At least 17 local communities of Eastern Obolo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have vowed to resist the state government over its alleged redesigning of the state map which completely denies them the host status of more than 56 oil wells situated in their lands and waters.
At a press conference held on Saturday evening by the apex socio-cultural and political organization of the Eastern Obolo people, called Ilima Obolo, held in their common town hall, President and General Secretary, Uye-awaji Zephenaih and Dr Amah Williams, respectively said the purported alteration and adjustment of the original Akwa Ibom State map is a vain imagination of both the state legislature and executive that will never be allowed to hold sway.
They alleged that the state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, who hails from Onna LGA of the state is the finger behind the state House of Assembly’s speedy move to redraw the map in order to also make Mkpat Enin, Ikot Abasi as well as his own Onna, littoral LGAs with access to the Atlantic Ocean where these wells are situated.
President Muhammadu Buhari finally assented to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) a few weeks ago. The Bill, now a law, allows oil-bearing communities in Nigeria to benefit from 3% oil derivations.
On 16 September 2021, a member of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly representing Eket State constituency sponsored a motion, which made the assembly direct the state surveyor-general to urgently redraw a ‘generally accepted’ map of the state.
The assembly also ordered that all other enactments relating to any old maps must be jettisoned and abrogated, urging the state governor to cause the new map so drawn by the state surveyor-general to gazette it immediately as an official map of the state.
Williams who addressed the press on behalf of the group said “The purported readjustment of the boundaries of Eastern Obolo and Ibeno LGAs which hitherto were the only two that had access to the Atlantic Ocean is a pointer and a further confirmation of the grand plot towards the extinction of their minority people in the state.”
He denied that they were never consulted by the state government on the matter for their own inputs.
He alleged that: “the sinister move by the state is to enable Onna, Mkpat Enin and Ikot Abasi to have littoral status with access to oil wells located offshores of Eastern Obolo so as to also draw from the 3% allocated to oil-bearing communities under PIB and nothing more pretentious.”
Ilima Obolo stressed that the purported re-mapping is illegal and unconstitutional as well as a calculated land grabbing strategy.
They also stressed that it was a flagrant contravention of section 8 sub-section 4 of the 1999 constitution (as amended), adding such an attempt to deny them is null, void, and of no effect because they are ready to resist it using all legal means.
They called on the state governor to disregard what they described as unpopular and anti-people resolution of the state assembly and that he should stop further tampering with the state map for selfish reasons.
Cautioning the state government against further marginalising and oppressing them, they warned that if the government went ahead with the doctored map, they “shall take necessary actions within the ambit of the law to preserve our territorial boundaries from balkanization.