From ANIEKAN ANIEKAN, Calabar:
A Calabar High Court presided over by Justice Imelda Etape has awarded 100 million naira damages against the Paramount Ruler of Calabar Municipality, HRH Patrick Inok Oqua and three others for trespass.
The judge further granted a perpetual injunction restraining him from further trespassing in a communal land described as Etab Ayip Kasuk situate along M.C.C. Road and cut through by the Marian (NdidemUsangIso) Road Extension/Boulevard and described further in Survey Plan Nos. EEA/CS/CR/788/2011.
The judgment follows a 70 year old dispute between HRH. (Ntoe) EDEDEM OKON AYITO who is the CLAIMANT (for himself, EtabAyip Village and on behalf of the entire KasukQua Clan 11, Calabar) and HRM. PATRICK INOK OQUA, NTUFAM EYO ISO and NTUFAM FRANCIS OKON EFFIONG (for themselves and on behalf of the entire Ikot Ansa Community (Nkonib) of Calabar) as defendants.
Giving judgment in Suit No. HC/242/2017, Justice Etape said “That the Defendants’ acts of crossing over from beyond the area of land released to them by a Deed of Release dated 29th September, 2006 as a shown in the Survey Plan No. CR/C.928 into the Claimant’s communal swamp known as Etab Ayip Kasuk situate along M.C.C. Road and cut through by the Marian (Ndidem Usang Iso) Road Extension/Boulevard and described further in Survey Plan Nos. EEA/CS/CR/788/2011 superseded by Plan number IICC/AF/CR/4/2017/29 consisting of approximately 78 hectares and Plan No. EEA/CS/CR/4619/2012 consisting of 240.291 hectares and the adjoining dry land and dealing with same without the consent of the Claimant’s Community constitutes an act of trespass.
“That all the activities and dealings of the Defendants affecting the Claimant’s communal swap known as Etap Ayip Kasuk covered by Survey plan No. EEA/CS/CR/788/2011 supersede by Plan No. IICC/AF/CR/4/2017/29 consisting of 78 hectares and plan No. EEA/CS/CR/4619/2012 consisting of 240.291 hectares and the adjoining dry land situate along M.C.C. Road and cut through by the Marian (Ndidem Usang Iso) Road Extension/Boulevard which is beyond and outside the area of land covered by the Deed of Release dated 29th September, 2006 as shown in survey Plan No. CR/C.928 are illegal.
“That the sum of One Hundred Million Naira only (100,000,000.00) is awarded against the Defendants being general damages for trespass by the Defendants into Claimant’s land aforesaid.
“That I make an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants either by themselves, privies, agents or assigns from continuing to cross over beyond the area of land covered by the Deed of Release dated 29th September, 2006”, the judge said.
Reacting to the judgment, Chief Ededem Ayito, the Clan Head of Kasuk II Qua said the defendants encroached on their land as far back as 1950 and the judgment subsists and speaks for itself.
“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.
“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”, he said.
On his part, HRM Ndidem Patrick Inok Oqua Agbor, the Paramount Ruler of Calabar Municipality declined to comment on the matter.