Ebonyi, Cross River boundary dispute reignites, five persons killed

Augustine Anioke

Five farmers from Ali Ugwele Village in Ekoli-Edda community of Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have been killed by unknown assailants believe to be from a neighbouring community in Cross River State.

Sources in the area said the farmers harvesting cassava from their farmlands when they were attacked and killed

The assailants, according to a source, attacked, killed and allegedly ate up the lifeless bodies of their victims as a way to cover up the trace of their nefarious activities in the area.

The village and neighbouring Erei village in Biasa LGA of Cross River State have been having disagreement over the control and ownership of the palm tree plantation which had lasted for some years.

There had been relative peace between both sides of the divide for sometime now until the recent attack on Ekoli-Edda people by assailants from Cross River State.

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It was gathered that one of the victims of the attack that escaped from the attackers was the person that gave insight into the ugly development.

The Chairman of Afikpo South LGA, Dr. Eni Uduma Chima who expressed sadness over the unfortunate incident noted that efforts were on to ensure the security of lives of the people of Ekoli-Edda Community.

He pointed out that he would not fold his arms and allow miscreants unsettle the peace in the affected community.

He said: “On Monday July 12th, 2021. Ekoli Edda people of Afikpo South L.G.A who went to farm at Aliugwelu, Ekoli Edda were attacked by Egbor people with their allies and masters from Enna, in Biase L.G.A of Cross River State.

“One Ama Chukwu, 39 years old male who was harvesting cassava from his farm , was killed and beheaded while another man Mr. Egor Etta Oji “m” with the son Felix Egor Etta, 11 years old male were slaughtered and their meat eaten by the Enna barbarians.

“A fourth person Nneka Olughu, who was abducted alongside the afore-mentioned persons was however released after her abductors confirmed that she was from a different community.

“Ekoli Edda people of Afikpo South L.G.A and Egbor, with Urugbam people of Biase L.G.A of Cross River State have been enmeshed in boundary dispute since 2018 when Egbor community unilaterally purported to have leased out for ten years , the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) plantation land jointly donated or acquired from the three different communities by the defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria”

“The matter which was promptly reported to the National Boundary Commission for adjudication is in advanced stage. It is expected that the Commission will take urgent steps to conclude with the boundary matter and carry out the needed tracing and demarcation which will bring permanent peace in the area.”, he added

Mr Uduma called for calm on the part of the people of Afikpo South L.G.A, especially as the Council Chairman of Biase L.G.A of Cross River State has expressed sadness over the incidence and called on the people to give peace a chance.

“In recent time, the Traditional Rulers of Edda Clan and some influential people of Edda under the aegis of Edda General Assembly have initiated an ongoing peace process aimed at reconciling the three communities.

“This development was welcomed by the two Council Chairmen. The present attack on soft targets will definitely be a set back.”, he said

Commissioner for Internal Security Security, Border Peace, Stanley Okoro-Emegha described the situation as unfortunate.

He noted that as a result of the recent attack on Ali Ugwele village in Ekoli-Edda Community of Afikpo South LGA of Ebonyi State, 5 persons are currently missing, one killed while one has returned home to his people.

According to him, Ebonyi State Government have been doing its best to ensure peace among both sides of the divide.

He blamed Cross River Government for being lackadaisical in the handling of the situation even as he explained that Ebonyi State Government would write to the General Officer Commanding, GOC 82 Div. for the permanent deployment of soldiers to the affected Communities of Ebonyi and Cross River States.

He said: “The affected community in Ebonyi is very close to where we have the palm tree settlement. They invaded there. Six persons were affected, one person have returned. Five persons are still missing while they killed one and cut off the person’s head.

“It’s been a very long issue between us and that particular area. We have done everything we know we can to make peace.The Government has written to the National Boundary Commission, NBC for delineation to know the authenticity and the area owned by each of the people.

“It is a land that was jointly owned by Ebonyi, Biasa and Ohafia. That palm plantation was done by Sam Mbakwe era; it was owned by the Federal Government. It was when we were all in the East Central zone. Then before Imo, then from there, Ebonyi State. The lands were jointly donated. They brought part of theirs and our own. It’s unfortunate. The state government has been in the matter for a very long time. The system of Ebonyi State Government and that of Cross River is different.

“The Governor of Cross River is not interested in handling the matter. We visited there. We have written to them. We have made appeal. We visited their traditional Ruler. I personally have called their Commissioner. I have called the person in charge of the Internal security there. I have called the Local Government Chairman from there.

“We have made moves for them to talk to their people. At a time they will tell us that they have agreed to live in peace but before you know it, they will go and invade our area and kill our people. This is what they have been doing for a very long time. There was a time they killed five persons and up till now we have not seen the persons.

“We made an appeal to let us know where they buried them if they killed them but no head way. These are people who kill and eat human parts. Is either they use the head for rituals or they share the parts.

“They still eat human beings. The terrain to the place is not easily accessible. The state government is still taking care of the logistics for the soldiers and mobile policemen posted to Ekoli-Edda Community.

“The distance between Ekoli-Edda and the community where we have the plantation is very far. It is not motorable. And so, it is very difficult for soldiers to be stationed there. It is very very difficult.

“What we intend to do now is to write to the GOC of 82 Div for deployment of soldiers. The GOC is also in charge of Cross River. Let the GOC approve joint military deployment to the area permanently. Let the soldiers go there and live.”, he said. Ends

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