Judex Okoro, Calabar
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and the Nigerian Navy are at daggers drawn over an acre of land located in Calabar metropolis.
The navy recently pulled down their Officers’ Mess on the land to erect a hotel, but the state government is said to have warned the navy against it, insisting that the land belongs to the state government.
It was learnt that the government had advised the navy not to go on with the construction work as the land in contention is theirs and ordered that the land to be cordoned.
On getting wind of this, navy deployed armed personnel to guard against state government officials intruding or taking over the disputed land.
In his reaction, Commissioner for information, Asu Okang, said the navy have no legal right to the land and added that the navy have on several occasions taken over some acres of lands within Calabar metropolis and even beyond.
“The land on which the Nigerian Navy is attempting to erect their hotel does not belong to them. It belongs to Cross River State government. It was a one time military administrator of the state, Navy Captain Ibim Princewill, during his time who put up an official guest house for his personal guests.
“When he left, because he was a navy personnel, navy authorities began to occupy it and subsequently claimed it. But the laws are very clear about ownership of lands.
“In Calabar, the navy have taken over many lands for their facilities. Some of these, especially those that surround the governor’s official residence and his office, tend to have compromised the governor’s security.
“For the navy to deploy armed personnel to guard the land is uncalled for. It is overbearing. The state is not a banana republic that should be ruled with arms,” he said.
Expalining that even if navy have Certificate of Occupancy (CofC) for the land in question, the constitution grants the governor power over all lands as he has “the power to revoke any CofO.”
Sources at the navy headquarters, who craved anonymity, said it is not true that they have drawn any battle line with the Cross River State government.
“We have good working relationship with the state government. We have established many of our facilities in Calabar, including schools, war college and high class reference hospital. That there are many armed naval personnel is because we have our top naval officers coming to inspect some facilities.”