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Commission moves to demarcate Cross River-Ebonyi interstate boundary

The National Boundary Commission has urged relevant stakeholders in Cross River and Ebonyi states to support ongoing efforts toward the demarcation of the interstate boundary.

The Director-General of the commission, Mr Adamu Adaji, made the call in Abuja on Monday at a joint meeting of officials of both states to address the lingering interstate boundary dispute.

Mr Adaji explained that the meeting was convened to review the status of the boundary and discuss the way forward towards definition and delimitation of the boundary.

He said that the interstate boundary dispute between the states dated back several years ago.

He added that misunderstanding and crisis engulfed the border communities from time to time due to the land dispute and indigene settler dichotomy.

He blamed the persistent crises on the non-determination and demarcation of the interstate boundary, describing it as one of the volatile interstate boundaries in Nigeria with high risk of threat to peace.

“The crisis on the boundary necessitated the interventions of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Mr Atiku Abubakar, at different times. The Federal Government was also compelled to draft soldiers to the sectors of the boundary in 2005 to maintain peace.

“The commission’s efforts over the years had been to re-establish the boundary in accordance with available documents. These efforts resulted in the tracing and provisional demarcation of the boundary by a Joint Field Team on the boundary between 2000 and 2004,” he said.

The DG said that the fieldwork produced two claim lines representing the positions of the states, adding that the NBC reviewed the states’ claim lines and proposed a boundary line but was rejected by both states.

He added that while Ebonyi State accepted a segment of the proposed line, Cross River insisted that the boundary line must be in line with her claim.

He, however, said that the commission and the states’ subsequent efforts focused mainly on the restoration of peace to the warring communities of both states.

“Accordingly, the joint meetings of officials held in 2010, 2011 and 2013 resolved that peace committees be constituted at different levels to ensure the return of peace to the affected communities. This was to pave the way for further actions on the boundary, but sadly, the committees never functioned.

“The former Vice-President and Chairman of the National Boundary Commission, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, also intervened in February 2017 when he met with the governors of the two states. Unfortunately, the scheduled follow-up activities could not be implemented due to non-cooperation of the two states.

“In the wake of the unfortunate Ukelle/Izzi crisis of June 2018, the National Boundary Commission and the two states took prompt action by visiting the communities affected and agreed on actions to be taken,” he said.

Mr Adaji further said that the governors of the two states met in 2018, adding that a Joint Technical Committee of Experts equally met and resolved to pave the way for the return of peace to the affected communities.

“It is on this note that I welcome you once more to the meeting and appeal that we focus on the imperative of peace among the people. I urge us all to discuss the issues with every sense of commitment to supporting the commission’s effort towards the demarcation of the boundary,” he said.

Also speaking, Deputy Governor of Cross River, and Chairman of the State Boundary Committee, Peter Odey, acknowledged the impasse on the boundary dispute between the states.

Mr Odey expressed the readiness of the state to support ongoing efforts to bring the lingering dispute to a logical conclusion.

Similarly, Deputy Governor of Ebonyi, and Chairperson of the state Boundary Committee, Patricia Obila, commended NBC for the efforts to address the dispute.

Mrs Obila pledged the support of the Ebonyi government towards putting an end to the fracas among the states’ neighbouring communities.

(NAN)

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