By Tony Nyong
UYOâ€”Hundreds of angry and homeless people from four villages in Itu local government area of Akwa Ibom State yesterday defied early morning rains to protest non-payment of compensation on their demolished private and business buildings along the Calabar â€“ Itu High way by the state government.
Expressing their anger, the villagers said it was embarrassing that they had been strangled byÂ government for several months by the non-payment ofÂ compensation to them as agreed over the demolition and destruction of the houses and farm cropsÂ years after they were persuaded to abandon their homes and business premises to allow government carry on with its projects.
Chanting solidarity songs, the people, drawn from Odiok, Afaha, Akon and Obong Itam villages, marched along the newly constructed Calabar-Itu high way for kilometres calling on the state governor, Chief GodswillÂ Akpabio, to intervene.
Some of he placards which read, â€œWe are homeless since 2007â€; â€œour families are sufferingâ€; â€œwe are poor peopleâ€, the villagers wondered ifÂ the state government had promised and failed since every effort to persuade officials to pay them the money had failed.
â€œWe are protesting because government has refused to pay us our compensation. In 2007, our houses and business premises were demolished. We are suffering and homeless, nothing is moving fineâ€, a spokesman for the villagers, Mr. Bernard Ekpenyong, from Ekim Itam told Vanguard.
â€œWe want the governor to come and see the suffering of the masses and save us from this embarrassing situation. We have sent our complaint to the appropriate quarters, including the Commissioner of Police and the State Security Service (SSS)
â€œSix villages were involved but two were singled out and paid. We are not fighting this government. The governor may not be aware of the situation now because he had promised to pay us. People are sitting on this moneyâ€, the villagers alleged.
The spokesman for the villagers accused the state Commissioner for Works, Mr. Don Etim, and the consultant for being responsible for the non-payment of the compensation.
â€œThe problem is between the Commissioner for Works and the consultant. We are strongly convinced that people are sitting on our money. Even if the money is put in fixed deposit, it must have earned enough interest now. Let it be released becauseâ€™ we are suffering,â€ he pleaded