A piece of land belonging to the Nigerian Navy and meant for the construction of a Navy Hotel has become a cause of friction between the Navy and Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State.
The land which originally housed the Navy officers mess was being prepared for construction when the state government reportedly ordered the Navy to withdraw from site, insisting that the land belonged to the state government.
The government further warned the navy not to proceed with the building and ordered the land to be cordoned.
But the Navy in immediate response deployed heavily armed personnel to the area to guard the land against intruders, including government officials.
Commissioner for information in the state, Comrade Asu Okang in reaction to the development maintained that the Navy had no legal right to the land any longer.
“The navy have rampantly commandeered many lands in parts of Calabar to erect their facilities. 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 onetime military administrator of the state, Navy Captain Ibim Princewill, 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 has 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.
“In any case, it is very doubtful that they have Certificate of Occupancy for this land in question. But even if they have, the constitution grants the governor power over all lands. He has the power to revoke any C of O” Okang said.
Consequently, a source at the Navy headquarters who pleaded that his name not be mentioned said “It is not true that they have drawn any battle line with the Cross River State government.
“We have a good working relationship with the state government. We have established many of our facilities in Calabar, including schools, War College, high class reference hospital, etc.
“That there are many armed Naval personnel is because we have our top Naval officers coming to inspect some facilities” the source stated.