From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Efforts by acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, to mediate in the boundary disputes between Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers states as well as Cross Rivers and Ebonyi states may have ended in deadlock.
Three governors of the concerned states left the venue of a meeting convened to discuss the issue, without speaking with newsmen at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Osinbajo met with Governors Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers as well as Dave Umahi of Ebonyi alongside officials of Boundary Commission for about an hour in the State House, behind closed doors.
Alhough his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, had informed State House Correspondents that there would be no interview after the meeting, the countenance of the governors betrayed the fact that the meeting could have ended on a sour note. When newsmen approached Ayade and Umahi to find out details of the meeting, they met a brickwall, as both governors hurriedly left the Villa. The boundary dispute between people of Oku Iboku, in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom and those of Ikot Offiong in Odukpani council in Cross River, last month, left no fewer than 20 people dead.
The two communities were said to have used light and heavy weapons during a fight on February 10. Most of those killed were reportedly from Ikot Offiong, after Oku Iboku youths ambushed them and chased them to the neigbouring Odukpani community.
As a result of the fight, travellers were stranded on the Calabar-Itu Highway for hours on Saturday, February 11, until the arrival of soldiers, who drove the irate youths away, to make way for smooth movement of motorists and commuters.
The fight was said to have been the third since last December.
In the case of Ebonyi State, Umahi had last month appealed to the Federal Government to intervene and provide lasting solution in settling the boundary dispute between the people of Azuofia Idda and Ohene in Ebonyi and Cross River states, which has claimed many lives.
According to him, strong political will from both states was needed in resolving the problem.