Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
Ebonyi state government yesterday accused the federal government of not displaying enough sincerity in ensuring that problems at border areas in Nigeria, not only in Ebonyi State, were amicably resolved.
Briefing newsmen in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state Commissioner for Border Peace and Internal Security, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala described the National Boundary Commission, NBC, as a toothless bulldog following its inability to demarcate the disputed land between the people of Igbeagu in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and Ukele community in Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State since the outbreak of the crisis several years ago.
The commissioner announced that Governor David Umahi would visit the Igbeagu community today to ascertain the level of destruction from the recent uprising in the area.
The boundary dispute, THISDAY gathered, started in 2003 and had claimed several lives, rendered over 7000 people homeless and numerous property destroyed in Igbeagu community in Ebonyi State.
He noted that the Commission had visited both Ebonyi and Cross River states at the heat of the crisis and even invited the affected communities for dialogue in Abuja, but that it was yet to demarcate the troubled area.
Ugbala argued that if the NBC and the Federal government had demarcated the disputed land as at when due, then there wouldn’t have been unwarranted records of deaths and destruction of properties on both sides of the divide.
“Sometimes we doubt the sincerity of the federal government in ensuring that the problems in border areas, not only in Ebonyi state, are resolved. Most times we look at the NBC particularly as a toothless bulldog because a lot of things had happened in that area even before the inception of this administration.
“I can’t remember a single place they have taken a definite decision but because it’s not the duty of the Ebonyi State government to determine the boundary between it and Cross River and so we will continue to look up to them. We have been called for several meetings in Abuja and we had always attended because Ebonyi State government is disposed to peace; and we said demarcate the boundary because there’s no land that is more important than the life of the people.
“We are asking the media to tell the federal government and National Boundary Commission to come and do their job, because what they always come to do is Urban Carol; once in the month where the crisis comes up, they will come and visit, Ugbala said.
The Commissioner, who stated that the Governor received news of the killings in the area with shock and unhappiness, called on the Police and Army to improve on their deployment strategies so as to immediately nip the crisis in the bud.
He announced that all stakeholders, including the State Auditor- General, the State Director of Fadama, Councilors and other elected personalities from Igbeagu community were suspended indefinitely until there was peace in the area.