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Aggrieved land owners demand compensation from governor in southern Nigeria



Members of the association of land owners in Anua Offot, Use Offot, Ifa Ikot Okpon communities in Uyo Local Government Area of Nigeria’s oil-rich Southern State, Akwa Ibom, have appealed to the State Governor, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno, to pay the necessary compensation for lands taken by government for developmental purposes.

The Genesis

The immediate past administration in the State led by Mr Udom Emmanuel had approached the communities in 2021, demanding that parcels of lands be handed over to government for developmental purposes.

Incumbent governor, Umo Eno, served the Commissioner for Lands and Housing in the administration when the agreement was struck.

A document captioned ‘Notice of Revocation/ Acquisition And Payment Of Compensation’ prepared by Counsel to the land owners, Barr Marcellinus Marshal of Marcellinus and Co. indicates that the sum of 300,000,000 Naira shall be paid to them as compensation as well as non-tresspass into other portions not captured in the deal.

The document dated August 18, 2021, made available to Diaspora Digital Media, reads:

“That Our Clients are filly aware that Akwa lbom State Government is desirous to revoke/acquire our clients’ deemed right over their
parcels of land here in described for the purpose of caving out G- Line Road.

“That Our Clients have voluntarily agreed that their deemed rights over their parcels of land herein described be revoked and acquired by
the Akwa Ibom State Government for the purpose of caving out G-Line which will be for the best interest of the people of Akwa Ibom State.

“That Our Clients have agreed and authorized the Law firm of Marcellinus Marshall & Co. to receive notice of revocation from Akwa Ibom State Government or any of her Agency/Ministry as required by law in respect of their parcels of land to be revoked and acquired.

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“That upon the receipt of the notice stated in paragraph 3 above, Our Clients agree that the said notice shall be valid and proper notice as required by law and shall bind all of them.

“That Our Client have also agreed compensation for the said revocation/acquisition of the deemed rights to the tune of Three
Hundred Million Naira (N300,000,000.00) only.

“That Our Clients authorized and agreed that all payments and negotiations over their parcels of land to be revoked/acquired shall be through Mr Ubong Obot (Ubotex), Marcellinus Marshall Udokang Esq. and Pastor Emem B. Effanga on their behalf.

“That it is our Clients’ strong position that Akwa Ibom State Government or any of her Agency/Ministry shall not encroach or trespass into other farmlands except the farmlands for the purpose of G-Line herein described and agreed to be revoked/acquired by the
Akwa Ibom State Government.

“That Our Clients have resolved that upon notice and payment of compensation, Our Client will cooperate with the Akwa Ibom State
Government through your office to vacate the said farmlands immediately as required by law.”

What the Law says about Compensation for land taken by Government

Landowners are entitled to fair and adequate compensation for the land acquired.

The Land Use Act of 1978 governs land acquisition in Nigeria and provides for the payment of compensation.

The compensation should reflect the market value of the land at the time of acquisition, as well as any improvements on the land.

Landowners can negotiate with the government or seek legal recourse if they feel the compensation offered is inadequate.

Landowners can negotiate with the government for alternative land or suitable compensation packages.

This could involve exchanging the acquired land for an equivalent parcel in a different location or receiving compensation in the form of alternative land or other benefits.

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Negotiation is often a preferred approach to resolve disputes amicably.

Situation Report

The landowners now represented by Mr Power Anthony are alleging that the state government only paid a fraction (13,135,000,00; Thirteen million, one hundred and thirty five thousand Naira) of the agreed 100 Million Naira compensation.

He says the state government has also forcefully evicted residents by demolishing houses with household items inside.

According to him, there was no eviction notice from government.

Mr Anthony narrated:
“The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pst Umo Eno on Thursday 21st, March 2024 by invaded Anyam Farmland, along the New Ring Road 3, off Oron Road, Uyo with his entourage and perform groundbreaking on a land that compensation has not been paid.

“Former Governor Udom Emmanuel decided to intervene the land matter by officially consulting the land owners through a letter dated 25th August, 2021.

“It was agreed that One Hundred Million Naira (N100,000,000,00) would be paid. But during a meeting between the Akwa Ibom State Government, and the Concerned Land Owners regarding the acquisitions and compensation, the Akwa Ibom State Government, was represented by the said Honourable Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Pst Umo Eno, who is now the state governor.

“Pastor Umo Eno, now the Governor of Akwa Ibom State pleaded with Mr Power Anthony on behalf of the land owners, to receive only the sum of Fifteen Million Naira (N15,000,000,00).

“He promised to offer numerous appointments to land owners when he becomes governor if they would accept the said Fifteen Million Naira (N15,000,000,00), out of the promised One Hundred Million Naira (N100,000,000,00).

“Subsequently, after signing of an agreement dated 7th January, 22 with caption: Indemnity Bond, between the Akwa Ibom State Government, and the Concerned Land Owners regarding the donation, the state government paid just the sum of Thirteen Million, One Hundred and Thirty Five Thousand Naira (N13,135,000,00), through the said ministry of lands to Land Owners. Not Fifteen Million Naira (N15,000,000,00), as agreed.

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“The land owners sent letters to Pastor Umoh but owing to how busy he was during the campaigns, those letters were not given appropriate attention.”

Mr Anthony further decried that the legal representative of the association of land owners ripped them off by releasing only Five Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira (N5,800,000,00), while seizing all relevant documents regarding the transactions.

Our Correspondent who visited the communities in the past week, saw ruins of demolished buildings which stood on the new area taken by government.

“Government never negotiated with us on this new section. This is impunity. Please, help us get justice on this,” a member of  community, Gabriel Anderson, said in his interview with DDM.

“I am not aware” – Lands Commissioner

In a phone conversation with DDM correspondent, the current Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Captain Iniobong Ekong, said he was not aware of the development.

Captain Iniobong Ekong

Captain Ekong (Rtd)

“I am not aware of it. When you publish it, we would see it. If publishing the report would solve whatever problem they claim to have, please go ahead and publish it.”

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