By Emmanuel Unah
Mrs. Tina Banko Agbor and Hon Mark Obi, aides of the Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade are at war over the control of an oil palm estate in Nku-Borum in Boki Local Government Area of the State.
The war which has left a 37 year old woman dead has also claimed many houses, five policemen wounded and several people with wounds has been raging for the past three weeks causing residents of the community to flee into hiding in the forests and others into exile.
The feuding parties, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Tina Agbor and Hon. Mark Obi, the Special Adviser on Administration Governor’s Office who are both from the community have been at saggers drawn over the allocation of plots in government owned Nku oil palm estate.
“Ever since Governor Ayade selected Tina Banko Agbor as the Secretary to State Government, Boki has not known peace. Yes, selected, I repeat it because she did not contest any election and now Banko Agbor has gone everywhere to tell people she is number three citizen in the State and that as Secretary to Government any other person does not matter and whatever she speaks Government approves that is why we are where we are,” Mark Obi said.
He narrated that one McTony Agan, Special Adviser to Governor Ayade on Infrastructure went to his office in company of Juliana Bisong, a member of State Universal Basic Education, SUBEB, Mr. Paul Atsu, a member of the Border Communities Development Commission in June 2016 to demand for plots in the Nku –Borum palm estate and that the plots earlier allocated to some political leaders from the area and who are no more in Government should be reallocated to them since they are now in power.
His words: “The mentioned Atta Ochinke, Soni Abang, Abubakar Ewa, and others who were political office holders from Boki but are no more in Government and that those plots should be given to them but I said I don’t know anything about plots in the estate since I don’t own plots there but there should exercise patience for me to meet with the management of the estate to discuss their demand”.
According to Hon. Obi he met with l the management of the estate and discussed the demands of McTony’s group with Mr. David Aniye, the Executive Secretary of the State Privatization Council since the estate is under the supervision the Privatization Council to work out ways to accommodate the group in the plot ownership at the appropriate time.
According to him, the discussion with the Privatization Council management is incognizance of the fact that there is a subsisting law passed by the State House of Assembly which transferred the estate to the Privatization Council for privatization though the Government of Senator Liyel Imoke could not conclude the privatization process for the estate but left it in the management of the privatization Council.
“The Secretary of the Privatization Council stated that the estate lease has been reduced from six years to six months since the place was undergoing privatization to allow a short period for plot owners to manage so that no one person can hold unto the estate for too long to give room for plots to be handed over to new owners when privatization is completed.
“The new lease was to expire in July 2016 and renewal would be done after that which would make it possible for them to be allocated plots since some plot owners may have died, some relocated, some unable to manage it in accordance with the standard set and some may no longer be interested in the estates which the agitators agreed. But when the July came and the process for the relocation started, McTony Agam went to the estate with his thugs, got the manager well beaten and that the governor had given him power to take over the estate and had removed the manager from office,” Mark said.
He said subsequently, Agam made a petition to the Governor that the manager of the estate is defrauding the Government and that he could manage the estate better but this was refuted by the commissioner for finance that the payment from that account was taken during the single account period, “When Mc Tony could not have his way, he enlisted Mrs. Tina Agbor and she bought the idea because she sees me as an mortal enemy and that she hates me to her bone marrow and she has been saying it everywhere and Boki people like Barrister George Ekpungu is one of the, former Chairman of Boki PDP now Chairman of Forestry Commission and Professor Florence Obi who is her best friend, Hon Hilary Bisong are all witnesses”.
He said Mrs. Agbor’s grouse is that she ran election with him in 1999 and he won her even as he had done everything to appease her she has refused to make peace with him.
This is the issue and in the past one month, she has been getting the police to arrest my people and causing me to go and bail them because her intention is to impoverish me. And when she saw that was not working, she and McTony Agam designed a allegation that I was buying guns and sponsoring cultists in Nku Borum because I am one of them”.
What prompted the conflict that claimed the life of the woman was when on Monday, police on the instruction of Mrs. Agbor went to the community with a truck to pack oil mills, fresh palm fruits and other items which prompted the youths to resist. “I am not in the village when the police went there and could not have instigated the youths and women to protest the forceful confiscation of their oil mills and other items.”
Mrs. Agbor refused to comment, saying she will soon call a press conference to address the matter.
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