December 9, 2023

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Dealing With Communal Crisis In Cross River

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Conflicts between local communities in some parts of Cross River State. Sometime ago, there was communal war between the Bekwara and Ishibori people of Ogoja LGA. This was around 1993. In Etung local government area, Ajassor and Effraya communities have also gone to war over farmlands and boundary tussle. Also, the people of Abijang in Etung Local Government have engaged in battles with the Okuni people of Ikom local government area.

In Ikom, the Alesi in Ofutop and some Obubra communities have fought over land, while the Akam and Okuni, Akparabong and Bendeghe people in Ikom and Etung local government areas respectively, have also had their fair share of communal conflicts. In many cases, lives are lost, buildings razed and scores left homeless.

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From Akamkpa, the war between Ojor and Uyangha community in 2016 led to a lot of people fleeing their homes. In Obanliku local government, the crisis between Busi 1, Busi 2, Busi 3, Busi 5, and Busi 6 against Busi 4 community left scores dead with properties razed. In Biase, the Ufut and Ikot Ana people had been engaged in communal war, which was traced to dispute over farmlands. The list is endless.

How about the Boje and Nsadop communal clash which comes and goes, like Abiku? In 2016. Wula Mgaeshuo and Butatong fought over boundary in the forest. Beebo and Okwabang communities fought a few years back. There were killings and destruction of the Ikobi factory premises in Bateriko from where Beebo fighters allegedly camped before launching an attack on Okwabang. Biajua in Boki LGA and Abia village in Etung LGA also have a history of communal conflicts.

In all of this, it is the economy of those places that suffer. Government has always said that development cannot thrive in places where there are conflicts. Apart from lives that are usually lost to such crisis, government’s attention by way of development projects are shifted from such danger zones.

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Now that the state is a bit calm and the people getting ready for the next farming season, we believe it is the right time for the government to take steps to address some of the lingering issues connected to disputes over farmlands. Not taking that proactive action can cause the state lives and property. Also, waiting for the next clash to occur before making such moves should not be an option.

This is why we are calling on all relevant agencies of government, traditional rulers, religious leaders, and all security agencies to wake up and engage the various communities with history of disputes over farmlands. We believe that if this is done and all known land or border cases resolved, it would be the beginning of great things to happen to the state.

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