JOE EFFIONG, UYO
The Akwa Ibom State Government has appealed to the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to do everything within the limits of its statutory powers to ensure the quick resolution to the Cross River/Akwa Ibom State lingering boundary crisis.
The deputy governor of the state, Mr. Moses Ekpo who made the appeal at Itu during the direct distribution of relief materials by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Akwa Ibom State Government officials to affected residents of Oku Iboku,in Itu Local Government Area who were allegedly displaced by a recent violent invasion by their Cross River neighbours, explained that given the huge losses sustained in human lives and property, including loss of jobs and houses, it had become imperative that no effort should be spared in bringing the border crises to an end.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in his office, Mr. Nkopuruk Ekaiko, the Deputy Governor while distributing the items to victims, commended the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, for always responding to the plight of the state in critical times of need.
He expressed the sympathy of the Akwa Ibom State government to the victims of the attack and explained that the items were not intended to replace the lives and property lost during the attack, but to ameliorate the pains of their losses.
He further noted that the distribution of the relief materials was very symbolic as it represents a conscious effort by both the state and federal governments to empathize with the people in their moment of grief and to give them a hope and a sense of belonging.
Mr Ekpo recalled that the latest attack in May was one in a series of unprovoked attacks that has made the border a flashpoint, with the agenda of the invaders being “to steal, kill, destroy and plunder” the area.
He however urged the victims to remain peaceful with their neighbours and eschew the temptation to take the laws into their hands through reprisal attacks.
The Local Government Chairman of Itu, Mr Etetim Onuk thanked the state and federal governments and their relevant agencies for the relief which he said was “a well-thought-out gesture” which had brought joy to the entire people of the area, adding that “by this act, the government has demonstrated that it is both responsible and responsive”.
Onuk commiserated with families who lost their loved ones and valued property during the attack, and prayed for a speedy resolution to the border issue in order to enable the people live in peace.
The Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Mustapha Habib Ahmed who was represented by the South-South Zonal Co-ordinator, Mr. Godwin Tepikor said that following their post-impact assessment of the area in May, it became necessary to seek and obtain presidential approval for the relief in order to help the victims recover from the impact of the attack.
The Clan head of Oku Iboku, Etebom Essien Edet Okokon thanked the government at all levels for a successful collaboration which has brought some sense of relief to the affected residents.
A total of 761 families benefited from the relief materials which included; rice, beans, vegetable oil, tomatoes, garri, Maggi, bathing soap, mosquito nets and mattresses.