The deputy governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ivara Esu, on behalf of the state government, on Monday, undertook assessment and on-the-spot visit to warring communities in Erei Clan, Biase local government area of Cross River State.
Speaking during the visit, Prof. Ivara Esu restated government’s commitment to bringing lasting peace to the affected communities. He expressed sadness over the attack on Egbor community by Ugwelu Ekoli Eda people of Ebonyi State, who were said to have allegedly connived with Urugbam community in Erei South to visit mayhem on Egbor, still in Erei, earlier this month, resulting to lose of lives and properties, including damage to farm crops.
The deputy governor described people in the area as brothers who have common ancestral lineage and therefore sued for peace among them. He however vowed that the state government will deal decisively with any group of persons found in the habit of formenting trouble in the clan.
Prof. Esu thanked Ipene and other communities who took in the displaced people of Egbor, saying what they have done is a sign of the unity that ought to have exist in the clan, which if sustain, is capable of scaring away whoever that may be contemplating an attack on any of the communities. He also admonished the people to stop peddling the rumour that the Ebonyi State Government is arming people to cause war, saying no responsible government can do such thing. Prof. Esu therefore promised to meet with his Ebonyi State counterpart to seek ways to addressing the crisis.
While advising the communities against carryingout any reprisal attack, he urged them not to isolate Urugbam people, but take them as their brothers.
”I want to use this opportunity to thank the Ipene community, to thank the Umuolor community, to thank Obum, Etana and all the communities that help to shelter their brothers
and sisters. That is what we should do. I’m sure that if any enemy sees that we are all together they will be afraid of us. They ‘ll not be able to come in.
”I don’t want anybody to keep peddling the rumour that the Ebonyi State Government is arming some people to attack you. Ebonyi State Government is not. I can tell you that. They are not arming anybody to fight anybody. No responsible government will arm its people to go and fight another people.
”I don’t want anybody to plan any revenge attack. Don’t go on any revenge attack. That’s why we have a government. That’s why we have the security forces. I promise you anytime there is an attempt to attack you, we ‘ll make sure we send the security agencies around.”, Prof. Esu said.
Delivering an address from the entire Erei Clan, Dr Ogban Ogban Iyam, explained that the crisis all started when the people of Egbor leasted out their Palm Plantation to a company known as African Stone Works Limited. The leasting of the Palm Plantation, he said, did not go down well with Ugwelu Ekoli Eda of Ebonyi State, which led to skirmishes, arrest and disruption of the operation of African Stone Limited. This development, according to Dr Iyam, eventually led to the connivance of Ugwelu and Urugbam people of Erei South to attack Egbor community on 4th July, 2018, leading to the dead of two persons, destruction of houses and a caterpillar belonging to African Stone Limited.
He said the attack caused the internal displacement of Egbor and other villages. He therefore appealed to the state government for the establishment of a military post in the area to forestall further attacks on the communities.
Meanwhile, in another townhall meeting with the people of Urugbam, Erei, the Elders Council, in a statement, debunked the allegation that Urugbam people connived with Ugwelu to attack Egbor. They said the Palm Plantation unilaterally leasted out by Egbor community is in dispute, with several communities laying claim to it.
an enlarged meeting involving all parties concerned was held and it was resolved that African Stone Works Limited should stay action on the Palm Plantation until all issues regarding its ownership are addressed. But in spite of the resolution, African Stone still went ahead to commence operation on the said Palm Plantation. This, they said, was the genesis of the current crisis in the area.
Responding, the deputy governor appealed for calm, assuring them that the state government will set up a commission of inquiry to thoroughly look into the issues with a view to coming up with workable approaches in addressing them.
Prof. Ivara Esu was accompanied on the visit by member respresenting Biase State Constituency at the State House of Assembly, Hon. Ogbor Ogbor; commissioner for ICT, Mr Ofu Aya; Head of Local Government Administration, Biase, Mrs Oma Ekefere; paramount ruler of Biase, Onun(Apostle) Nicolas Odum; Biase PDP chapter chairman, Mr Austin Aidam; director general of SEMA, represented by the director of Administration, Mr Andy Okpoti; Prof. Owai; commissioner 5 in the local government service commission, Mrs Ada Charles Egwu; the DPO of Biase, CSP Bassey Obeten and the Akamkpa area commander, ACP Nadell Gumwok.
Relief materials such as food items, toiletaries and clothings were presented to the displaced persons by the deputy governor on behalf of the state government.