They alleged that this move has encroached upon areas where Ijaw communities reside within the state.
By Johnson Atoukudu
A group of House of Representatives members representing the Ijaw tribe have accused the Akwa Ibom State Government of plotting to seize control of territories in the state that belong to the Ijaw people and are rich in oil and gas resources.
During a press conference held in Abuja on Thursday, Dagomie Abiante (PDP/Rivers), a prominent member of the House, along with other members of the Ijaw Legislators’ Forum, criticized the recent redrawing of local government boundaries in Akwa Ibom State. They alleged that this move has encroached upon areas where Ijaw communities reside within the state.
The remapping exercise is being carried out based on the Akwa Ibom State Map Establishment Law 2023, which was passed by the state House of Assembly.
The introduction and passage of this bill have sparked controversy and garnered mixed reactions, particularly in the local government areas of Obolo, Mbo, and Ibeno within Akwa Ibom State.
Abiante said, “This briefing is centred on the alleged remapping of local government areas in Akwa Ibom State. This action was allegedly conducted within a few days to the exit of the immediate-past governor against all regulations and all requirements, attempting to take the land belonging to the Ijaw nation.
“Our thinking is that, with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, persons who do not have any bearing with the oil exploration within the state are waiting to seize part of the land so that it would qualify them as host communities. We are not bothered; we are not worried. The fact is that the bulk of the resources accruing to Akwa Ibom State is derivable from the oil within the local government areas of the Ijaw nation. Eastern Obolo, Ibeno and Mbo local government areas are the LGAs that we know are oil-producing.
“We have come with the aspirations, the desires, the pains and the cries of our people to say ‘no, this should not be.’”
“In a democracy, the strong are obligated to protect and defend the weak.
“We have come, crying and saying ‘please, this should not happen to our people. It is against morality; it is against justice; it is also against the laws of our land,” the lawmaker said.