Cross River Incessant Communal Crises: What Will Prince Otu Do Differently? BY AGBA JALINGO

In Breaking News, Opinion

Obubra still holds the gold medal for the highest number of communal clashes in Cross River State.

Apart from the ongoing clash between Ofatura and Ovunum communities which has blocked the highway, in Obubra alone, there are active or hibernating communal clashes between:

Iyamitet and Ababene.

Iyamitet and Adun.

Ofatura and Apiapum.

Onyadama and neighboring Inyima in Yakurr LGA.

Onyadama and Nko community in Yakurr LGA.

Ochon community and Akam in Ikom LGA.

Apiapum community and Izzi in Ebonyi State.

Ofomana community and Azuofia-Edda community of Abakaliki.

Ogwurude, Ofonama, Okinbogha, Ogamana, Ovurokponu, Okpechi, Ofenagama, Eja, and Ijutum communities in Obubra, have all fought their Ebonyi neighbors.

Isobo community and Ofonekpa Inyimagu in Ebonyi State are said to have began in 1984.

Even the Silver and Bronze medals are won comfortably by two other LGAs in the Central, Yakurr, and Abi LGA.

Yakurr has recorded fatal communal crises between:

Nko community in Yakurr and Onyadama in Obubra.

Nko and Inyima.

Nko and Mkpani.

Nko and Ugep which has since died down.

Ugep and Idomi rumored to have begun since 1928.

Ugep and Mkpani.

Ugep and Ekori.

Agoi Ibami and Agoi Ekpo.

Agoi Ibami and Mkpani.

Nko and Agoi Ekpo.

Asiga and Inyima.

Asiga and Ekori.

Ugep and Adim in neighboring Biase LGA.

Ugep and Annong in Biase LGA.

Despite producing a governor for eight years, Abi LGA which comes third, is riddled with some of the most intractable communal feuds between:

Ediba and Usumutong.

Ebom and Ebijakara war which saw the Ebijakara community wiped out till date as not a soul was left in the community by the time law enforcement officers waded in to stop the carnage.

Adadama and Amagu in Ikwo LGA of Ebonyi State.

Adadama, Igbo Amabana, Igbo Ekureku, and Afagara.

Akpabuyo, Calabar South, Calabar Municipal, and Bakassi LGA appear to be the only ones not caught by the communal war bug out of the 18 LGAs in Cross River. All other 14 LGAs have at least one active or hibernating communal war. Even Governor Ayade’s Obudu LGA has Kutia and Okworotung Communities fighting as well as perennial boundary wars between the Obudu people and their Tiv neighbors in Benue State, with Bekwarra LGA coming the least with only the 1995 war with their Ishibori neighbors.

None of our Governors have found a long-term approach to resolving these crises, yet we keep trumpeting our State as the most peaceful State in the country. Successive governors have only been copying and pasting the same strategy that hasn’t worked.

Which is to wait for the crises to erupt, and damages inflicted, send in troops to quell the wars, keep them there for some time and withdraw them. Sack traditional rulers of the warring communities on impulse. Set up committees made up mostly of politicians that will hold endless meetings and in some cases, produce reports that are not acted upon and wait again till the next crisis erupts.

It is still difficult to quantify the extent to which government has involved natives of warring communities in their effort to resolve these teething problems.

It is also doubtful to what extent government has accommodated and relied on experienced professional arbitrators in framing long-term workable resolutions that can engender enduring peace and healing amongst these communities.

It is also suspicious whether successive governments and their agents have themselves not been complicit in these crises and to what extent they have been the political will to punish collaborators in government.

These three posers need to be interrogated.

We cannot overemphasize the consequences of these skirmishes on both the economy and the entire well-being of our State. Today’s war between Ofatura and Ovunum got houses and properties burnt and blocked the federal highway for hours. Calculate the losses.

So the question now is, “What does Prince Otu, the incoming governor have in his kitty that he wants to do differently, to resolve some of these clashes permanently?

Or is he also coming to gloss over them like his predecessors?

It’s important that we know because it is actually our right to know.

Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, a Cross Riverian, and writes from Lagos.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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