By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
No fewer than 250 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Itu Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State taking refuge in schools, churches and neighbouring villages have called on the state and federal governments to give them ease of life.
Mostly affected are people of Ayadehe community in the area following the aged-long boundary dispute between Oku Iboko in Itu local government area, Akwa Ibom and Ikot Offiong in Onukpani local government area in Cross River states which had claimed several lives and property.
A spokesman for the Ayadehe community, Mr Edet Enang, said that since the mayhem was launched it has motivated a variety of social, political, economic and security problems in the area as schools, markets, farming and fishing and other businesses are still grounded.
Eniang, a retired Director in the State Civil Service, stated this when the boundary sensitisation committee visited the community in continuation of sensitization campaign to pave way for boundary demarcate, appealed to the government to assist the community with relief materials.
As a mark of compensation for the damages and reparation done to the Ayadehe clan, he called on the federal government to compel the Cross River state government to pay the sum of N2.5 billion to the internally displaced people of Ayadehe village.
The people also urged governments to dislodge the militants on the Cross River end of the Itu bridge/wetland as well as erecting Marine Police post to promote confidence in the people.
“We are by this circumstance of the plight of the Ayadehe IDPs appeal to Your Excellency to kindly intervene in this matter pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/50/195.
“The greater burden of accommodating IDPs from Mbiabo Edere, Ayadehe bridge head and others is still resting on Ayadehe communty,” he said.
The community, however welcome the decision of the federal government to proffer a lasting peace, the Ayadehe chiefs also tasked Akwa Ibom and Cross River State governments to negotiate a political dialogue to address the boundary issue.
He said dozens of innocent people were reportedly killed during the year in a renewed attack by militants hired by neigbouring Ikot offiong village and suspected to be sponsored by Cross River State government.
According to him, “Ikot offiong village was in Itu local government area of Akwa Ibom state before the creation of the state, sharing boundary between Ayadehe community and Oku Iboku clan but largely populated by Efik speaking people of Odukpani local government area of Cross River state.”
Earlier, the State Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo had advised the people in the community to continue to allow peace to reign in the area saying the planned demarcation of the boundary between the two states was aimed at finding lasting solution to the conflict.
Ekpo who is also the chairman of the state boundary committee represented by the Permanent Secretary in his office Mr. Nkopuruk Ekaiko, reassured them that the state government would not allow any part of their land to be ceded to any other state.
He advised people of the community to always channel their grievances to appropriate authority instead of taking law into their hand and should cooperate during the boundary demarcation exercise by the federal government.
The Paramount Ruler of Itu local government area, HRM Edidem Edet Akpan Inyang told the stakeholders that the unfortunate conflict between Oku Iboku and Ikot Officiong was an internal thing in Akwa Ibom.
In his remarks, the South-South Zonal Liason Officer, National Boundary Commission, Mr. Marcel Ukweni said the visit was to intimate the community of the federal government readiness to demarcate the interstate boundary between Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.
Government, he said will fix a date for the interstate boundary demarcation exercise at the end of the sensitization/enlightenment visit to areas affected.
The Chief Resident Surveyor of Akwa Ibom, Mr Bala Ipalibo lauded the role of the state government in ensuring that the sensitization for the demarcation of the boundary became a success.
He said that the office of the Surveyor General of the Federation was ready to carry out the boundary exercise, warning that the demarcation exercise will be carried out without fear or favour.