FROM: JOE EFFIONG & GABRIEL EFO, UYO,
Elders of the three local government areas of Akwa Ibom State currently locked in a communal clash with their neighbours from Cross River State have threatened to resort to self help if the National Boundary Commission fails to stop the lingering boundary crisis between the two states.
Communities in Itu, Uruan and Ibiono local government areas of Akwa Ibom State have been having bloody clashes with the people of Ikot Offiong, in Odukapani Local Government Area of Cross River State.
But the elders of the three local government areas, while addressing a press conference at the weekend in Uyo, regretted that after the July 11 meeting among deputy governors from both states, security agencies and elders of affected communities aimed at finding a lasting solution to the dispute, armed men from Ikot Offiong had attacked defenceless fishermen in Itu.
Mr Ekong Demson, from Itu, who spoke on behalf of the elders, however, accused the Nigerian Army of unlawfully releasing 17 armed men who were arrested with sophisticated weapons and two 50kg of bags of ammunition on the 19th of May, 2017.
“It is surprising and unbelievable that barely two days after the parley, the people of Ikot Offiong hired mercenaries from Cross River State aged with sophisticated weapons, attacked defenseless fishermen along the river in Itu, killing one Ifiok Ita Udo Ekpo from Idu Uruan and seized several boats and fishing nets.
“This press conference has become necessary to expose the fact that the people of Cross River State came into the peace meeting of last Tuesday with utmost bad faith and pretense,” he said.
Demson however alleged that he was certain that key functionaries of Cross River State, both at the federal and state levels were secretly sponsoring the dispute to distort the progress of “the peace loving people of Akwa Ibom State who are law abiding and engaging in lawful economic activities in their territory.”
Hon. Ekpe Atakpo, who represented Uruan, said that they would not fold their arms and watch their land being forcefully taken away from them, saying that they would do everything within their powers to protect their territory.
“I want the press to tell the whole world this. Anybody that wants to reside in Akwa Ibom Stage should do so but should be law abiding. We will not allow anyone to come and claim our own land from us. We urge the federal government to look into this crisis else, they will leave us no option than to help ourselves,” he said.