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Investigation: Cocoa Allocation Committee allegedly hid over 500 hectares of cocoa plots

…as calls for committee’s sack heighten

By Our Reporter

An independent Verification Committee’s investigation has revealed that the Cocoa Allocation and Regeneration Committee led by Cosmas Ebori Nku hid well over 500 hectares of cocoa plots for its own selfish interest.

It was also alleged that the committee engaged in all sorts of malicious and underhanded schemes to short-change the landlord communities, government and the generality of Cross Riverians.

It will be recalled that Prof. Anthony Owan-Enoh, the Secretary to the State Government, inaugurated a 9-man Verification Committee led by Mr Asim Odu, his Special Assistant on Media, and saddled with the responsibility to investigate into purported infractions in the just-concluded cocoa allocation exercise that left landlord communities and the larger majority of Etung people livid.

It was revealed that during a joint meeting summoned at the behest of the Secretary to the State Government on 14th May, the Cocoa Allocation and Regeneration Committee admitted to hoarding over 400 hectares of cocoa plots, against the Verification Committee’s submission of over 500 hectares, a situation that lends credence to the massive protests that greeted the just-concluded cocoa allocation exercise.

The Cocoa Allocation and Regeneration Committee, at the meeting, it was also gathered, begged for mercy from the State Government for negating its ‘People First’ mantra in the entire cocoa allocation process, a situation the SSG expressed dismay and growled seriously against.

Prof. Owan-Enoh’s brush-off response to their plea indicates a serious danger to the Cocoa Allocation and Regeneration Committee members, as he clearly left their fate in the hands of Governor Bassey Otu, who is expected to return to the State any time soon.

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Another source close to the Cocoa Allocation Committee, who pleaded to be anonymous, said in the course of the exercise, about 6 blocks of cocoa plots were taken by each member of the Allocation Committee who are natives of the cocoa landlord communities, while 2 blocks were given to members drawn from other parts of the State.

The recent exposure has tripled the already existing acrimony and generated outcry from people of the Etung local government area, especially the Cocoa Landlord Communities, with a greater number requesting the sack of the Cocoa Allocation and Regeneration Committee.

Mr Zeal Ekure, leader of the Bendeghe-Ekiem (a landlord community) protest, said the 500 hectares of cocoa plots Nicodemusly cornered by the Cocoa Allocation and Regeneration Committee could have been able to empower over 500 youths in the area, however, regretting that the Committee’s insatiable quest for wealth blighted its realisation.

“We cannot continue to elect those with anti-people disposition to serve in a people-centred government. They will continue to work at cross purposes. The recent unsavoury revelations of the Committee’s dealings are a textbook example of what I’m saying. Government must wield the big stick in addressing the situation, no matter whose ox is gored.”

Eric-Obasi Ogar, from Etomi community in Etung LGA, lamented that “the Cocoa Allocation and Regeneration Committee’s stealthy decision to reserve over 500 hectares of cocoa plots for its selfish interests, amidst other underhanded dealings is a clear indication of greed and runs foul to the ‘People First’ agenda of the present administration.

“Government must not condone such infractions. Of course, I know Governor Bassey Otu’s no-nonsense approach to addressing such issues. I implore the State Government to relieve the Committee members of their appointments with immediate effect.”

Nse Egbe, Akare Nkom, Etta Eju, from Ajassor, Effraya and Agbokim communities, respectively, stated that the Committee’s dealings are damning for everyone and dampen the credibility of the present administration’s ‘People First’ agenda.

The public is watching to see what punitive measures Governor Otu would take to address the issues before him.

Editorial Team
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