Abia and Ebonyi move to resolve boundary disputes
A joint meeting between officials of Abia and Ebonyi states to resolve disputes along their mutual boundary held last week in Umuahia and after a long deliberation that touched every aspect, noted seven issues to be addressed and adopted twelve resolutions.
The meeting which was presided over by the Director General of the National Boundary Commission (NBC), Dr Mohamad Ahmad and attended by the Deputy-Governors of the two states, Ude Oko Chukwu (Abia) and Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi) as well as the Director of Internal Boundaries at the NBC, Adamu Adaji, representative of the Surveyor-General of the Federation, E. C Nnamani, his counterparts in the two states, Anthony Ivonye (Abia) and Ban Ogah (Ebonyi) among others, featured addresses by Ahmad and the two Deputy-Governors.
In his welcome address, the host, Oko Chukwu commended the NBC for urgently intervening on the boundary dispute noting that the disagreements were induced by the presence of mineral resources and quests for farmlands.
His Ebonyi counterpart, Igwe, who also commended the NBC’s untiring effort, stressed that his state attaches priority attention to boundary issues and called on the meeting to discuss all issues dispassionately.
He recalled the agreements of a similar meeting held last year expressing regret that the field work could not be undertaken due to unforeseen circumstances and further demarcation of the sectors of the disputed boundary even as he reported that the recent incident at the Ummunneochi/Ivo sector was promptly attended to by the two states.
He noted that the agreements reached are to be considered by the meeting to which he pledged his state’s readiness and cooperation towards amicable definition of the boundary.
In his opening remark, Ahmad lauded what he called the recent show of statesmanship by the two states at dousing the tension as he called on the youths to join their elders in suing for peace that would enhance coexistence.
While the commission’s brief on the boundary presented by the office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation intimated the meeting about previous efforts on the issue which was assessed to be about 20 percent of the definition process, NBC called on the meeting to consider the recommendations of the 2014 meeting and take all the factors into consideration in fixing feasible time-line for the outstanding fieldwork.
The trio of Surveyor-General of the Federation and his Abia and Ebonyi Counterparts agreed that though the relevant documents for use on the boundary have been identified and screened, the expected fieldwork had not been undertaken and they indicated their readiness for the fieldwork.
In this regard, the meeting noted that recent problems in the Umunneochi/Ivo sector of the boundary was the result of conflicting claims of the two states’ border communities and that the two states promptly intervened and agreed on measures to be taken by the Police and the affected communities.
According to the twelve-point post-meeting communiqué, which was jointly signed by the two Deputy-Governors and the NBC DG and made available to The Guardian, the meeting resolved that major stakeholders shall continue to encourage good neighborliness through proper information dissemination and sustain the relative peace on the boundary through joint utilization of the border resources of both states by the border communities.
It also resolved that four copies of any additional delimitation documents may be submitted to the NBC on or before 30th of August 2015 for the fieldwork as appropriate while three technical experts of both states made up of the Surveyors-General and two other persons shall come to Abuja for the delineation of the boundary in accordance with already and accepted document from 1st -4th September, 2015.
Other resolution of the meeting are that the Police should release all detained people from both states to aid the return of normalcy to the troubled areas just as the security agents should, in conjunction with the affected communities, investigate the reported case of a missing Chukwuma Akwa of Ivo LGA of Ebonyi.
The meeting also resolved that the two state governments, chairmen of affected local councils and traditional rulers shall carry out joint enlightenment campaign in the affected areas prior to and during the period of the field exercise and beyond and finally that the status quo shall be maintained until the boundary is properly defined.