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Bekatako, Lipenja Dispute Land 

By Bouddih Adams
— A land dispute between Lipenja and Bekatako villages in Ekondo Titi Sub-division of Ndian Division, Southwest Region, has degenerated into clashes between the two villages.

Lipenja villagers recently blocked the only road to Bekatako, rendering movement into or out of the Bekatako impossible. Bekatako villagers had reportedly arrested a Lipenja woman and her children over the disputed parcel of land.

According to Bekatako villagers, they are the original land lords of the area. They said they gave the Lipenja people of Barombi tribe the land, where they are, to settle on. They argued that, as land lords, they share boundaries only with Balongo-Ba-Nanga who are also land lords but from the Barombi tribe.

They said after settling in the area for a long time, the Lipenja people not only started selling the land, but crossed the Mar River over to a locality called Ngwengi and have also started selling land. Enraged, they said, they decided to go out and map out their land and were attacked by the Lipenja people.

They said they reported the matter to the Divisional Officer, DO of Ekondi Titi, Edwin Nkenya Ngwana. But that when the Head of the Traditional Council, Sam Bakumba, attended a meeting convened by the DO of Ekondo Titi, he was arrested and detained.

They accuse the DO of siding with the Lipenja-Barombi people, remarking that, when DO Ngwana convened another crisis meeting on Monday, April 2, and the Regent of Bekatako, Darius Ngerime, attended it as representative of their village, the DO also arrested and detained him.

They said they suspect the under-hand of Government Minister, Dr. Dion Ngute, in the attempt by his Barombi tribesmen of Lipenja to seize Bafaka land and exploit or sell it. They said they believe that their regent chief and Traditional Council Head were arrested and detained in order to intimidate them to let go the land.

In a telephone interview with the DO, April 6, he said that some three weeks earlier, the Bekatako villagers “kidnapped” a Lipenja woman and her children. The woman and her children were, however, later released. On March 31, the DO continued, the Lipenja people retaliated by blocking the only access road to Bekatako.

Tension mounted and the DO was alerted and he went with the forces of law and order and removed the road block, after inviting the chiefs of both villages and two of the notables to a meeting on the matter. Following the discussion and upon agreement that the Land Consultative Board should look into the matter, the DO passed an injunction on the disputed land on Monday, April 2.

“The injunction embargoes people from working on the parcel of land until the Land Consultative Board makes a decision,” the DO told The Post. He revealed that he and the chiefs met again on Wednesday, April 4, and agreed that both parties should not work on the land until the verdict of the Land Consultative Board is delivered.

The DO said he arrested and detained Darius Ngerime because he was reported to be the mastermind of the kidnap of the Lipenja villagers. “Nevertheless, there is total calm now as we await the decision of the Land Consultative Board,” Ngwana told The Post on Saturday, April 7.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01334

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