AK DEPUTY GOVERNOR BLAMES DECREE 23 AS BANE OF BOUNDARY CRISIS IN NIGERIA
… calls for a review
The Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo has blamed the promulgation of decree 23 of 1985 as the bane of the lingering boundary crises accross the country, and has therefore called for a total review of the decree by the National Assembly.
Mr. Ekpo stated this during the Joint Sensitisation and Enlightenment campaign visit of officials of the National Boundary Commission to the border communities of Akwa Ibom/ Abia interstate boundary, held Tuesday at the Forward Operations Military Base in Ika Local Government Area.
The Deputy Governor opined that the decree amounted to an administrative error as it was wrong for people to stay in far away places and demarcate areas they had no idea about, even without considering the consequences of such action on the relationship of the people living in such areas.
Ekpo explained that drawing boundary lines to create a bridge between siblings was not in any way promoting a peaceful coexistence between warring communities.
While calling for peace to be maintained until final boundary tracing and demacation was concluded by NBC, he advised against further eruption of crises in the area which could lead to loss of lives.
“Don’t let a piece of land lead to taking the life of any person because it is not worth it”, he admonished.
The Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor appealed to the NBC and the Nigerian Army to dismantle any vistage of identification supporting ownership claims by both parties in order to ensure peace while carrying on the process of boundary determination.
The Deputy Governor of Abia State, Rt.Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu attributed most of the boundary crises across the country to criminality by undesirable elements and called on security operatives to arrest and prosecute such perpetrators.
While calling for a mob up of arms from those who are not licenced to carry arms, he also mentioned the major role illicit drugs play in fueling crises, acknowledging that most criminal activities are carried out under the influence of drugs.
He commended his counterpart in Akwa Ibom for his efforts at ensuring a peaceful resolution of the boundary crises.
“Of all the States I have boundary issues with, I’m closest to the Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor,who is willing to sacrifice anything to promote peace”, he stated.
Mr. Chukwu appealed to the communities to exercise patience and allow the National Boundary Commission to do the needful.
The Director-General of the National Boundary Commission, Surv. Adamu Adaji said the NBC was in the state to broker peace between the two communities.
He comended the efforts of the two states in maintaining peace at their common borders.
“We are here on a peace mission to preach peace and for you to embrace peace as all Nigerians are free to live anywhere in Nigeria”, he said.
Adaji noted that “the causes of crisis are due to none determination and demarcation of boundaries between the two states and both parties desire that boundaries be properly determined”.
The Director General called on the youth leaders from both communities to embrace peace, while also stressing the need for Peace and security Committees to be established in both states with membership drawn from relevant agencies.
According to him, the NBC takes the Akwa Ibom/Abia States boundary crises as one of the volatile interstate boundaries in Nigeria, because we have records of high rate of threat to peace and in some cases, loss of lives.
“I want to assure you that we are determined and willing and will very soon commence the definition of the boundary”, Adaji assured.
The lingering impasse unfortunately created tension over the years, resulting in wanton loss of lives and property. He noted that given the present insecurity, the NBC is not going to waste anymore time on making sure that we partner the two states to bring this impasse to a permanent end.
He therefore appealed for the support of the affected communities and called on them to sheath their swords and allow peace to reign so that the Commission can be encouraged to define the state boundaries.
The Council Chairmen of both Ika Local Government Area, Hon. Malachy Ukpeh and Ukwa East, Hon. Chuks Wabara, as well as community leaders also spoke at the occasion.
A similar visit was made to Nkari in Ini Local Government on Monday.