by Nicholas Kalu
The chairman of a committee set up by the Cross River State government to acquire 9000 hectare of land across the state, Mr. Dane Osim-Asu, has dispelled speculations that the project was intended for the Federal Government’s RUGA project.
Osim-Asu, chairman of the committee for the central senatorial district, who was summoned to appear before the State House of Assembly, explained that the state Government plans to use the proposed 9000 hectares for agriculture in line with the World Bank’s APPEAL project whose target beneficiaries would be women and youths.
The state government’s arbitrary decision to set up committees to acquire the land without adequate explanation had created a feeling of apprehension in the state, especially in the wake of the RUGA controversy.
The situation had led to the House suspending the committees’ activities of the committee and demanding they appear before it to explain.
The Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Eteng Jonah Williams, said the State Assembly will not support the use of Cross River Land for RUGA.
The lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction with the manner the Land Acquisition Committees had been operating without proper information to the House, which according to them had led to public outcry as Cross Riverians expressed feared that the State Government was planning to use the proposed land for RUGA.
Members, while commending the State Government’s efforts in the Agricultural sector, observed that the State Executive council was yet to be constituted and emphasized the need for due process to be followed in the acquisition of land.
They noted that most of the communal clashes across the State were because of land.
The members pointed out that there were several plots of land across the state already acquired by past state governments and advised the committees to explore the possibility of using these for the proposed agricultural projects.
The House adopted a resolution that the Land Acquisition Committees should continue with the peaceful process of acquisition of Land for Agriculture but not for RUGA, while looking for any other fallow land earlier acquired by Government for use.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Lands, Mrs. Mary Omaji, said they had attached professional officers to each of the Committees.
She said that negotiations have begun and assured that no community will be forced to donate her land to the project.