70 years after, court ends Kasuk, Ikot Ansa land disputes

HRH, Chief Ededem Ayito, the Clan Head of Kasuk II Qua Clan 

For over 70 years, the People of Kasuk II Qua Clan, an agrarian community and Ikot Ansa clan all in Calabar Municipality Local Government Area of Cross River State have been at daggers drawn over an expanse of land at the Parliamentary extension boulevard causing tension and skirmishes and almost slided into communal clash.

Fearless Reports learned that if not for the maturity of the Chief Ededem Ayito, the Clan Head of Kasuk II Qua Clan and the constant intervention by the Police a lot of lives would have been lost over time.

According to Ntoe Ededem Ayito, "there has been a long standing battle between Kasuk II Qua Clan and another community in Calabar Municipality known as Ikot Ansa.. We got judgment from the High Court in Cross River and the court declared damages to the tune of N100, 000,000 in our favour.

“The matter is a long standing matter because since I am a clan head I know how to maintain peace in my domain because what government needs is peace that can bring growth and development and when I exhausted all the avenues I knew we had to use legal measures to subdue pressures that would come to the community and we have done so.

“The recent experience started since 2011 but the land dispute has been there for more than 70 years. There has been a battle between my people and my neighboring community Ikot Ansa, they were claiming our swamp lands and our adjoining lands which has been in our possession right from inception, that the army gave them a part of it as a deed of release and they now used that deed of release to trespass and sell part of our properties, and even went ahead to excavate our red soil and destroy our raffia palms which a lot of cases were being held".

He added that “As far back as 1950, there were a lot of trespassers in kasuk communal swamp lands, which is now known as (name of community), so those people that encroached into our communal swamp land, we took them to court and the case was decided in the customary court in 1950 by my predecessors, I was not even born by then .

“The judgment is there, it speaks for itself, the case was also decided in the appeal court in 1951 and 1952 all in our favour  that they are trespassers that judgment even gave an order to the Police to guard against people trespassing into our communal swamp land but now the present generation just saw things, they don't want to learn, they don't want to know, they just want to take things by force that is why a lot of people forcefully claim what does not belong to them".

They aee even tenant community

Ayito said, “In the suit of 1949 that we had with the old town which is Obutong, it was clearly written there boldly that Ikot Ishi and Ikot Ansa are customary tenants, they acquired their land from Kasuk community as a community. That is what it says and that is what it was from inception. So as the original owners of the land, why should tenants now come to fight us? We had an out of court settlement with Obutong Community with Essien Town Community and other communities in 1949; we had another one in 1955".

On his part, the Counsel to Kasuk II Qua Clan, Barr Ochardson Umoh said it was a long battle and they were glad the court finally gave judgement to bring peace in the troubled communities which means a lot to both because development  was inevitable now.

His words: “I thank the media, your establishment has been very instrumental to the effort to achieve peace within this area, I only have to thank your establishment because you have followed this case.

"If this was what other newspaper houses have been doing, maybe most of the inter communal fracas, wars that we have experienced in this country, maybe some of them would have been avoided because I do recall that your establishment was always with clear pictures of events of damages of things that were going on there before this judgment was delivered, and that has helped.

“The area along Parliamentary road extension just behind where we have the Eburutu Army Barracks. I know of a fact that your paper has done many publications to highlight the tension that has built between these two communities over the dispute as to who owns the area of land lying on the right hand side of the Parliamentary Extension as you are coming g from Efiete junction.

“The matter had to go to court because the two parties were insisting that they own it. It has been in court for quite some time now but on the 28th of Feb. 2019, the court delivered its judgment in which the court agreed with us that the Ikot Ansa community, the defendants in the matter in suit number HC242/2017 that the defendants Ikot Ansa Community actually trespassed into the area of land in issue the court agreed with us and made the declaration whereby they nullified all leases, grants, sales and in fact any dealing whatever that the defendant, the people of Ikot Ansa had with people over this area of land.

“Everything they did there has been nullified by the court. The court did not only stop them, it awarded damages of N100,000,000 against Ikot Ansa in favor of the Kasuk Community as damages. You have to understand that before the Kasuk Community went to court, Ikot Ansa had trespassed into this place and they were excavating red earth from a particular part of the land in dispute.

"We had told the court how much they were making a day and the number of years, I think this was what informed the court because they did not deny it that they were excavating and selling the sand even while the case was on going in court.

"We have pictures, we have tried to restrain them with interlocutory injunction as they were excavating even while this case was on, and we have pictures. If you look at the amount of money they have made, they have made more than N100, 000,000 or even N200,000,000 so for the court to award N100,000,000 damages, you can say it’s fair but it is still not up to the value of what they have been doing there.

Ikot Ansa keep mum over recent judgement

When contacted, the Paramount Ruler of Calabar Municipality, HRM Ndidem Patrick Inok Oqua Agbor who Ikot Ansa is under refused to make any comment on the matter.

The Monarch was visibly angry and asked this reporter to leave his compound as he had nothing to say to him concerning the matter.
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