By Violet Isek
Natives of Ukelle community in Yala local government area of northern Cross River State have demanded drastic action from the governor, Senator Ben Ayade to end the recent communal clash with the neighboring Izzi local government area of Ebonyi State as they face extinction.
A group of the natives led by Mr. Solomon Ugo disclosed this in Calabar earlier today when they protested to the residence of the local government affairs commissioner, Mr. John Ulafor in his residence.
Mr. Ulafor is a native of Ukelle.
Bearing placards with inscriptions such as “Ukelle is Weeping; Stop the Killings, Ukelle Children are becoming homeless,” the group said they want to inquire if the governor is aware of their plights among other things.
“We are here requesting the incessant killing that is going on in Ukelle over land dispute between Ukelle Community and Izzi local government area ends; and seeing that there has been a lot of destruction of lives and properties worth millions of naira, we are protesting peacefully,” Mr. Ugo said and called for Governor Ayade to “swiftly act so that Ukelle is not extinct. Our land is our ancestral heritage.”
He continued: “We are marching to the commissioner for local government affairs who incidentally is from where it is happening, to ask if officially the governor is aware of the travails of our people, so that is why we are going.
“Our demands are that most of Ukelle people that have been arrested in connection with this war should be released unconditionally.”
He also called on the government to set up a home for displaced persons affected by the war.
He averred that: “The government should also set up IDP camps to really help people that have been rendered homeless.
“A lot of places were burnt especially in Ipollo, we are really homeless and that is why we are calling on the government to do something tangible. The government should call on the National Boundary Commission to come and really sort this out once and for all.”
Mr. Ulafor who welcomed the group at his residence, commended the civility in their actions and assured them that the state government was doing its own bit to ensure that the issue is been resolved.
“Whatever you are doing is not out of place at all, as far as it is civil as you have conducted yourselves. This is pain that has grown over the years, we are in the state of mourning,” Ulafor said.
“The Government is doing so much, the security has been sent in there, but the other things we do, we do them quietly. We try to see how we ensure the security takes over the place,” he added.
He also stated that the national boundary commission is aware of the situation and it is in collaboration with the two deputy governors of Cross River and Ebonyi States.
Cross River acting Governor, Professor Ivara Esu had met with the residents and assured them of support.
He later met with the deputy governor of Ebonyi state, Mr. Eric Igwe where a ceasefire was agreed.
Unconfirmed reports suggests tens have been killed. But, the police command in Cross River State has continuously denied this.
However, despite the ceasefire, CrossRiverWatch sources say residents still move around with guns in the evenings in fear of reprisals.
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