Judex Okoro, Calabar
The inter-boundary clash between Obubura in Cross River and Izzi in Ebonyi State have continued unabated as Obubra women numbering over 50 protested against the incessant war, demanding peaceful resolution.
The Protesting women from Isopong one and two in Obubura Local Government Area appealed to the Governor Ben Ayade to help bring back peace to their communities as youths men have all deserted the communities, leaving only women.
The women, who were in tears wielded placards with inscriptions such as: “SoS Gov. Ayade, we have been rendered homeless, poor and hungry in our communities”, “Save us from the ongoing war with Ebonyi” and “The land is no more peaceful, please save us.”
This is the second time the women are taking to the streets against the wanton destruction of property and loss of lives. In March 2018, hundreds of women had shut down shut down the local government secretariat in anger to kick against the alleged neglect of their relatives in Osopong by authorities.
The women among others accused the government and security agencies of insensitivity over the renewed hostilities and vowed to collect taxes and levies on behalf of government to purchase ‘items’ for their relatives at the war front.
Daily Sun investigations revealed that in the last couple of years, all the Cross River border communities including Itigidi, Ikureku, Obubra, Adadama, Ukele and Yala have had to fight bloody battles with Ebonyi to protect their farmlands. But the Idia and Okpetumor communities in Izzi of Ebonyi and Ofonekom, Ogamana, Idoru Ofonmana, Igitum and Osopong, Obubra land disputes have become a recurring decimal.
Available records showed that the boundary dispute between Adadama in Cross River and Amagu in Ebonyi, which was said to have been demarcated in 1920 and that of Osopong and their Izzi neighbours have been recently engaged in a battle of their lives.
Speaking to newsmen during the protest in Calabar, leader of the group, Mrs. Beatrice Ibiyang, said they traveled all the way to Calabar to cry to the governor to help end the boundary crisis between Isopong communities in Cross River and Izzi, Nyimagu communities in Ebonyi.
“The crisis had been ongoing since 2017 and 11 villages had been burnt down. This year alone, they had lost over 20 people in their communities over the crisis. I can tell you that all forms of commercial activities including schools in Isopong communities had been crippled rendering the people poor, hungry and homeless,” Ibiyang said.
She alleged that though the military was sent to the area, they had not helped much because they must be ordered to take action before they did and sometimes when the crisis was raging, the military left the communities to their fate, they said.
“Our children, youths and husbands are dying because of this war that is still ongoing as we speak; we cannot go to our farms, markets, and there are no schools anymore for our children to go to,” she said.
Also lamenting their woe, Mrs. Philomena Ekpo said the traditional rulers have tried their best to ensure that peace returns by reporting the matter in the Obubura LGA council but it had yielded no solution, hence they decided to come themselves to cry to the governor that they needed peace.
“We need peace so that we can go back to our normal lives and our children can go back to school,” he declared.
Governor Ben Ayade thanked the women for being peaceful in their protest.
Ayade, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary on Security in Cross River, Dr Alfred Mboto, said the government had heard their cries and would make necessary contributions to ensure that peace returns to the people.
He said agencies like the state Emergency Management Agency would be made aware of the situation so that they could help provide some level of succour to the people.
On the issue of the military presence in the communities, he said much of the destruction that had happened in the communities was carried out in areas without military presence at the time.
“The army cannot be everywhere in the bushes at the same time, they would be where they would protect lives and properties in the town.
“For all the land mass of Cross River as far as that axis is concerned, there are legal documents to every inch of land and the state government has written so many times asking the boundary commission to come for boundary demarcation without response from them.
“I, however, believe that with the institution of a peace committee by the state which has also been done in Ebonyi, we would be able to sit and dialogue to solve this problem. I have confidence in the peace committee to be able to do the needful to ensure peace returns in the communities,” he said.