From Judex Okoro, Calabar
A prolonged border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroun resurfaced at the weekend when people from Bodam, a Camerounian community invaded Danare community in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State.
During the attack, six persons were injured, with over 1,000 farmlands destroyed.
Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that the people of Bodam, for decades, have invaded Danare, Biajua and Basua border communities which they claimed were part of their territory.
In 2014, the communities raised the alarm over alleged plots by the Camerounian government, in collaboration with the United Nations Technical Team on Border Demarcation, to implant a New Pillar 113A, in line with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment.
Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Mr Hafiz Inuwa, who briefed newsmen shortly after a visit to Danare community, said nobody died in the attack but six residents had gunshot wounds.
“The Camerounian community, Bodam, which borders Nigeria, in Boki Local Government Area of the state, had crisis with Danare community, over the international land dispute.
“We found out that six persons were shot and they are currently in the hospital as gun pellets are being removed from their bodies..
“They were shot by the people of Bodam village from Cameroun. We have advised the people to restore normalcy and shun all forms of crisis and allow government to take charge.
“They told us that they were preparing to repel the attack because the Camerounian had encroached almost 43 kilometres into their land without any permission.”
The commissioner of police further disclosed that the Danare people have appealed to the state government to provide electricity, drinkable water, communication network and police post in the area.
A member of the Cross River House of Assembly, who represents Boki 1 State Constituency, Dr Itam Abang, said “over 1,000 cocoa, plantain and banana farms were destroyed by the Camerounians during the invasion.
“Majority of residents in the area are farmers. They appealed to the federal government to intervene by providing the people with adequate security and social amenities.
“When we got there, the Danare people had already mobilised for war.
“Luckily, we arrived on time in company with the commissioner of police and we had to prevail on them not to go into the forest.
“From where we were standing, we could hear gun shots because the Camerounians had really encroached into Danare community.
“We advised residents in the community to hold their peace, that state and federal governments are going to step in, to restore peace and normalcy in the area,’’ the lawmaker said.
A former member of the state assembly, Hon Cletus Obung, said Danare and other affected communities will resist any attempt by the United Nations, Cameroon or federal government to annex their land and advised the Nigeria government against playing international politics with human lives.
Meanwhile, Governor Ben Ayade at the weekend sent a high-powered delegation to Danare in a bid to de-escalate tension between the communities.
The delegation which was led by the State Security Adviser, Mr Jude Ngaji and the Commissioner of Police met with the leaders of the community, including youth leaders.
Ngaji assured the people that the governor will seek the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter as it involves a foreign country and urged them to keep the peace and not react to the provocation of the Cameroonians.
“This is a border community and the governor will take it to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that something is done as quickly as possible,” Ngaji said and assured the people that government will soon bring infrastructural development to the area so as to give them a sense of belonging.
The Commissioner of Police said the state command has deployed men to the community to ensure peace and added, “As police, we have deployed our men to bring peace.”
A member of the state House of Assembly, Hon Itam Abang said “the governor has shown interest in the matter that is why you are seeing this high power delegation led by the State Security Adviser and the Commissioner of Police and myself.
“We are working towards restoration of peace in this area and know that our people are not going to be abandoned. That is why we came into the village to see things for ourselves
“We want the United Nations to go back and redelianiate and conclude what they started in 2013 because it has not been concluded.”
The Village head, Chief Achibal Gabor said his people needed security presence at the land border between their community and Cameroon.
“We want the land border protected. We don’t want to see any Cameroonian crossing to our land without checks because they will continue to unleash their violence against us.if you know that we belong to Nigeria, then do something now.”