By Harris Emanuel, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State government has expressed worries over the spate of communal crises across the state, warning that government would take over such disputed lands to put a stop to further destruction and use such for development.
Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo who made this known also described as both unwarranted and criminal the wanton destruction of lives and property by communities engaging in communal clashes across the state.
Ekpo gave the warning during a meeting held at his instance over the boundary dispute between Uko Akpan Enwang and Uko Ntighe Uda Villages in Mbo Local Government Area, at Government House, Uyo.
He expressed displeasure over the recent crisis in parts of Mbo which he acknowledged had claimed innocent lives and property, a situation he said could have been averted if both parties had followed the path of peace and caution.
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He said, “I called this meeting as a warning because you lose so much anytime you inflict yourself with crises. The little palliatives given by the state government could have been used for more profitable things and may never be enough to replace the things destroyed.
“Destroying lives and properties because of land which originally belongs to God and only held in trust by the government is wrong. We will rather take over the land and manage it than leave it to be the reason for killings and destruction. The industry could be sited there for the interest of both communities.”
The Deputy Governor, who assured Mbo people of the readiness of the State government to push through with the Ibom Deep Seaport project, stressed that with the recent approval by the Federal government it would be counter-productive if Mbo which he described as the “bridgehead and fulcrum” of development was insecure for investment.
Ekpo commended the Paramount Ruler and the traditional ruler’s council for their efforts at resolving the matter but advised them to further engage all the parties involved and stakeholders in peaceful discussions in order to arrive at a peaceful resolution. He admonished the youths of the area to be law-abiding as the lasting solution is being brokered.
The deputy governor also charged the security agencies to step up efforts and ensure that the disputed parcel of land does not become the trigger for a further breakdown of law and order in the area.
The Council Chairman of Mbo Local Government, Asuquo Effiong Eyo, who said the conflict has become perennial, described the level of destruction during the recent crises as disheartening.
The Council Boss commended the efforts of the state government and traditional institution for prompt intervention, but still appealed for security to be beefed up in the area to avoid a reoccurrence of the unfortunate incident.
Paramount Ruler of Mbo, HRM Ogwong Okon Abang, who described the warring communities as brethren expressed disappointment at the level of destruction of lives and properties.
The monarch appealed to the state government to come to the aid of the affected persons by way of sending palliatives and security to the area.
In their separate remarks, the Clan Heads of Ukwong Clan, HRH Offong Justin Elijah and his counterpart in Afaha Okpo Enwang, Ovong Bassey Effiong Atabia and the representative of the Uko Ntighe Uda Villages, Chief Odiong Samuel all sued for peace but called on the State Government to work hand in hand with the traditional ruler’s council and other relevant agencies to find a lasting peace to the conflict.