Protest in Calabar over state’s move to take naval land

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The face-off between the Nigerian Navy and the Cross River Government has continued to gather pace with the Cross River State Progressives Forum (CRISPROF) taking to the streets protesting against the state government’s move to take over land belonging to the Navy.

The state government and Navy have been at loggerheads over who owns the parcel of land situated around Governor’s Office in the Hope Waddel axis of Calabar metropolis.

While the state government through its agencies have threatened to take over the land forcefully, alleging that there is a subsisting court ruling against the Navy occupation of the disputed land, the Navy has kept calm and rather going on developing the land.

Last week, some groups protested in front of governor’s office against the Navy’s occupation of the land, alleging that the Navy is occupying the land illegally and should quit.

However, another set of protesters numbering over 100 on Tuesday went round some major streets of Calabar including Mary Slessor Avenue, Calabar Road and Moore road, calling on Governor Ben Ayade administration to leave Navy alone and face other lands as they have contributed to the security of the state.

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Addressing journalists shortly after the protest, the group’s spokesperson, Barr Eyo Nsa Ekpo said the group decided to take to the streets in order to express their grievances against what it described as an attempt by the state government to take the state anticlockwise.

They accused Governor Ayade led administration of having a penchant for grabbing land without recourse to following due process, urging the Attorney General of Cross River State to refer the state Governor to section 49 of the land use Act so as to call his principal to order.

Ekpo, a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) and one time aspirant to House of Representatives for Calabar Municipality/Odukpani federal constituency, said it is high time Governor Ben Ayade focused on addressing insecurity challenges facing the state especially kidnapping which has unleashed fear on residents, wondering why government is afraid that Navy is erecting an ultra-modern hotel on the disputed piece of land.

He said: “This is something that other people in other states are struggling to have. Unfortunately, our state government wants to take the land which had been occupied by the Navy in the last 40 years.”

“By section 49 of the Land Use Act, if a federal government agency has occupied the land before the coming into force of the Land Use Act of 1978 no state government has the power to revoke their right of occupancy.

“Therefore, If the state government wants to take over any parcel of land it should follow due process. They have to publish a notice of revocation of the right of occupancy, Unfortunately, this state governor has published none, rather they go about grabbing peoples’ land,” he stated.

Reacting, the Commissioner for Information, Comrade Asu Okang, maintained that state government under the watch of Governor Ayade has no intention to take over the parcel of land in contention.

He explained that the said parcel of land use to be an annexe of Pregriono (an arm of Government House) which it gave to the Navy, wondering why it wasn’t the Navy personal who are leading the protest but youths who feel it has become their right to protest.

“As a responsible government, we have no intention to cause pain to the Navy,” he added.


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