2 hours ago/
Cross River State House of Assembly has stopped the move by Governor Ben Ayade’s decision to take over about 9,000 hectares of land across the three senatorial districts of the state, demanding explanations on why the land is being acquired.
The governor, who was said to have been out of the state for about two weeks now, New Telegraph learnt, was bent on acquiring land across the state, claiming it was for infrastructural development across the state.
But, the lawmakers, who seemed to have suspected a foul play in the governor’s claim in the wake of RUGA controversy and in view of the large land mass being acquired, calling on the committee set up by the governor on acquisition of land across the state to halt the move.
The lawmakers were also said to have summoned members of committee to appear before the House on July 23.
Meanwhile, the member, representing Boki 1 Constituency in the House, Hon. Itam Abang, who had brought the matter before the House, told the lawmakers that her constituents drew her attention to a proposed acquisition of several hectares of land in the constituency “allegedly for agricultural purposes.”
“With the current security challenges in the country, there is need for the House to investigate the matter with a view to allaying the fears of the people of the state,” she said.
This was as the lawmakers observed that considering the timing, there was the need for the people to be adequately sensitised to forestall unnecessary speculations and possible conflicts by affected communities.
The Speaker, Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams, directed that all Land Acquisition Committees set up by the governor in the three senatorial districts should be invited to appear before the House on June 23.
But, a coalition of civil society organisations, led by one Anthony Bisong of Grassroots Advocacy for Good Governance and Accountability, yesterday stormed the House to demand that the lawmakers should call the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to probe the governor’s acquisition of the people’s ancestral land.
The group in their protest letter to the House added: “We are seizing this historical moment to let you know that questions regarding all the economic trees fell by your administration in the name of the Super Highway Project across the length and breadth of the state have re-emerged.
“The state government is attempting to acquire our ancestral land and we do not know the state of those economic trees that they have fallen. We wish to know the state of those fallen economic trees; where they are and if they have been sold, we wish to know the dealers involved and the amount of money raised as well as where such funds are currently being used.
“We condemn the lack of transparency surrounding the felling of the economic trees, the attempt to acquire our land with great biodiversity and economic importance. All the people of Cross River want to know.”