Communal Clash: Usumutong, Ebom, Ebijakara Communities Seek Permanent Peace To Prolonged Disputes

By Beatrice Akpala, SSA Communication and Advocacy 

It is no longer news the recurring communal clashes of over fourteen years between Usumutong, Ebom and Ebijakara Communities of Bahumono tribe in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State.

Representatives of the three disputing communities have called on the State Government to wade into the matter as they are all set to embrace peace and peaceful coexistence.

They made this position known in yet another reconciliatory meeting set up by the State Government between the stakeholders of the three communities and members of some security apparatus in the State.

Speaking at the meeting which held at the Council of Chiefs' Chambers Governor's Office Calabar, the convener and Permanent Secretary Special Services, Dr. Alfred Mboto  urged speakers from each villages to avoid the use of provocative words while speaking, as the meeting is intended to arrive at a consensus on the way forward on how to restore peace to the troubled areas.             Dr Mboto further Stated that Government will do all within her powers to implement  recommendations made to the letter, he however, blamed the traditional institution for not stepping into the matter the way they should have, adding that majority of the crimes perpetrated are carried out by unguarded youths who have been tolerated and protected over the years.

Also speaking, the State Security Adviser for  Central, Mr. Ransome Odey, while trying to pacify the already building tensions, advised all parties involved to sheathe their swords and embrace peace, adding that land is an umerited gift from God, and therefore shedding of anyone's blood for it is an "act of Ingratitude."

He also expressed his worry over the failure of the traditional institutions which he said "is fast decaying," adding that "communal disputes are first the failure of traditional institutions, which was considered as the first form of social control institution."

He therefore called on the traditional rulers to speak to their youths, warning them of the dangers involved in killing a human being or destroying properties, with sanctions of  barnishment.

On the way forward, some of the recommendations made by representatives from the three communities were :

1, The three disputing communities resolved to end hostilities and embrace peace forthwith  2,The three communities agreed to forgive themselves irrespective of whatever must have transpired between them. 3, Ebijakara People will be resettled at a place agreed by all with a buffer zone between Ebom and the place of resettlement

4, "That the state Government should extend the social housing scheme to Ebijakara and Ebom.                             

5,Ebijakara people Should Stop attacking Ebom community.   6,That Government should Implement the white paper on Ebom and Ebijakara Crisis, as well as that of Usumutong and Ediba land Crisis.  Meanwhile, the Spokesperson for Ebom, Elder Robert Etu
faulted the State Government for not keeping to her side of the agreement. He said that Governor Ben Ayade In many fora has said categorically that if anyone from any of the communities picks up arms against his follow brothers that such a person will be arrested and prosecuted. But for whatever reason Governor Ayade has failed to fulfill his promise by "not arresting and prosecuting the actual culprits fuelling the persistent crisis as he had threatened "

He finally submitted that although they are ready to receive back the Ebijakara people however, a clear boundary line be made to avoid future occurrences of encroachment.

Also, the leader of the Ebijakara delegation, Engineer Linus Etu submitted; "That the unconditional release of two boys in detention from Ebijakara community must be enforced.

Speaking, The Security representatives charged warring communities to avoid unnecessary outbreak of war and embrace dialogue at all times, stating that "societal development is stalled when there is ongoing war."
A joined peace and reconciliatory Committee was constituted with membership drawn from the three communities and coordinated by the state security adviser central. The committee was charged with the responsibility of driving the peace and reconciliatory process.

In conclusion, the Convener, Dr. Mboto thanked all three communities present who attended the strategic meeting to dialogue towards achieving permanent peace in the three respective Communities. He categorically promised  to reach out again to them as soon as a final decision is reached by the State Government on the disputing communities.

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