The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands, Capt. Inionong Ekong,(Rtd.) has given the President of the Ekid People Union ( EPU) 14 days to unequivocally retract with apology a defamatory statement made against him with unreserved apology published in five Local Newspapers circulating in Uyo .
In a press release circulated to media houses in Uyo by his solicitors, Nwoko&Co, signed by Utibe Nwoko, Esq recalled a press statement by the President of the EPU over recent allegations of illegal mining activities in Eket where the Honourable Commissioner was maliciously maligned intentionally to disparage the Commissioner in the eyes of right thinking members of the public.
According to the petition, a section of the Press Statement read by the President of EPU had stated that ” For some time now,we have noted that a Chinese Company, RUITAI MINING LIMITED has been illegally mining ILMENITE on our land; located within the Stubbs Creek Forest Reserve ( Akoiyak Ekid), property of Ekid People without necessary authorization or consent of the community in breach of extant laws. This illegal mining, usually carried out in the night and it’s product transported out of the State in trucks clandestinely, is alleged to be actively encouraged by certain elements in Government.”
The statement issued by EPU went on to state that ” we also wish to most vehemently register our utmost displeasure and protest against the manner and style that some agents of Government especially in the Office of the Hon. Commissioner for Lands, have most ignominiously aided the Chinese Company, called RUITAI MINING LIMITED in their illegal mining of ILMENITE on our land”.
The statement had further added that ” the said Chinese Company,which was hurriedly packaged and registered on the 13th of September,2022 is allegedly to be surreptitiously managed by the Office of the Hon. Commissioner of Lands, with the apparent consent and perhaps the approval of the Akwa Ibom State Government “.
The Commissioner for Lands through his Counsel, Nwoko &Co in the release described the publication which was widely circulated as defamatory, scandalous, mischievous and devilish with a mission aimed at damaging the reputation of the Honourable Commissioner.
The statement further set the record straight from misinforming the unsuspecting public that the statement issued by the President of Ekid People Union was unfounded and an I’ll mannered press release and emphatically stating that the Ministry of Lands does not have any affiliation with the Chinese Company, RUITAI MINING LIMITED and never mandated or granted approval to the said Chinese Company to commence or carry out it’s mining business in the community.
It further clarified that the mining of bitumen, ilemnite or any other mineral is NOT under the Ministry of Lands or it’s supervision.
It further stated that the Chinese Company had acquired licence to carryout mining activities by the Federal Government and the State Government or any of its agencies have no power to restrain or impede the activities of the Chinese Company in view of the legal framework and the law describing the allegations as completely false and misguided.
The statement reiterates that the Ministry of Lands and the Akwa Ibom State Government are not involved in fraudulent connivance to sell the Stubbs Creek Forest to Private Companies as wildly asserted by the EPU President.
The petition also informed that failure to tender the unreserved apology in five Local Newspapers within 14 days will lead to the commencement of legacy and conventional means.