Protests by community leaders and youths of Ekpri Nsukara Offot, one of the host communities of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa Ibom State, over alleged annexation and demolition of properties on a parcel of land by authorities of the institution has generated tension that could snowball into a full blown war, if not arrested in earnest, LEADERSHIP gathered yesterday.
Angry community leaders, who called out the youths for a peaceful demonstration over alleged encroachment on the community lands, warned the university to “stop forthwith the penchant to illegally acquire lands belonging to the village.”
Speaking against the backdrop of fresh destruction of property in parts of the village, allegedly carried out by the university on Monday night, the protesters lamented that “UNIUYO has constantly gone outside its boundaries to amass our lands.”
The chairman of the Village Council, Comrade Morris Bassey; the secretary, Elder Domingo Bassey Etim and the president of the Youth Council of Ekpri Nsukara, Otuekong Emem Asikpo, who spoke separately, noted that “UNIUYO has not reciprocated our friendly gestures as one of its host communities.”
They recalled that under the cover of darkness, the management of the institution dispatched its bulldozer to carry out wanton destruction of people’s properties in the village recently.
“We are distressed that the authority of the University of Uyo has not respected the clearly demarcated boundaries with Ekpri Nsukara Offot community. We say so based on the ugly experiences with the institution for some years now.
“A case at hand is that on Monday, April 17, 2023 at about 11pm, the university moved in to trespass on our land. The authority sent Bulldozer into the adjoining lands which belonged to our community to destroy fences and houses under construction, which are owned by individuals.
“We have approached the University through the Chief Security Officer (CSO) Mr. Inyang Asuquo, to enquire about the latest action but they disclaimed the action as not coming from the institution. However, credible intelligence has it that the Bulldozer used in the operation emanated from the institution and also exited through the main campus. We see such action as a deliberate attempt by the University to forcefully acquire our land despite the large acreage of land already voluntarily conceded to the institution.
“We recall a particular instance in 2020 where similar actions of encroachments were carried out and properties belonging to several persons were destroyed by the University.
These despicable activities by the University of Uyo prompted our community to institute a Court action in suit no. HU/337/2015 against them. Surprisingly, despite the pendency of the litigation in the Court, the University has not stopped its illegal acts of infringing on our lands,” Morris Bassey said.