- 30 killed, 15,000 displaced in interstate border crisis since April 2018
By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The people of Isu clan in Arochukwu local government of Abia State have cried out to the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu over the incessant attacks by the neighbouring Utuma community of Cross River State, saying that Abia government had waited too long to come to their aid since the periodic attacks started in 2014.
Spokesman of the Isu people, Mazi Donatus Okorie told journalists in Umuahia that they had decided to once again to further send an S.O.S to the state governor to urgently save the situation following a latest attack which occurred on Friday, February 15, 2019 by people from Utuma in Biase local government of Cross River State.
According to him, the latest attack resulted to “dastardly murder of our illustrious son, Hon. Okoro Ukwaa, who was waylaid and butchered by Utuma militants on his way to his farm”, adding that “our neighbours are still very militant, attacking us at will”.
He said that since April 2018 when the border crisis erupted, no fewer than 30 people from Isu had been killed while over 15, 000 persons were displaced and forced to flee to neighbouring communities for refuge. He named the affected Isu communities to include Iho, Aba Isu, Amachi, Ndiugbo and Alioso.
“What has befallen Isu clan is better imagined than experienced. Since the crisis erupted in April 2018 no fewer than 30 people have been killed and over 15,000 rendered homeless while properties worth millions of naira have been destroyed,” he lamented.
Spokesman of the Abia State police command, Geoffrey Ogbonna said that though police were aware of the interstate border crisis they were yet to receive report on the latest killing in Isu. Both police and army were said to have intervened at the early stage of the crisis but were said to have been prevented from accessing the area as Utuma people felled a huge tree and blocked the road.
Mazi Okorie, who is a former secretary to the Abia state government (SSG) said that it was regrettable that Isu people who are part and parcel of Abia state had been left to their own fate as “our own government has not taken any concrete steps to stop the loss of lives and destruction of properties in Isu”.
He said that if the government of Abia state had made concrete efforts to protect its people in Isu the incessant attacks by Utuma people would have stopped and further loss of lives and destruction of properties averted.
The community leader noted that the deputy governor, Ude Oko Chukwu, whose office oversees boundary issues, gave the impression that he was going to find solution to the crisis but failed to achieve anything.
Governor Ikpeazu on his part is said to have failed to take urgent steps to save the Isu people despite several representations by community leaders and traditional rulers.
Mazi Okorie stated that if Governor Ikpeazu had made concrete peace move and reached out to his Cross River counterpart, Governor Ben Ayade , a lasting solution could have been found since Abia and Cross River are PDP controlled states.
In his remarks an Isu man based in the United States of America, Mr. Tony Kalu said that he personally raised the issue with Governor Ikpeazu at a private audience when he visited Washington DC last year and addressed Abia people there.
“I told him (Ikpeazu) that Isu is under attack. He told me he would take action but nothing has been done,” he lamented.