Tension has been rife in Ediene Clan over a letter by the Catholic Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese, Most Rev Camillus Umoh, against the posting of a qualified indigene of the area,for the first time, as principal of St. Marys Science College, Ediene in Abak Local Government by the state government.
The posting of an Ediene indigene, in a letter dated January 6, 2022, for the first time to the College as the principal was received with happiness and jubilation by both the chiefs and the people.
But regrettably, the letter of January 10, 2022 with the caption RE: Unprovoked Breach of Agreement and Due Process In the Appointment of Principal for St Marys Senior Science College, Abak: An Appeal For Intervention, Reversal and right Protocol, by the Catholic Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese, addressed to the state governor has raised high tension amongst the people.
Ediene Clan Council of Chiefs, having engaged the services of a legal firm, Anietuk and Associates, executed a reply letter dated January 21, 2022 and addressed to the state governor on“Irregular Interference with the posting of Principals to St. Marys Senior Science College, Abak: A Request for your Intervention to evade any breakdown of law and Order, has generated more tension in the area ever since.
The Ediene people, in their letter, raised 13 points against the position of the Catholic Bishop to drive home their demand for the situation at hand with a view to restoring normalcy and peace in the area.
The people in their letter alleged gross misrepresentations of facts in the letter written by the Catholic Bishop and served on the state governor, pointing out that the College, which was established in 1986 with the facilities of the defunct of St Mary’s Teachers Training College (T.T.C), Ediene, was first administered by the late Okonna Udom Itanga, who was a member of Methodist Church.
The letter stated that St Marys Senior Science College is a state government-owned secondary school which the employees are paid by the Akwa Ibom government.
The 13-point letter that was also served on the state governor, noted that the first indigenous principal that was posted to the school is a staff on the employ of the state government with requisite qualification, experience and capacity to man the school.
It explained that the appointment of principals to the College should not be on denominational basis, but on merit, pointing out that the host Ediene Community was not aware of any existing agreement reached between the Catholic Diocese of Ikot Ekpene and the state government on the appointment of principals to the school and was not part of any such agreement if at all there was an agreement.
That Ediene community is a major stakeholder in the school project and should be involved and carried along in decisions affecting the school, explaining further that the land on which the school situates was never sold to the Catholic community.Rather, it was only a lease transaction whereby Catholic was to pay the sum of 30 pounds per year as rent.
The statement added that upon the taking over of the school by the Akwa Ibom Government in 1986, the lease abated and the Catholic Diocese ceased from making any payment to Ediene Community since then till date.
The lease agreement, the people said, was only for small portion of land for the establishment of the school, remarking that it was only when the Government took over and came up with the plans to expand the college that the community donated additional 61 acres of land with compensation paid and not Catholic Community.
They recalled that when a land conflict erupted between the host community and the school authority, which was adjudicated in favour of the College at the Abak High Court,the matter was stoutly defended by an indigene of Ediene Clan in the person of Obong Sunday Akpan Umoh and not the Catholic Church.
The letter, among other issues, posited that from the inception of the College, all the principals that have served in the school were non-indigenes of Abak Local Government Area, noting with regret the many ripples that the posting of an indigene of Ediene and Abak, for the first time, has raised in the land.