Lawmakers Petition NBC, NASS To Curb Loss Of Lives, Property In Ebonyi

By Agnes Nworie

 

The Lawmakers of Ebonyi state House of Assembly have  made official petition to the Federal Government through the National Boundaries Commission (NBC) and the National Assembly for prompt intervention through boundary demarcation to stop further lost of lives and property of people in the state.

This is sequel to the constant attacks, threats and invasion against Ekoli Edda Community in Afikpo South LGA and their Unwana counterpart in Afikpo North LGA both of Ebonyi State by people suspected to hail from their neighboring communities from Abanwan, Egbor and Ipene Communities in Biase LGA of Cross River State, hence the motion brought to the House by member representing Afikpo South West Hon. Nkemka Okoro -Onuma and his Afikpo North West counterpart Hon. (Mrs.) Lilian Eziuloh.

It is no news that Izzi, Ikwo, Onicha, Afikpo North and Afikpo South Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State share boundaries with Cross River State. Over the years, the history of farm settlement skirmishes has punctuated activities of various communities in these areas.

During this week’s plenary, the two lawmakers raised the 3-paged motion titled “Report on Constant Attacks and Threats of Invasion Against Ekoli Edda Community in Afikpo South LGA and Unwana Community in Afikpo North LGA of Ebonyi State by Unwanted Elements from Abanwan, Egbor and Ipene Communities in Biase LGA of Cross River State”, during matter of urgent public importance, urged the house to intervene promptly.

According to the motion, the trouble engulfing the region at the moment began in April, 2018 when the people of Egbor Community in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State unilaterally signed a Memorandum of Understanding with African Stone Investment Limited that mounted an oil mill in the area which authorised the firm to invest palm fruits from the Joint Palm Plantation without the consent of other host communities.

In such an understandable emotional mood, Hon. Okoro Onuma who is Chairman House Committee on Establishment and Donor Agencies, in presenting the matter, reported the invasion, killings and abduction of some people in Ekoli Edda while declaring that there is heightened tension in the area as a result of the crisis.

Hon. Nkemka Okoro Onuma spoke thus: “The latest onslaught is the attack on some people from Ekoli Edda who went to the farm at Ibuo Palm Plantation on 30th June, 2020. Seven persons were abducted namely, Ndukwe Okorafor, Paulina Ndukwe Okoroafor (Mrs), Sunday Ogbu Ama, Chinecherem Nnachi (Master), Ogbonne John (Mrs), Esther Ikwor (Mrs.) and Elizabeth Ikwor (Miss), respectively. Out of this number, Ndukwe Okorafor was shot and butchered to death. Only his dismembered waist was found and was later buried by the people of Ekoli Edda Community. It is still believed the six other persons are still alive in the custody of their abductors.

“There is palpable tension in Ekoli Edda today as the people no longer go to farm for fear of being attacked in view of the fact that two persons namely – Nmecha Ibe and Olughu Enworo Ude were at one time or the other in the past been killed by the same warriors with scores of others wounded”.

Supporting the motion, Hon. Chidi  Ejem Chairman House Committee on Solid Minerals   regretted the debacle which has claimed uncountable innocent lives and properties attributing it to the struggle over ownership of the defunct Erei Farm Settlement established in 1963 by the Dr. Michael Okpara administration of the former Eastern Region.

On his part, the Member representing Onicha West Constituency, Hon. Chukwuma Igwe implored the House to include in the prayer amendment, the attention of the Cross River State House of Assembly and Cross River State on the matter; his submission was accepted. The House as well called for the unconditional release of those abducted from Ekoli Edda.

The Honourable Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru welcomed the motion and the submissions of the members, hinted that peace is paramount for development and as leaders and representatives of the people, it is their responsibility to restore absolute peace to crisis-laden regions in the State.

“This motion is germane, exactly what our job is, to represent our people. It is better we provide solutions as leaders, solutions that will restore peace in our communities. I am challenging the leaders of the region to find a common ground in this matter and go for peaceful resolutions and sort out the issues.

“The recommendations in the motion are good, but distinguished colleagues, I think we should amend the prayer and include to write to National Boundaries Commission, the National Assembly, notifying them of the matter and the loss of lives and properties ensuing from the crisis. They should look into the matter and effect their powers of Section 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, because it is their duty as well to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation.”

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