Ukwa Eburutu Council of Chiefs and Elders in Odukpani local government area of Cross River state has imposed sanctions on their neighbours, the Okpor people and their children in the community. The children, according to our investigations, were banned from attending primary and secondary schools in Ukwa Eburutu.
The Okpor people were also banned from selling and buying at Ukwa market amongst others restrictions. The ban, our investigations revealed, was imposed on October 27, 2016 and enforcement are being carried out on daily basis by over 100 young and energetic men of the area, many of whom are indigenes of Obukwo Esa.
The young men who embarked on this enforcement, we were informed, were instructed by the purported policy makers with authority to enforce the sanctions. The Okpor children were driven out from community school in Ukwa Ibom. One of them, Timothy Friday Eke-Ita an SS1 Student from Okpor village was dragged out from classroom.
He was beaten up and his school uniform torn by Ekpenyong Udowong Edim and indigene of Obukwa Esa, “Though this wild action against innocent school children was reported to the school authority, no action was taken. Rather the Principal of the school, Mr Nkobi Akpan Akpan who is a relation of Obukwa Esa village also took part in driving out Okpor children from the secondary school” the Secretary, Okpor village Council A. B. Asuquo told our correspondent.
He further said since October 27 till date, Okpor children have been deprived of their rights to education by the said group of people who always block the road leading to secondary school from Okpor while the principal ensures that no Okpor student enters the classroom.
“They do this because the secondary school and market are located in their area where you have to pass through Etikhe Ukim clan (Where Obukwa Esa belongs) before you get to the secondary school or Ukwa Market”, Asukwo narrated.
It would be recalled that the Okpor village in Ukwa Ibom Clan and Obukwo Esa village in Etikhe Ukim clan all in Ukwa Eburutu had a civil suit No HC/323/2012 filled by Obukwo Esa village against Okpor village which has now reached an advanced stage of hearing and awaiting determination.
In a letter to the Commissioner of Education in the state, dated November 14th 2016 titled ‘Unlawful imposition of arbitrary sanctions against Okpor village in Ukwa Ibom clan by some Chiefs, Elders Etc of Ukwa Eburutu in Odukpani local government area of cross river state’ the Okpor people said “When it became obvious that the incessant premeditated and malicious prosecutions of Okpor people by the Police, procured by Obukwo Esa people, constituted infractions of their fundamental and constitutional rights, Okpor people went to court and applied for enforcement of their fundamental human rights.
Notably HC/114/2014 and HC/82/2014 respectively which judgments were delivered in favour of Okpor people on 29th October 2014 and 3rd November 2014. Before now, the land dispute between the two communities escalated to a total war which resulted in attack on Okpor people and malicious destruction of crops and houses.
Interestingly, neighbouring communities in Biase local government area, Utuma and Ufut villages on hearing about the imposition of the sanctions waged into the matter. The Deputy Commissioner of Police, State CID invited the warring communities in a meeting that was held in his office on Thursday 3rd November 2016 and he asked imposition of the arbitrary sanctions to be lifted but nothing has been done.