Nigeria: High Court Settles 70-Year-Old Land Dispute in Cross River

Calabar — The High Court in Calabar has settled a 70-year old land dispute involving Kasuk II Qua clan and Ikot Ansa clan communities in Calabar Municipality of Cross River State.

The Kasuk people had for 70 years been having land tussle with their Ikot Ansa neigbours.

In 2006, they had secured a judgment in their favour but the dispute continued. The Kasuk Qua clan through their clan head, Ntoe Ededem Ayito sued the Ikot Ansa community, the Paramount Ruler of the Quas, Ndidem Patrick Oqua Agbor and two others for trespass at the High Court presided over by Justice Imelda Etape.

Before now, precisely in 1950, there was lots of trespassers in Kasuk communal swamp lands and were taken to court and the case was decided in the customary court in 1950 in favour of the Kasuk people. The appeal court in 1951 and 1952 also decided the matter in favour of Kasuk, yet the trespass continued.

In recent judgment, Justice Etape declared that the claimant's (Kasuk community) claim succeeds and the "defendants' acts of crossing over from beyond the area of land released to them by a Deed of Release dated September 29, 2006 as a shown in the Survey Plan No. CR/C.928 into the claimant's communal swamp known as EtabAyipKasuk.

The land is 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 EEA/CS/CR/788/2011 superseded by Plan number IICC/AF/CR/4/2017/29 consisting of approximately 78 hectares and plan No. EEA/CS/CR/4619/2012 consisting of 240.291 hectares and the adjoining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 EtabAyipKasuk 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 (NdidemUsangIso) 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".

The court also awarded the sum of N100 million against the defendants being general damages for trespass and also restrained the defendants. "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 September 29, 2006".

Commenting on the judgment, Ntoe Ayito said there has been a long standing battle between Kasuk II Qua Clan and the Kot Ansa people and "the matter is a long standing matter because since I am a clan head I know how to maintain peace in my domain because what government needs is peace that can bring growth and development. When I exhausted all the avenues I knew we had to use legal measures to subdue pressures that would come to the community and we have done so.

"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".

Since the judgment the Ikot Ansa people and Ndidem Agbor have kept sealed lips over the matter but top sources in the community said they will appeal.

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