by crossriverwatch admin
Bakassi indigenes ejected from their Efut Obot Ikot village by Cameroonian authorities in March and now sheltering in St. Mark Primary School, Ikot Eyo in Akpabuyo Local Government area are now in a standoff with the Bakassi local government officials who want them to relocate to Ekpri Ikang in Bakassi.
To eject the returnees on Saturday, the council went with soldiers to the camp but the returnees escaped to the bush and used fell palm trees to barricade the St. Mark Primary School Ikot Eyo where they are presently camped to stop the relocation plan by the Bakassi local Government claiming that the new place was not safe and conducive for them. “That place where they are relocating us is where they ejected some other refugees who have been living there since 2008 and if we go there those who have been ejected would attack us with machetes” said Ene Etim, the camp commandant.
According to Mr Etim, their experience in that place in 2008 was dreadful which they would not want to go through again. “In 2008, when we were in that camp, government gave each of us N15, 000 soon after the government officials left, the Obutong people who live there attacked us with machetes and collected the money”. Etim said
Prince Aston Joseph Asuquo the Liaison Officer for the returnees said the people would rather die in their present place of abode rather than venture to Ekpri Ikang which is not safe for them. “ Just yesterday (Saturday), one returnee whose three sons have been missing since the attack on us by Cameron Gendarmes went to the village to see if he could locate the bodies of his missing sons and he was shot in the head and we are now trying to bring his body out of there”.
He said the best option is to speedily take the people to DaySpring which they want to be resettled rather than go to Ekpri Ikang which is inhabited by other refugees who would attack them and start another spate of killing in the area. “We have identified the DaySpring which we want to be resettled so that we can start a new life there because these people you see here, none of them came out with anything; it is better to take them to where they can be safe”.
Prince Asuquo who gave the name of the returnee who was killed by the Cameroonian as Ene Asuquo said the Cameroonians have occupied their village and have been armed by the Gendarmes to attack and kill any Nigerian who ventures to the village. “The Cameroonians have taken over our Efut Obot Ikot village and anyone of us that ventures there is shot dead”
A Bakassi council official who refused to give his name said the whole “issue is being stage managed and the returnees manipulated by Senator Florence Ita Giwa who wants to use them for political bargain and economic gain”.
However, the Bakassi Local Government Council led by its chairman, Dr. Eyo Ekpo which took soldiers to the camp to dislodge the returnees said council has prepared a place at Ekpri Ikang for the returnees. “School will resume on Monday and there is no way the returnee and the school pupils can be in the same place”. The Chairman said.
According to Ekpo, the council has the interest of the returnees and has ensured that “The Ekpri Ikang which is Bakassi is safe for the returnees and it will afford the council the opportunity to take care of the welfare of the returnees”.
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