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Crisis brews in C’River cocoa communities over govt’s inability to pay royalty

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

There is palpable tension in cocoa communities of Abia, Agbokim Waterfalls, Ajassor Ekiem, Bendeghe Ekiem, Effraya Ekiem, Ekimaya, Ekugatai and Etomi in Etung local government area of Cross River state over inability of the state government to pay years of royalties to landslords.

This has resulted in gun-weilding young men, believed to be mostly cultist, threatening government officials, paramount ruler, clan heads and all those they accused of frolicking with the state government to deny the people their inheritances.

In a chat with Journalists in Calabar, Wednesday, the paramount ruler of Etung, HRM Ntue-Atue Dr Emmanuel Ojong, said gunmen threatened to kill him together with some of his cabinet members for a crime he has not committed.

Dr Ojong said he was surprised when the Chairman of the council area, Comrade John Etuk, caused an announcement to be made on radio over a purportedly suspension of paramount ruler of Etung.

The Royal father appealed to the state government to pay the said royalties to cocoa landlord communities so as to stop breakdown of law and order in the tension-soaked communities.

“My life is under threat. Few days ago, they even attacked the special Adviser to Gov Ayade on Cocoa Development and would have killed the young man for nothing. I hereby appeal to our governor to pay these royalties so that peace could return to Etung.

“They are accusing and threatening us for nothing as government has not released the fund. With all good conscience, I make bold to say that I have not collected a dime from anybody,” he stated.

On his purported suspension by the council chairman, the paramount ruler said nothing in the Cross River state traditional rulers council edith gives powers to local government chairmen to suspend a sitting paramount ruler.

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