Residents of a community in Ikot Enebong in the outskirt of Calabar are afraid that their recently built houses, no fewer than 70, may soon be pulled down by the Cross River Basin Development Authority, which lays claim to their land.
Our correspondent reports that locals in Ikot Enebong, Ikot Nkebre and adjoining communities have been battling to contain erosion threatening their houses for long and the recent threat by the agency to demolish the houses on the claim that they encroached on the basin’s lands, have further aggravate their worries.
Speaking to journalists, chairman of the Ikot Enebong Neighbourhood, Mr. Simon Sunny Ejue, said the managing director of the authority, Engr. Bassey E. Nkposong, had at a meeting, vowed to demolish over 70 houses in the community for encroachment.
Ejue alleged that the basin had created an artificial gully in the disputed boundary to sack them from their homes.
In a Save Our Soul (SOS) letter to the state Commissioner for Environment, the community said the MD was deliberately excavating a pathway of 12 feet deep to form an artificial erosion gully calculated to wreak havoc, flooding and destruction of valuable properties as well as put their lives in danger.
“We are humbly sending this SOS to your good office for your urgent attention and intervention to stop further destruction of our properties and save our lives from man-created environmental problems leading to a gully erosion and flooding,” it said.
He added that despite warning from the Cross River State House of Assembly and the Ministry of Lands that he had no such rights, the MD went ahead to order for excavations of some parts of the land leading to the creation of an erosion gully in the area.
Ejue lamented that “Several homes are being flooded with some fences broken down, properties and farms being swept away leaving most of us in a precarious condition.
“We are calling on the government, especially the Cross River State Ministry of Environment, Cross River Coordinator of Nigeria Erosion/Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) and the Cross River State Environmental Protection Agency to come to our rescue,” the letter read in part.
Reacting, the MD, Mr. Nkposong said all illegal occupants of the authorities lands as well as others belonging to the federal government in any part of the country are going to be ejected very soon.
He said the federal government was presently taking inventory of all its lands and had begun to fence them all to stop further encroachment.
On why he excavated a pathway, he said it was to ensure that those who were encroaching into federal government land would realise that they were occupying the land illegally.
“I won’t cede a square meter of the land to anybody because the federal government didn’t send me to do that.
“I have written to the appropriate government authority and they’re in the process of coming to eject them. So we’re just looking at each other, none of them has any claims and they’ll lose.
“Right now, the federal government is taking inventory of all its lands in the whole of the federation and fencing them round. Thereafter, illegal occupants will be ejected.
“We have advised them to go back to the people who sold the lands to them.
Nkposong said, “The original landlords have also assured that they can’t sell basin land and that they know it’s basin land so anybody who’s selling basin land is doing so on their own and at their own peril.”
He threatened that he may have to involve security agencies if the community persisted in confronting the basin authority.