Akwa Ibom State Government said it is determined to ensure that the 14-year-old boundary dispute between the Amazaba group of villages in Eastern Obolo local government and Ikot Akpan Udo in Ikot Abasi local government area of the state is resolved before the end of the administration.
The communal crises which erupted in 2008 had resulted in wanton destruction of property, and the displacement of the two communities.
The state deputy governor, Moses Ekpo, stated this on Wednesday while addressing traditional rulers of the two communities, local government chairmen, and a cross section of government functionaries.
Ekpo said peaceful resolution of the crisis was very dear to the Governor Udom Emmanuel led administration as it had been elevated to a critical aspect of the administration’s Completion Agenda, adding that no stone would be left unturned to ensure the the displaced people return to their abode.
He said the state government had issued a White Paper and set up a White Paper Implementation committee made up of Commissioners in relevant project ministries to anchor the restoration of a lasting peace as well as resettlement program for the two communities.
According to him, “The stage is now set for the communities to collaborate with government in activating the next phase of the restoration process.
“The phase will involve organizing a joint religious solemn Assembly service as a platform to deepen social integration among the people while committees on Health, Education, Security, Local Government, etc, will be formed by the communities to partner the inter- ministerial committee in the development of schools, hospitals, and other social infrastructure in the affected areas.”
Ekpo stressed that given the current security situation in the country, it would be suicidal to direct the people to return to their affected area now, until adequate security is guaranteed including the establishment of a fully equipped Police Station in the area.
He, therefore, called on the two communities to continue to maintain the peace and abide by their recent commitment to peace-building, assuring that the Udom Emmanuel administration was fully committed to ensuring their safe return to the area when the current process is completed.
The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Uko Udom, SAN, who is the Sub-committee Chairman for the Inter-ministerial Committee, described the meeting as a huge success as it further reinforced the believe that the two communities were really interested and wholeheartedly committed to peace.
He, therefore, urged the communities to fully cooperate with the committee’s work in order to fast-track the process of reintegration and achieve the much needed success.
At the meeting, the two Paramount Rulers, Local Government Chairmen, Village Heads and other relevant stakeholders pledged their preparedness to cooperate with the committee to ensure the successful implementation of the government White Paper.
The meeting was attended by the Local Government Chairmen of Ikot Abasi, Mr. Joshua Afia; and his Eastern Obolo counterpart, Mr. Abraham Odion; the Paramount Ruler of Ikot Abasi, Edidem Udo Joe Ntuk Obom; and his Eastern Obolo counterpart, Ubon Harry Etetor, amongst others.