UNESCO denies releasing money for Ekpe, Nyoro in Cross River


United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has denied donating money to any individual in Cross River state for any project.

Reacting to allegations that some persons in the Obong of Calabar Palace have diverted $320, 000 and N25m it budgeted for enlisting Ekpe and Nyoro cultural practices in Nigeria on the organisation’s World Heritage Map, the National Professional Officer for Culture, UNESCO Regional Office, Mr. Ifeanyi Ajaegbo, said there was no such thing.

During his visit to the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V, members of the Etuboms Traditional Rulers Council and other palace chiefs, Ajaegbo said no such amount has been released by UNESCO to any individual or project facilitators. He stated that such rumour was dangerous, as it was capable of igniting violence, and thereby endangering innocent people’s lives.

The UNESCO representative said: “I want the Obong, and the Etubom-in-Council to understand that it is not possible to give $5 to any individual, even Muhammadu Buhari. I came with the original document signed between UNESCO and Japanese Embassy in Nigeria, who are the funders of this project in what is called Fund-In-Trust.

“We were in Abeokuta for another convention when the office called us, and said a letter came in from Calabar, stating that there is a rumour or misinformation that Chief Ndem Bassey, and Stanley (Eyamba) received $320,000 in one instance, N25m second instance, and then slots for scholarship abroad from us. Please, I want it on record that UNESCO culture section does not give scholarship to anybody. We can’t even think of giving. We do not have the capacity to.”

He said the inscription of Ekpe and Nyoro is important to UNESCO to put more of cultural heritage artifacts from Nigeria on the map of the international body, even as he solicited the support of the entire Efik kingdom to aid the facilitators, so that the inventory process for the listing of Ekpe and Nyoro on the UNESCO world heritage map would succeed.

The Obong said he was happy with the representative’s visit. He explained that from the outset, credible people led by Ndem were chosen to drive the taking of inventory of the Ekpe and Nyoro, as Ekpe is not the property of anybody.

“They are the property of the Efiks, the Quas and the Efuts,” he said.

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