PROTESTING women from Isopong 1 and 2 in Obubura Local Government Area of Cross River on Wednesday appealed for peace over boundary crisis.
The women appealed to the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, to end the crisis that had wreaked havoc on their community.
The women, who were in tears, carried 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’’, among others.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during the protest, the leader of the group, Mrs Beatrice Ibiyang, said they travelled to Calabar to protest for peace.
The boundary crisis is between Isopong communities in Cross River and Izzi, Nyimagu communities in Ebonyi.
Ibiyang said 11 villages had been burnt down since the crisis erupted in 2017, and this year alone they had lost over 20 people to the crisis.
She said all forms of commercial activities, including schools, in Isopong communities had been crippled and consequently rendered the people poor, hungry and homeless.
However, Ibiyang noted that though the military had been deployed to the area to restore normalcy, but they could do little.
According to her, the military would always insist that they must be given orders before they take action even when the crisis raged.
“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.
“About 11 villages have been burnt down since this war started, this year alone we have lost over 20 people because of this war; meanwhile our people now live in the bushes for their safety,’’ she said.
Similarly, another member of the group, Mrs Philomena Ekpo, said that traditional rulers have tried their best to ensure that peace reign in the community but to no avail.
Ekpo explained that this forced the women to adopt the street protests and cry to the governor for peace.
“We need peace so that we can go back to our normal lives and our children can go back to school,’’ she said.
Responding, the governor commended the women for being peaceful in their protest.
Ayade, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary on Security, Dr Alfred Mboto, said the government had heard their cries and would take steps at restoring peace to the community.
He said agencies like the State Emergency Management Agency would be asked to provide some level of succour to the people.
On the military presence in the communities, Mboto said much of the destruction recorded in the affected communities were perpetrated in areas without military presence at the time.
He said that the army cannot be everywhere at the same time, they would be in places 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,’’ the governor said.
NAN reports that the crisis between the two neighbouring communities of Ebonyi and Cross River states had lasted for over two years with several lives and properties lost. (NAN)
– July 10, 2019 @ 14:47 GMT |