THE Nigerian Police Force (NPF), at the weekend, questioned several persons, including two village heads, over the illegal sale of artifacts from ancient sites in the Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State.
Sale of the artifacts is embargoed.
According to Vincent Etop, a member of the Ikom Council’s Tourism and Culture Committee, arrests were made in Etakor and Egononkor villages, following a tip-off that two monuments were sold to unidentified buyers for N585,000.
Etop, who is Sites and Attractions chairman, told The Guardian that Inspector Mike Anon Akong, Police Area Commander, had detained a number of villagers for questioning—but that “the matter is now being handled at the community level.”
In Etakor, Etop said, Chief Edey Etakon, the acting village head of the community, was suspected of masterminding the sale in connivance with Efork Ekonobe, Richard Ebi Nsuk, Christian Asaru and some other villagers.
The primary actors in Egononkor, Etop said, were Chief Ntan Esuku Ntan, the village head, and his brother, Innocent Egar Esuku.
But while the individuals might have been the key suspects, Etop noted, the money was widely distributed, with N185,000 going to Egononkor, N55,000 to loaders, N85,000 to the village chief and N50,000 to the youth wing.
The remaining money, Etop said, was given to Etakor village.
Speaking on telepne, the Council Chairman, Dr. Tony Ngban, condemned the sale of the priceless monuments in strong terms.
“The move to arrest the suspects came from those who opposed the transaction but I endorsed the arrest without hesitation,” he said.
The matter comes at a time when a team of experts from the Cross River State Tourism Bureau and Ikom Local Government Council is installing a satellite-based monitoring system to checkmate illegal sale of Akwanshi at the Cameroonian border.
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