It all started like a dream which no one knew the interpretation or aftermath. It is the month of March 2019 and the peaceful community of Okambi is recovering from the hustle and bustle of the New Year and just days after the General Elections where the Governor had been generously handed a second term in office with people settling down to the routines of life in the Community. The duo of Eric Akpo and Joseph Adie (Jungle Joe) summon a joint meeting of Okambi and Ikwomikwu, to Ikwomikwu at the Palace of the Clan Head of Okambi/Ikwomikwu Clan; Utsu Isaac Ugbe to announces the decision of the His Excellency the Governor of Cross River State to site an Airport within the premises of these 2 Communities.
Naturally, the people are happy and feel lucky to host the airport project. The Okambi Community agrees like others and goes home to sleep with the expectation that the natural process will follow towards the acquisition of land as specified by the law, unknown to them that the style of this regime is different from standard procedure or due process.
Concerns and trouble started just a week after the announcement of Government intention to build the airport project, when barely one week after the announcement, Eric Akpo and co arrived in Ikwomikwu with a bag of money over his shoulder and bulldozers to commence the clearing and destruction of the ecosystem in the name of constructing an airport with payment of compensation to farm owners as the spirit directs.
Alarmed by the turn of events, the Okambi Community Council and Development Associations (ODAs) nationwide decided to act before irreparable damage was done by the Government without recourse to the due processes. This decision was after the realization that Government agents had taken advantage the Community’s illiterate Chiefs poor foresight with promises of jobs for the children, building of new houses and buying of cars for them.
The following timelines will explain to the world what has transpired between the Okambi Community and the Cross River State Government regarding the airport project. The saddest point is the decision of His Excellency the Governor to engage proxies to work in place of the statuary Ministries/MDA to conduct business of the State on this project.
- Ministry of Lands and Urban Development was not involved in the project until the 1st of October, 2019.
- Hiring of airport Project Manager without education or requisite experience to drive the process of project implementation for a project of this scope and magnitude without consideration of the image of the State or his own status as a Professor and Governor of the State.
- Assigning responsibilities of estate valuer to Eric Akpo in the beginning of the project without recourse to his own profession or the fact that land acquisition and compensation are the absolute responsibilities the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development.
OBUDU INTERNATIONAL CARGO AND PASSENGER AIRPORT ACTIVITIES TIMELINE IN OKAMBI COMMUNITY.
|1||March 2019||First meeting with Community to inform them of Government plans to build airport.||Eric Akpo and Joseph Adie (Jungle Joe)||Community accepts the project without objection.|
|2||March 2019||Government commenced bulldozing of farms and clearing of Community lands.||Eric Akpo/Paul Obi||Community taken aback by immediate take-off of bush clearing.|
|3||March 2019||Okambi Community requested for a letter for Government to the above effect.||Counsel to Okambi Community Council/ODA||Okambi decision reached as a result of lack of due process in land acquisition and non-existence EIA for the project.|
|4||21st April, 2019||CRSG published back dated expression of interest for the feasibility study and designs of the airport with an expired date for return of interest by consultants.||Chronicle Newspaper||An obvious oversight reaction from the realization that people are naive and foolish as Government agents expected.
The Court will determine the validity of this publication.
|5||25th April, 2019||Community received first letter from Cross River State Government of its desire to build Airport with the community land amongst others.||Eric Akpo||First official communication from CRSG on the airport project.|
|6||April 2019||Confrontation between Okambi Community (Youths, Women and Men) leading to the death of Mr. Raphael Ushie.||Community people on ground during Government action.||Results in temporary suspension of bulldozing and destruction in the Okambi.|
|7||16th May, 2019||Okambi Community sent a letter to the Governor to file their complaints.||Counsel to Okambi Community Council/ODA||No acknowledgement and no response to date.|
|8||21st May, 2019||Cross River State Government published a back dated revocation of lands and coordinates for Airport project.||Punch Newspapers||Community senses fear of total up-take of available land by Government.
The Court will determine the validity of this publication.
|9||22nd May, 2019||Mr. Raphael Andielgwe Ushie dies as a result of the trauma of watching the destruction of his palm oil plantation.||First casualty of the airport project in Okambi.|
|10||26th May, 2019||Okambi Community begin the survey of its community land to ascertain the extent of land taken by the airport as published by the coordinates.||Okambi Community Council/ODA||Completed and to be tendered in Court.|
|11||30th May, 2019||Okambi Community petition Paul Obi to the Inspector General of Police for arming youths and inciting violence in the community.||Counsel to Community Council/ODA||Pending investigation and document to be tendered in Court during trial of Paul Obi.|
|12||31st May, 2019||Okambi Community file a suit against Cross River State High Court, Calabar.||Counsel to Okambi Community Council/ODA||Hon. Justice Akon Ikpeme refused hear the case.|
|13||3rd June, 2019||The Governor meets with Atiekpe, Ikwonikwu, Okambi and Igwo Communities at Perogrino Hall to address the Airport host communities.||H.E. Ben. Ayade & aids (Eric Akpo, Paul Obi & Joseph Adie)||The meeting was called to ridicule and intimidate Okambi Community into submission of giving up their land without proper acquisition by the State with agents like Spokesman Agogo.|
|14||14th June, 2019||Okambi Community officially complained to the Paramount Ruler of Obudu LGA Uti J.D.Agba and its Council on forceful style of land acquisition from Okambi by the state government and||Selected Elders of Okambi Community led by Mr. Bonnie Adie||The Paramount Ruler and his Clan Heads came to the meet with the Community at the Clan Head of Okambi/Ikwomikwu’s Palace and decided not intervene in the matter.|
|15||16th July, 2019||Okambi Community sent a petition to the Hon. Minister of Federal Ministry of Environment on EIAs concerns.||Okambi Community Council||Federal Ministry of Environment acknowledges notification to threat.|
|16||24th July, 2019||Federal Ministry Environment visited the Community on fact finding over EIA.||Eric Akpo/FME Staff||No report published up till now.|
|17||19th August, 2019||Okambi Community Council/Okambi Development Association re-filed a suit against CRSG at the High Court in Obudu.||Counsel to Okambi Community Council/ODA||Case is ongoing but completely ignored by the agents of CRSG.|
|18||1st October, 2019||CRSG communicates with the Community for the second time, stating its intention enumerates land owners for compensation.||Mr. Celestine Atsu||Exercise petitioned to CRSG and ignored.|
|19||26th October, 2019||Okambi Community petition the Paul Obi’s activities and the Obudu Division of Nigeria Police failure to arrest him over incision of violence and arming youths in the Community to the Federal Ministry of Defence||Counsel to Okambi Community/ODA||Investigations are on-going, exhibit shall be tendered in Court during Paul’s prosecution in the near future.|
|20||9th January, 2020||Okambi Community petitions CRSG on payment of compensation due to compromised process in Okambi.||Counsel to Okambi Community Council/ODA||Petition ignored by the Commissioners for Lands and Urban Development and Aviation respectively.|
|21||February 2020||CRSG commences payment of compensation to Airport Communities.||Akomaye and Associate, an Attorney appointed for the Community by Mr. Celestine Atsu and Paul Obi||Still ongoing and full of sharp practices.|
|22||19th March, 2020||Court advised Counsel of government and Okambi Community to stay action until suit is heard.||Justice Ofem, High Court of Obudu||Verbal order disobeyed by CRSG.|
|23||13th April, 2020||Airport project manager Mr. Paul Obi returned to resume work in Okambi against Court advise.||Paul Obi and armed cultists||Community members are chased away from project site.|
|24||6th of April, 2020||Commissioner for Aviation wrote the 3rd CRSG Communication to Okambi Community about the airport project; to notify them of commencement of work on Okambi land.||Hon. Jake Otu Enyia||Community replied through its Counsel.|
|25||9th April, 2020||Okambi Community responded to Commissioner’s letter.||Counsel to Okambi Community/ODA||Ignored by the Commissioner.|
|26||20th April, 2020||Commissioner for Aviation visited the Okambi Community and issued a threat about issues of work interruption by the Community.||Jake Otu Enya in company of Paul Obi||Frustration, fear and intimidation sent into the hearts of the Community.|
|27||21st April, 2020||Airport Project Manager Mr. Paul Obi commenced selective destruction of palm plantation of those concerned about the land acquisition style of the Airport project.||Paul Obi||Commissioner reports success of resolution of Okambi issues in Government information newsletter in Calabar while Paul Obi declared 7 perceived enemies of his in the Community wanted and vowed to cause Police to arrest them.|
|28||25th April, 2020||House of Assembly representative for Obudu and SA to the Governor on Cargo Airport visits Okambi on fact finding mission and visited the site with Commissioner for Aviation & Appointed Estate Valuer for the Community.||Hon. Godwin Akwaji (CRHA)
Godwin Undeshi (SA Cargo Airport
Jake Out Enya (Com. For Aviation)
|They saw the selective and malicious destruction by Paul Obi for themselves and express regrets.|
|29||26th April, 2010||Okambi Community files another suit of human rights violation against Paul Obi, others and the CRSG at the federal high Court in Calabar since state Courts are on covid-19 vacation.||Counsel to Okambi Community Council/ODA||Paul Obi, Jake Otu Enya, Nigeria Police and other 4 persons to stand trial.|
|30||27th April, 2020||Paul Obi continued further destruction of farms and plantations against advice of visiting team on 25th April, 2020 with support of the Police.||Paul Obi||Commissioner for Aviation when contact said Paul did not have his clearance to continue but said nothing can be done to stop him till he visits the Community in person again.|
|31||30th April, 2019||House of Assembly member representing Obudu and Commissioner for Aviation returned to Okambi Community for peace talk.||Hon. Godwin Akwaji (Member, CRHA) & Jake Otu Enya (Commissioner For Aviation)||The Community request for Paul Obi to be removed from Okambi land and assurance that the 7 persons who fled from the Community because of Paul’s threat of arrest be guaranteed safety before possible peace talks can commence.|
|32||11th May, 2020||Appointees of CRSG from Obudu LGA visited the Airport host communities to ascertain the extent of development of the project and listen to the concerns of the Communities.||High Chief Eugene Akeh, Chief Anthony Undiandeye, Dr. Peter Adigeb, Mr. Godwin Undeshi, Mr. Martin Orim, Mr. Kenneth Alah and others.||They saw for themselves the inglorious activities and destructions all in the name of development by the Government and its agents.|
|Note: it is interesting to share that in all this information above all backed with dates and verifiable facts, our illustrious son and brother, the Governor Prof. Ben. Ayade has remained silent to every correspondence and representations to him on this subject.|
While we want the world to know this story and share our pain, it is interesting to note that as of today the following have transpired;
- Agents of the State Government are pushing on with the airport project despite the lack of due process in land acquisition and other considerations required such as the EIA, the ongoing Court case against the State Government by the Okambi Community for which the Courts have directed both parties to stay action. They have also continued with the use of thugs and cultists to force work to continue.
- The Aviation Ministry is looking for ways to validate all activities previously carried out by agents of the Government rather than engaging the state Governor to discontinue the use of unconventional means of Land acquisition and project implementation. Jake Enya has unfortunately become a lackey of a tout rather than a lawyer and Law teacher that he is.
- Okambi Community has become factionalized due to cash inducement of illiterate Chiefs who now buy arms for their own children to join Paul Obi to reign terror in the Community for the sake of the airport project.
- The airport Project Manager (Mr. Paul Obi) reports directly to the Governor and has control of the Divisional Police Station in Obudu as well as the Squadron Commander of the MOPOL unit in Obudu. Therefore, the Police raid homes of purported/perceived “enemies” of Paul Obi and remove property and valuables if they don’t find their arrest target.
- The Governor has suddenly lost memory of all his family ties with Okambi Community, his own political appointees and other prominent citizens from Okambi whom he has known and perhaps been of use to him at some point in time but prefers to deploy the Commissioner for Aviation and others to go for peace talks in Okambi rather than taking personal interest in the Community which is geographically next to his village and solve the problems to get (his) project going.
- The okambi Community does not feel hopeless and believes in the wheel of justice grinding to its favour in the end. They are now convinced that Governor Ayade has betrayed their confidence and votes at the 2015 and 2019 elections.
- The struggle continues!!!
Adie Adugba is a Cross Riveriam, a native of Okambi Community and writes from Calabar.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Adie Adugba and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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