Okon Bassey in Uyo
The federal government on TuesdayÂ called on the people of the boundary communities of Itu in Akwa Ibom and the Odukpani in Cross River State to shealth their swords and ensure peace reign among the two sisters state.
The Director General, National Boundary Commission (NBC), Dr Muhammad Ahmad, at a joint sensitisation/enlightenment campaign of the border communities stressed that the federal government was more determined to bring an end to the dispute which has lasted for more than 100 years now.
Ahmad at the meeting held at the bridge head between Itu and Odukpani Local Government Areas said the federal government plans a definite demarcation of the boundary as administrative limits for both states.
Between December last year and May this year, unconfirmed reports had it that more than 200 persons were feared killed in the protracted boundary skirmishes between the people of Oku Iboku in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State and the people of Ikot Offiong in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State.
The director general of NBC said the sensitisation forum was a follow up of similar meeting the acting President Yemi Osibanjo had with stakeholders from the two localities five months ago to midwife a final demarcation of boundary to prepare the people to embrace development.
According to him, with the East-West rail line from Lagos to Calabar proposed for the area, it has become expedient for peace to reign in the area if development must thrive.
â€œThe federal government is not happy with the killing and destruction of property. That was why in February this year, the acting president who is the Chairman of the NBC called for a meeting with stakeholders from these areas, and from the meeting, we agreed to first of all carry out a sensitisation of the communities and the actual demarcation of operational limit for both states,â€ he stated.
Ahmad called on states, traditional institutions and other stakeholders to take the message of peace and reconciliation to their communities to prepare ground for actual demarcation.
Speaking on behalf of the government and people of Akwa Ibom State, the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, lauded the federal government for its thoughtful intervention and insisted that Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, having been together since inception, had no reason to fight and kill each other.
â€œAkwa Ibom and Cross River States have been together since the creation of this country. I want to assure you that the problem will be sorted out once and for all. I have always said the issue of water and land is not a creation of man, but God, therefore these things do not belong to us, but God,â€ he said
Ekpo stressed that misunderstanding should not cause the people who have always known one another as brothers and sisters to shed blood.
â€œWhat could divide us cannot make us to fight each other. After all, when we die, its just a little portion, about six feet that would be allocated to us which may later be cultivated on. Land and water should not cause us to fight,â€ he declared
Also speaking, the Cross River State Government, through its Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, called for peace across the country and stated that the Cross River States Government is determined to ensure that peace reign in the state for progress and development to be achieved.
â€œThose who kill people innocently should repent; else the wrath of God would be upon them. What more can we give to Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State on his birthday than peace,â€ he said
Speaking on behalf of Itu traditional institution, the Paramount Ruler of Itu, Edidem Akpan Inyang, expressed optimism that the peace mission would be pursued to a logical conclusion.
â€œIt has been our desire as traditional rulers to see the cannage come to an end. Letâ€™s dialogue and work together to see the success of this exercise as initiated by the federal government,â€ he stated.
The Chairman, Odukpani Traditional Rulers council and Clan Head of Ekim/Uyi clan, Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State, Etinyin Ekeng Okon Nyong, said the people have lived together for over 100 years and had no justifiable reason to fight.
The Surveyor General of the Federation, Ebisintie Awudu, promised that the boundary demarcation would be done without bias.
He explained that the boundary demarcation is for administration purposes, to be demarcated on ground and with pillars for the state governments to know and plan for her people.