From Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Government has commenced the last phase of the processes to end the prolonged Amazaba/Ikot Akpan Udo boundary crises.
The boundary crises which erupted in August 2008 between the Amazaba group of villages in Eastern Obolo Local Government and their Ikot Akpan Udo neighbours in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, led to wanton destruction of property and culminated in the two communities fleeing the areas.
Mr Moses Ekpo, Deputy Governor of the state while addressing traditional rulers of the two communities, local government chairmen and a cross-section of commissioners, noted that the resolution of the communal conflict was very dear to Governor Udom Emmanuel, as he had elevated it to a critical aspect of his administration’s Completion Agenda.
Ekpo said, given the high priority status accorded the issue, the state government had issued a White Paper and also set up a White Paper Implementation committee made up of commissioners in relevant project ministries to anchor the restoration of lasting peace as well as resettlement programme for the two communities.
The deputy governor noted that following the confidence-building meeting by the parties, the stage is now set for them to collaborate with the government in activating the next phase of the restoration process.
Read also: We need Peter Obi to rescue Nigeria – LP
The phase, according to him, will involve organising a joint religious solemn assembly service as a platform to deepen social integration among the people while committees on health, education, security, local government, etc, should be formed by the communities to partner with the inter-ministerial committee in the development of schools, hospitals, and other social infrastructure in the affected areas.
He stressed that given the current security situation in the country, it would be suicidal to direct the people to return to their affected area now until adequate security is guaranteed including the establishment of a fully equipped police station in the area.
Ekpo called on the two communities to continue to maintain the peace and abide by their recent commitment to peace-building and assured them that the state government was fully committed to ensuring their safe return to the area when the current process is completed.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom, SAN, who is the sub-committee chairman for the inter-ministerial committee, described the meeting as a huge success as it further reinforced the belief that the two communities were really interested and wholeheartedly committed to peace.
He urged the communities to fully cooperate with the committee’s work in order to fast-track the process and achieve much-needed success.
At the meeting, the two paramount rulers, local government chairmen, village heads and other relevant stakeholders pledged their preparedness to co-operate with the committee to ensure the successful implementation of the government White Paper.
The meeting was attended by the Local Government Chairmen of Ikot Abasi, Mr Joshua Afia, Eastern Obolo, Mr Abraham Odion, the Paramount Ruler of Ikot Abasi, Edidem Udo Joe Ntuk Obom and his Eastern Obolo counterpart, Ubon Harry Etetor, amongst others.