition of demolition that occurred in Nturukupm village some years ago, due to kidnapping saga.

“I am not disputing the fact that, there are some new houses, but there are also some other houses that are older than me. Those houses were built even before the creation of this state. If there are houses that are not in compliance with the government directive, it can’t be in Uruan alone. If you are saying that, there are houses that are built within 50 meters from the main road, please begin to demolish it to wherever it is going to stop, not only in my community alone.

“There are gigantic buildings such as Akpabioism and some others that are owned by prominent personalities, that have not been demolish. My complain is, if you are demolishing all the houses that do not comply with the rule, then go ahead and demolish all the houses, let me see how many houses will be demolished.

“It’s not like you are starting the dualization of that road now, or the second or third phase, the government is busy awarding new roads, they have not started anything there, yet they are demolishing houses.

“Don’t go to my community and demolish but refuse to do so to another place because of the personalities involved, Uruan people are protesting, because they have had instance were government went to Nturukpm and demolish the entire village, because of kidnapping. Till date, they are still kidnapping people, but government has not done so to other places. So why is Uruan always the only local government usually used by the state government to start experimenting its policies?” The Former Lawmaker questioned.

All effort to reach the chairman of the Uruan Council proves abortive as he didn’t respond to his calls. Meanwhile, it was gathered that, several villagers have sustained severe injuries as a result of the protest, which has turned bloody and a daily routine.

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