By Ike Uchechukwu
CALABAR—The Federal Government has waded into the persistent conflicts between Igbeagu community in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and their neighbours, Ukelle, in Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State that had often led to huge loss of lives and property.
Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), made this known, Mobrday, when he paid a courtesy visit to the Acting Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ivara Esu, at Government House, Calabar.
Dambazau said he was in the state to visit the affected area, interact with the people and get first hand information on the current state of things in Ukelle community.
According to him, he was in the state, not just as Minister of Interior but also as a member of the National Food Security Committee because such conflict 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,” he said.
He 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.
“Sometimes 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 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 said.
He advised the state government to explore ways of curbing inter-state conflicts with a view of promoting national unity.
Earlier, Esu said that Cross River has always been defensive of 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 continue to claim areas that do not belong to them,” he said.