*demands reconstruction of all demolished structures in community
By, PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Use Atai Village in Offot Ukwa Clan of Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has raised an alarm over attempts by the University of Uyo to seize its ancestral lands.
The community which is one of the nine host communities of the University is ravaged by gully erosion and bereft of access roads and social amenities.
Narrating the ordeal of the community, the village head, Eteidung Christopher E. Ekeso said that UNIUYO has been seizing lands and ejecting indigenes from their homes over the years.
Eteidung Ekeso further claimed that the university went as far as destroying the village hall and ancient tomb of one their revered kings, the late Eteidung Ekerete Asuquo Akpan.
He said, “The portion of land that UNIUYO’s permanent site presently occupies is 95 per cent the rightful property of Use Atai Offot. Our bone of contention is that UNIUYO is bent on acquiring and annexing the portions of land reserved for our settlement and forcefully ejecting us out, thereby rendering us homeless.
“In 2016 UNIUYO officials, along with an army of workers, earthmoving equipment, armed policemen and soldiers invaded Use Atai village without any warning notice, destroyed and demolished our village hall, smashed into pieces the monumental structure erected in honour our Late Village Head, Eteidung Ekerete Asuquo Akpan.”
He said as a gazetted village, information on the original landmass of Use Atai is available in government records but wondered why UNIUYO acts flagrantly without recourse to negotiation and due process.
The Eteidung appealed to the Clan Head of Offot Ukwa and Paramount Ruler of Uyo, His Royal Majesty, Edidem Sylvanus Effiong Okon, and relevant authorities to save their generation from total extinction as there will be nowhere to run to after they have driven away.
Eteidung Ekeso further appealed that, “the UNIUYO authorities be called to order to refrain from annexing the remaining portions of our village land, so that we can be able to live together as university neighbours, since Use Atai Offot is a peace loving community and we do not take laws into our hands.”
He also demanded that UNIUYO reconstructs all demolished structures in the community.
Investigations however, confirmed that hundreds of indigenes still reside in the village but a lot of people have since been forced to migrate to other parts of Uyo due to the seizure of their ancestral land.
The management of the university could not be reached for a reaction as at press time as calls and text messages sent to the information officer of the institution, Mrs. Blossom Okorie were not responded to.