Communal Crisis: Cross River, Benue Communities To Meet As FG Wades Into Ukelle Vs Izzi War

In Breaking News, Crime, National News

By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent

Information reaching CrossRiverWatch suggests that the Abonkib community of Obudu local government area and the Mbazerem community of Vandeikya local government area of Benue state will meet again to fine tune discussions in a bid to find lasting solutions to the issues that have caused both communities to war.

This comes ten days after the federal government promised to assiduously pursue to an end, the conflict between South Ukelle in Yala local government area of northern Cross River and Izzi local government area of Ebonyi state.

A member of the peace committee told CrossRiverWatch on condition of anonymity that a bulldozer was brought in last week Monday, July 16, 2018 to clear the crops planted by the Mbazerem natives at a land belonging to Abonkib as a means to end the conflict after the Vandeikya committee had accepted that their natives had indeed farmed across the boundary.

But, following disagreements, the bulldozer was not utilised and a meeting fixed for a later date to fine tune discussions. “The chairman of Vandeikya, Akura Denis and Obudu HOLGA are to discuss and inform us,” the source said.

The bulldozer hired for the exercise.

Meanwhile, the minister of interior, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd) while on a courtesy visit to the then acting governor, Professor Ivara Esu on July 16 said that the federal government is seeking ways to end the communal conflict between Cross River and Ebonyi communities due to the challenge it poses to national food security.

“I am mandated to look into this particular case of Cross River and Ebonyi States, which to a large extent affects farming communities. This conflict is about land which the people depend on for survival because most of the people are farmers. It is important to look at how these conflicts impact on food security in the country,” the minister said.

“The Federal Government will not give up in ensuring that all these crises are brought to an end. We are determined to foster peace between the people of Ukelle and the Izzi. The crisis has affected the farming communities because the contending issue is land. We are exploring ways on how the conflict can be resolved.

“This crisis has far reaching consequences on food security in the country. The Federal Government is more concerned about the loss of lives, destruction of properties, markets and farmlands. We have come together with the Director General of National Boundary Commission, Dr. Mohammed Ahmed, we are all heading to the affected area,” he added.

Advising the state continuously explore ways of curbing inter-state conflicts with a view of promoting national unity, Dambazzau expressed displeasure that the crisis which erupted over the struggle for land ownership had claimed many lives and destroyed farmlands and properties worth millions of naira.

That was his second visit to the state on the same issue with the first in July 2017.

In his remarks, Professor Esu appealed the federal government through the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to take pragmatic steps to resolve the incessant boundary disputes between Cross River and its neighboring states.

Esu said, the appeal became necessary in view of the effect the crisis has on the economic as well as the social life of the people and expressed worry over the renewed skirmishes between communities despite recent peace meetings.

“We had a meeting just two weeks ago where the two deputy governors met the chiefs, lawmakers and the National Boundary Commission. Just the following day after we returned, the Ukelle people were attacked again. Minister, please when you visit Ebonyi State, ask them what they want so that we can start from there.

“The National Boundary Commission should show more visible actions so that we can know clearly the areas we should enter and the one we should not. Some pillars have been removed, all these need to be put in place accordingly. Until this is done, people will continue to claim areas that do not belong to them,” he said and maintained that the state has always been on the defensive.

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