By Aplefe Ojong
Two days ago, there has been rumors and apprehension among some members of the Cross River public on the possible renewed hostilities between the Adadama people of Abi Local Government of Cross River state, and the Nkwo people of Ebonyi state.
On Sunday, January 4, 2015, the apprehension and rumors became so strong that some avid readers of CrossRiverWatch called severally to confirm the veracity or otherwise of the rumors as they appeared on the social media.
To ascertain the true position of things, CrossRiverWatch sent a reporter to the boundary community who confirmed that there were no renewed hostilities as been insinuated.
We also spoke with the member representing Abi in the Cross River State House of Assembly, Hon. John Gaul on the issue.
Hon. Gaul succinctly stated that from the side of Adadama and Abi people, the rumor was not true because there were no hostilities or sign of any presently, but that they will always be some elements of truth in any rumors, bearing in mind that they do not know what the other side is planning.
He also spoke on the security measures on ground to avert any break down of law and order, and the Joint Peace Committee set up by the Governments of Cross River State and Ebonyi State, among others.
It is being rumored that there is renewed hostilities between the people of Adadama of Abi in Cross River State and the Nkwo people of Ebonyi state. Do these rumors have any substance?
It is true that the two communities have been having unresolved boundary matters, but at present there has not been any reported case of renewed hostility between the communities that is known to me. Each year around this time there is always renewed apprehensions because it is normal at this period of dry season that hostilities usually break out between them, as the access the two communities have linking them is usually swampy during the rainy season. It is true that the attack on Adadama last year came during this season, so they could be possible apprehensions among some people this time, but presently we have nothing on ground to authenticate the rumors. I was at Adadama and I came back yesterday (Saturday), and we have not had any security alert as we have mobile police men and other security agents stationed at our boundary lines. We have not had any attack this year. But since we are not on the other side, we won’t know what the other side is planning.
Again, on our side, nobody is interested in fighting. Our people are more interested in the peace process. We will be meeting with the Cross River State Deputy Governor, Efiok Cobham this week to arrange for a joint peace process between Cross River and Ebonyi. That is all we know. And then we are talking about demarcation now because there is a committee set at the community level of Adadama by the Chiefs. We had an extensive meeting after which the committee was set up to advice the Cross River State Government on the demarcation and we are insisting that we are not giving any portion of our land to anybody, but we can talk peace with them. We have identified some of the key issues we are going to talk with them. I have been in touch with the SSS and the DPO over the matter and to seek their commitment. But from our own end there is no problem. However, we don’t need to take any rumor for granted.
Are you saying that since there has been re-occurrence of hostilities between these two communities, the Cross River State Government has permanently stationed security personnel in the area?
Yes. We have a combined team of mobile and normal police force and the SSS made up of between 20-25 personnel. We also have the local vigilante group which assist in taking the security men to show them the areas where the flash points usually occur.
How many committees have been set up as regard this matter and at what levels?
There is already a committee set up by both governments of Cross River and Ebonyi headed by the Deputy Governors of the two states with three members from each community concerned and that committee has been meeting and the next meeting is schedule for 15th of this month in Calabar which the representatives from the communities and the two states will attend; that is the committee in Cross River State and that of Ebonyi state will meet. The only difference is that the Adadama people on their own had decided that we should also let the Cross River State government take a larger engagement platform for the people of Adadama and the people of the other side, so that they know themselves and to find a peaceful means to solving differences. We know we own the land and that has not changed, there is no argument about that. They had brought a proposal in 2006 to cede a portion of our land and we refused and that has not changed. Adadama people won’t cede an inch of their land to anybody. The only difference now is that we are saying, we must have a peace process that will be regular, that will cause us to talk regularly to avert further crises.
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