Akwa Ibom, Yoruba crisis: Ilaje community seeks review of conditions for reintegration

The Ilaje (Yoruba) people in Mkpanak, Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, who were displaced during the crisis between them and their host community, have called for the review of the conditions given to them before reintegration back to the community.

The communal clash, which started on Tuesday April 19, 2022, led to the displacement of over 10,000 Ilaje residents most of whom are still hanging around church premises and filling stations in Eket Local Government Area.

DAILY POST reports that the terms and conditions issued by the host community for the reintegration of the Ilaje people contained in a document was to instill mutual respect between the two communities and forestall further disagreement.

The conditions include, among others, that “no visitors, non-indigenes of Ibeno will buy directly from any fishing boat at the beach and anyone liable will pay a fine of 20,000, only. All catches, including grayfish and other fishes up to five basins shall be sold at the ratio of 2:3 to Mkpanak and Ilaje women.

“Catches from Tilapia draw nets will be bought by Ibeno LG women at the ratio aforementioned. Ibeno indigenes will have the first right of refusal of buying from any boats at any location. All grayfish and other fishes measured in basins or in whole will attract compulsory sale tax of N300 only payable to Ibeno women association with receipt.”

The conditions which also include boat management and landing fees, fishing expedition and community responsibilities, were handed over to the representatives of Ilaje people in the last meeting with the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo and the representatives of Ibeno community at the Government House, Uyo.

However, not satisfied with all the terms and conditions, a representative of the Ilaje, Mr. James Ajele who spoke after the meeting, said Ilaje people are prepared to abide by the conditions as stipulated in the documents, but complained of some items did not go down well with their collective interests.

He appealed to the state government and Ibeno Local Government to intervene, while urging the Ibeno community to temper justice with mercy by totally reviewing the said sections.

However, the spokesperson of the Ilaje community, Mr. Golden Ogungbemi, who spoke with our correspondent also called on the state governor, Udom Emmanuel to intervene in the situation and facilitate their return.

“We have not seen much on the ground by the government. All the government did was to provide relief materials. At one point, the government proposed a memorandum of understanding between the Ilaje people and the Ibeno people who are our host but so far nothing has been done.

“Our condition is just the same as when the incident happened. And it is really unfortunate that we are witnessing this in our own country. The constitution of this country provides that as a Nigerian you can live anywhere you choose to lawfully and it includes the right to own property.

“But it is so unfortunate that for the past 35 years or more that we have been living in Ibeno terminal specifically, what we notice is that on that fateful day irate youths took over the Yoruba community.

“All the wealth and property that we acquired over the years were taken away within a twinkle of an eye and since then we have been suffering from the pangs of hunger. You can see hunger on the faces of our people, yet the government hasn’t done anything to alleviate our sufferings.

“What we are saying is that the amiable governor of Akwa Ibom State should intervene. We want the governor to put us back in our businesses. What is so important to an Ilaje person is the source of his livelihood, which is the outboard engines.

“At the time of the incident Ibeno youths targeted our outboard engines, over 500; burnt some and took some away especially the ones that were newly bought.

“We are told that the Ibeno youths sold our outboard engines for N200,000 and N300,000 to make quick money. This is something we bought from our hard earned money at the rate of N2.450million per unit”.

Akwa Ibom, Yoruba crisis: Ilaje community seeks review of conditions for reintegration