The Federal Government has expressed displeasure over the lingering crisis between the people of Ukelle in Yala local government area of Cross River State and Igbeagu community in Izzi local government area of Ebonyi State.
Speaking with the acting governor of the state, Prof. Ivarra Esu on Monday, the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd) expressed sadness over the persistent crisis in the area.
He regretted that the crisis which erupted over the struggle for land ownership had claimed many lives, and led to the destruction of properties and farmlands worth several millions of naira.
Dambazau said he was in the state to visit the affected areas with a view to interacting with the people and getting first hand information on the current state of things in Ukelle community.
He said he was in the state, not just as the Minister of Interior, but also as a member of the national food security committee because such conflicts had a negative impact on food security.
“As a member of the committee 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
“Some time ago, I was in Cross River where I visited the affected areas of the Wanikade and Wanihem communal crisis. I am here on another visit, on same issue.
“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 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 stated. He advised the state government to explore ways of curbing inter-state conflicts with a view of promoting national unity.”
Speaking earlier, the acting governor, Esu said that Cross River has always been on the defensive in several inter-state conflicts. He described the recent attack on the Ukelle people by the Izzi as tragic, saying that the people struck a day after a peace meeting between the two states was held.
“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 still continue to claim areas that do not belong to them,” he said.
When DAILY POST contacted the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Inuwa Hafiz, he said that the Command had provided adequate security in the area with a view to protecting lives and property but regretted that the incident had claimed lives and property.
“We have provided adequate security in the area. The incident occurred last in 2005 and it is over land, the two state governments lay claims on the piece of land there and that the land belongs to them,” he said.
Hafiz expressed hopes that with the involvement of National Boundary Commission, the issue would be laid to rest forever.