By Maxwell Effiong
Ahead of the reconstruction of Calabar-Itu (Odukpani axis) Federal highway, benefiting communities in Odukpani LGA of Cross River State have raised alarm over suspected fowl play in the compensation process.
Mr. Ekpenyong Akiba, spokesman for the benefiting communities recently told CrossRiverWatch that they have been suspecting “irregularities in the payment process hence, the need to raise alarm to enable the relevant authorities should come to our rescue”.
Akiba said by their calculation 38 valuers were sent to the communities but when it was time for the payment only about fourteen (14) valuers were present for the payment exercise adding that, because of the new development only those whose valuers were present successfully their due.
“The payment process for me has been full of several irregularities, removing the venue from Odukpani LGA headquarters to Calabar Municipal Council’s multipurpose room on the ground of security is a stress because people from over five communities are gathered here for the payment of both structures and crops”.
CrossRiverWatch observed at the venue that apart from not following the COVID-19 protocol, the payment exercise features nursing mothers with their babies held under the sun without being sure whether they will be compensated after all the time wasted.
Other irregularities he pointed out were the issue of short notice, “many beneficiaries are not aware of the payment exercise, many of them have passed on which is the most reason why the notice should have been sent earlier to enable the family members of the deceased be present”.
According to him, the valuers are evasive because some of them traveled back as soon as they received the cheque which is why it is incumbent upon the Government to give due diligence to the activities of it’s agents in terms of payment.
Elias Okon, one of those with special problem lamented that the valuers of his property said he has no Government approved plan. He further cried that his hope of being compensated is on a scale and that he doesn’t understand the body language of his valuers while insisting his property has been there for decades and deserves to be compensated.
Validating allegations of corruption, another beneficiary Edet Essien revealed that while signing to acknowledge receipt of money, “we were not allowed to see the actual amount attached to our name, it was blocked”.
Essien revealed further that: “If your money is NGN200,000 they will give you NGN100,000 and they would direct you to Sterling Bank with cheque but the cheque would be bounced”.
Ima-Obong Eyo is a nursing mother who after enduring the scorching weather told this reporter that she has about five hectares of farmland and that for eight days now she has been coming for the payment exercise from Odukpani but her name never gets called.
“I want Government to come and help me because that is the only farmland I cultivate for a living; feeding of my children”. She lamented.
It could be recalled that the deplorable state of Calabar-Itu (Odukpani axis) road has sent many commuters to early grave and turned many vehicles into scrap.
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