By Michael Olugbode
Stakeholders in Cross River and Ebonyi states on Tuesday came together at a round table to embrace peace and work towards finding lasting solution to land disputes spanning a century.
The round table which was at the instance of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) aimed at bringing peace to the area and subsequently creating an atmosphere for the National Boundaries Commission to demarcate the boundaries between the warring communities.
At the round table were representatives from the warring communities in Abi, Obubra, Yala local government areas of Cross River State, and Abakaliki, Uzzi and Ikwo local government areas of Ebonyi State, with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, National Orientation Agency, National Emergency Management Agency, National Boundaries Commission and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution represented.
Also at the round table are representative from both Ebonyi and Cross River state governments, federal lawmakers representing the areas in dispute.
Speaking at the opening of the talks, the Director General of IPCR, Dr. Bakut Bakut said this meeting of stakeholders had become very necessary because of the recurrent nature of the conflict and its changing dynamics.
He lamented that: “The losses in both human and material ramifications, as a result of this age long conflict that spans over a 100 years in some cases, has been enormous, unimaginable and embarrassing.
“This is no longer acceptable, hence this very enlarged stakeholders meeting cutting across government officials, traditional rulers, town union/opinion leaders, women leaders, youth leaders, security agencies and other critical agencies connected with finding solutions to such a hydra headed conflict.”
He said: “Disagreements on issues are bound to exist where two or more people are involved. Conflicts are therefore inevitable amongst human beings, but the most important thing there is for it not to be violent, while strategic steps are taken to resolve such disagreements.”
Bakut said: “The conflict between these communities in these local governments have become so perennial and catastrophic, such that we have to o take a more strategic and positive position on their resolution.
In a keynote address, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who was represented by one of the directors in his office, Mrs. Veronica Agugu, said: “Despite all the issues, government at all levels have intervened in the crisis with a view to restoring lasting peace to these two states. It is noteworthy to mention that, this two state governments have established a pact to maintain peace between the warring communities.”
He lamented that the prevalence of communal conflicts has serious implication for socio-economic development and national security of the country.
A communique is expected at the end of the roundtable which draws to a close on Wednesday.