By Inyali Peter, Calabar
A cold war is currently brewing in Obudu, Governor Ben Ayade country home as Bebuagbong community have risen against the governor for forcefully attempting to claim ownership of their parcel of land. The community has warned the governor to steer clear of their land else face revolt.
Bebaugbong community shares boundary with kakum, Ayade’s community. And the large portion of land which is causing the suppremacy fight between the governor and the community is located just behind where the governor is currently building his bungalow in his village.
Information available have it that the governor had sent some members of his family to inform some select Chiefs from the community of his plans to establish a Canadian School in the place.
The discussion which was only once ended in a deadlock as majority of the Chiefs and elders of the community denied releasing the land to the governor.
However, not satisfied with the response of the community leaders, the governor allegedly induced few elders financially and has gone ahead to survey and mark the portion of the land for excavation. The excavation was billed to commence on Tuesday, April 18.
But when Bebuagbong community heard of the arrangement, they mobilized youths and elders who stormed the place and destroyed all the ribbons used in marking the land for excavation the following day.
Also, they send a strong delegation to the Clan Head of the Governor’s community to warn him to steer clear of their land or face revolt.
It will be recalled that Ayade has consistently been accused of Land-grabbing ever since he assumed office. In about three months to his administration, Ayade was chided for forcefully claiming ownership to a portion of land in Obudu which originally belongs to St. Joseph Primary School.
Also, a community in Calabar has allegedly taken the governor to court over forceful acquisition of their located directly opposite the governor’s office where Ayade is currently building his personal residential apartment.
This has set him against his people and many communities who have vowed to go to any length to ensure they protect their heritage.
Speaking, a 69 year old elder in the community, Linus, (Second name withheld) berated the governor for forcefully and fraudulently attempting to acquire their land without due consultation and consent of the community.
Linus said that, their suspicion is that Ayade is trying to acquire the land for his family not for government which is the reason he is trying to boycott due process and use the bad door to own the land.
According to him, “Ayade said he want to build Canadian school. The question is, would the school be owned by government or him? If it’s government, we know the processes to follow to acquire land from a community.
“Government should send a delegation to our community where we can sit and negotiate. We want to know if we’re to lease the land permanently, annually or for a specific period of time. We are not fools and Ayade must stop undermining our community”.
He quarrelled that, “Ayade has acquired large portion of land in Obanliku. He came here and deceived one community that he want to build rice industry to create jobs for their youths. He got the land but has converted it to his family property. He’s building houses there for his family members.
“Even the one his community have given him, a lot of people are crying because the real owners of the land were not consulted. Go to where he is building now, he has cleared everything from that former councillor house to the other side where people were farming. Widows are crying because Ayade has destroyed their farms without compensation. People have their own in government to celebrate, why is Ayade making us cry instead?
“Everybody must not go to the city. Most of our people are farming in that place and their source of livelihood is from there. What would happen to them if we allow Ayade to destroy the land? This is a land we fought war with Ukwelugbudu many years ago about. We don’t have land in our community so we can’t afford to loose the little we have. Our children are also growing so government won’t end with Ayade”.
However, another elder in the community who spoke in confidence said that, “We want development and I think that’s what Ayade want to bring. But, I’m not saying that the land should be given to him, if it’s government that want it for school or whatsoever, due process should follow.
“I only want to appeal to our people to sheath their sword if the Governor decides to do the right thing. The Governor should be aware that he must convince us beyond reasonable doubt of what the land would be used for”.
Ben Adie, a youth from Bebuagbong community siad that the governor was looking down on them because he is the governor but they would show him that there is limit to the intimidation and harassment from him and his family members.
“Ayade is pushing us to the wall. We may not have a governor from our community but he may regret what he is doing. He has tormented us enough. Look at his leophina company that he established here, how many people from our community are working there? When they on that engine our water turn black. We have complained many times but to no avail.
“Why always Bebuagbong? The intimidation and harassment by the Ayades has become unbearable and we’re now ready for the worst. He has acquired land everywhere deceiving people that he wants to do this and that. What has he successfully done? He has not completed a single project yet he is talking of Canadian school. We are waiting for him”, he said.
To Solomon Adah, “I’m not in support of Ayade taking our land fraudulently but we must give peace a chance. I know that Ayade has been very unfair to us but is that enough reason to stop him from developing our place?
“I think we need to support the project by any means we can. If that school is established, it will open up opportunities for our youths. It will open our community to the international communities. The benefits are enormous therefore I call on our people to think twice before warring against this initiative”.