Okon Bassey in Uyo
The federal government is poised to put a demarcation mark to finally bring to rest years of communal vendetta between Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.
The Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, stated this during a sensitisation campaign visit to Mbiabo Clan in Itu Local Government Area on Saturday.
The Mbiabo Clan is one of the communities in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State that had been in boundary conflict with neighbouring Ikot Offiong village in Cross River State The deputy governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Lands and Town Planning, Mr. Ime Ekpo, said government would not rest on its oars until all neighbouring communities live in peace. He appealed to the people of Mbiabo Clan and other boundary communities to remain calm and eschew violence.
â€œThe boundary demarcation is not to divide communities that have been living together but for administrative purposes. You must cooperate with Government to bring peace and development to your communities,â€ Ekpo said.
The National Boundary Commission, he said, is about to begin the demarcation exercise which is intended to put to rest the age long boundary hostility between the people of Itu LGA, and Odukpani LGA in Cross River State.
Ekpo assured the people that government would remain firm and just in the demarcation exercise without ceding communities to one another.
The deputy governor, who is also the Chairman of the State Boundary Committee, warned youths not to allow themselves to be used by others to unleash mayhem that the boundary crisis was known for. He urged the women to advise their children to desist from acts capable of disrupting the peace during the conduct of the demarcation exercise.
Ekpo expressed government sympathy with the people of Mbaibo Clan who have been displaced from their traditional home for the last 18 years.
Also speaking, the representative of the Commission, Mr. Marcel Ukweni, Zonal Liaison Officer, South-South zone, said the purpose of NBC was to preach peace, as it is the only condition that allows for meaningful development.
Ukweni restated the commission mandate to ensure peace reigns in the boundary communities of the nation. He said, â€œBoundary is an imaginary line not to demarcate people, not a wall but a mark on the ground for the administrative convenience of both Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.â€
In his remark, the Chief Resident Surveyor of Akwa Ibom, Mr. Bala Ipalibo, said a boundary is not intended to restrict movement nor hinder means of livelihood. He urged the Mbiabo Clan to cooperate with government in the demarcation exercise as it would bring meaningful development to the area.
The Clan head of Mbiabo Clan, Etebom Etim Asuquo Okon, recalled that the 18-year-old feud has brought to them nothing but devastation. He said boundary feud has caused the community to flee their homes and has rendered them without any means of livelihood as their farmlands are not accessible anymore because anyone who goes there, is killed.
The Clan Head emphasised that Mbiabo is not part of Odukpani local government area in Cross River.
The Paramount Ruler of Itu, Edidem Edet Akpan Inyang, decried the loss of farmlands across the river which has brought untold hardship.
The monarch, however, wondered how the people are expected to meet their daily needs and that of their families when their farmlands have been taken away from them. The traditional ruler assured government of their support to end the age long feud between two communities.