Lawyer threatens to sue Akwa Ibom’s government


Inibehe Effiong, a Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, has threatened to take legal action against the Akwa Ibom state government over an alleged attempt to seize his clients’ property.

The State Government had, in the Pioneer Newspaper publication of Monday June 2021, announced via Akwa Ibom State Notice No. 002/2021, a revocation of the right to occupy Land No. 1 -169, Government Residence Block “G” Area (excerpt), Anua Offot/Eniong Offot/Use Offor/Ifa Ikot Okpon, Etoi, Uyo Local Government Area with Survey Plan No.: AK/U 175.

The publication also said the “revocation” was for “public purposes absolutely and in particular for the purposes of streamlining”.

But in a letter to the state government on behalf of its clients; Kufre Akpan, Itoro Essang, Henry Ambros Ekpenyong, Aniebiet Henry Ambros and Aniebiet Effiong Robert, who are the true owners of the land, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent in Uyo on Sunday, Effiong called the publication “legally untenable”. ”.

According to him, neither the state nor the federal government has the right to forcibly seize land belonging to a citizen without payment of compensation.

He added that the attempt to “seize plots of land belonging to our clients under the guise of revocation for ‘public and rationalization’ purposes is a slap in the face of the Nigerian Constitution”, adding that his clients have never been warned.

He therefore demanded that the state government confirm in writing, within 7 days of receipt of this letter, that he will not encroach on any land belonging to the customers, adding that he would not hesitate to file a complaint. legal action if the state government has failed to do so.

The letter reads in part: “Our clients are puzzled by the alleged revocation which, in essence, boldly declares the government’s intention to seize parcels of land belonging to our clients and other citizens and rationalize them (attribute) to certain political cronies and ‘Senior government officials’, as Governor Udom Emmanuel alluded to on March 1, 2022, while pointing out the development of said Emily Haven residential estate.

“We notify the Akwa Ibom State Government by this letter that publication in the Pioneer newspaper is legally untenable.

“Our clients fully reject the content of the post and are unwilling to cede an inch of their legally acquired plots to anyone for many reasons, including the following: “The government has neither compensated our clients nor initiated credible and verifiable process” for the payment of compensation”.

“We are compelled to draw your attention to Section 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which makes the payment of compensation a condition precedent to the compulsory acquisition of land by the government.

“The unlawful attempt to grab plots of land from our clients under the guise of revocation for ‘public utility and rationalization’ purposes is a slap in the face to the Nigerian Constitution.

“By law, the federal and state governments do not have the power to repossess, revoke, appropriate, or forcibly acquire land from private citizens for the purpose of rationalization or reallocation. to other citizens. Such action is brazenly illegal, reckless, immoral and unconstitutional.

“Note that we will take legal action against the state government if we do not receive your confirmation as requested.”

However, efforts to speak with the then Commissioner of Lands and Water Resources, Pst Umo Eno (now PDP candidate for the 2023 gubernatorial election) through whom the removal was channeled, n did not succeed because his line could not be reached at the time of filing this report.

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