C’River seaport project suffers setback over compensation payment

The proposed Bakassi deep seaport project of the Cross River government seems to be having another hurdle to climb as the Idua Inwang Esighi community hosting the project says it would not guarantee security of personnel and machines due to issues surrounding payment of compensation.

Their position was contained in a letter addressed to Governor Ben Ayade, dated November 23 2020, signed by solicitor to the village council, Ozinko O. Ozinko, and made available to our reporter, Tuesday.

The village council expressed anger that the state government was negotiating with and paying compensation to a former village caretaker committee chairman, Mr Ankot Bassey Antigha, who the council said had since been removed from that position.

The community lawyer explained that the former caretaker committee chairman, who he said has been stripped of all rights and privileges, had allegedly collected “monies meant for the compensation of the people directly affected by the deep seaport and embezzled same thereby frustrating government efforts, giving rise to security challenges and insurrections.”

He frowned at the payment of monies to an individual instead of the people affected by the project and noted that “Compensation has never been known to be paid to people who are not directly affected but to individuals who own properties, economic trees, land, pond, assets etc on the chosen location.

“It is quite essential that the security of the project be guaranteed by doing the proper thing at the onset to forestall any unseen incident like insurrections, community uprising, insurgency in the already volatile area of Bakassi. Idua Inwang, which is the main host community (of the seaport project) has been cheated and sidelined in the whole compensation arrangement.”

The letter warned the government against having any further dealing with the said former caretaker committee chairman to avoid “conducts inimical to the security of the already volatile area.”

Our reporter also sighted two documents, dated 30th September 2020 and October 22, 2020 respectively, which purported to have removed the said caretaker chairman with a new 9-man caretaker committee, headed by Chief Ene Adim Okon, constituted.

Despite repeated efforts, our reporter could not contact Mr Antigha for his own side of the story.

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