The governments of Cross River and Benue States have called on their people to live in peace by eschewing rancour over land ownership.
The deputy governors, Peter Odey and Sam Ode of Cross River and Benue States, respectively, met on Wednesday over the recent boundary clash which left one man from Yache community dead and several properties and farms destroyed.
They led high-powered delegations from their states to Ijegu in Yache community in Yala Local Government, Cross River State, where they engaged in discussions for peace and forgiveness.
Odey emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and adhering to the law.
Expressing deep regret for the needless loss of life, he extended sympathies to those who lost loved ones and property. He also reassured the community of the government’s commitment to ending hostilities.
He was accompanied by key officials including the State Surveyor-General, State Security Advisers, Director-General of the State Emergency Management Agency, and Permanent Secretary, Exco Chamber and Conflict.
Odey, a native of Yache, conveyed his sadness that his inaugural visit to his kinsmen following his election victory was marked by mourning instead of celebration.
He emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and adhering to the law.
He appealed for peace, pledging to return to the community to celebrate prosperity and not to mourn, while assuring that the bereaved family would receive government support. He invited the Clan Head and Chiefs of the affected communities to a meeting in his office to sign a peace accord. He advised community members to avoid the conflict zone until the peace accord is ratified, and promised approval of a security vote to cover for the deployment of additional personnel to the area.
Similarly, Deputy Governor of Benue State, Ode conveyed the greetings of the Benue State Governor and emphasized the paramount importance of peace.
He expressed his deep disappointment over the unfortunate situation between communities that have historically coexisted as brothers.
“The Governor of Benue State has directed me to inform you that all of our people who are remotely or directly involved in this crisis will be identified, fished out and punished.
“I have come to extend a hand of fellowship and friendship to the people of Yache,” he said.
He assured the community that the government would do everything possible to provide solace to communities affected by the loss of lives and property.
He explained that the fracas was not a dispute over land ownership, but rather a tragic incident stemming from a confrontation between an Ijegu community member and Tiv neighbors who were cultivating the land.
Clan Head of Maa Clan, Mohie Isaac Omaji, stated in a prepared address that the perpetrators of the tragic event should face the full weight of the law.
According to him, it was not a communal clash but a landlord-tenant disagreement.
“The Tiv tenants, who had previously issued threats and engaged in violent acts against members of the Ijegu community, orchestrated the crisis in an attempt to seize the land,” he said.
He requested enhanced security presence in the vicinity, immediate apprehension of those responsible, and urged the government to facilitate a peaceful resolution.
He also announced that the community would no longer consider the land for separate settlement, but instead embrace cohabitation with their Tiv neighbors to foster social integration.
The Paramount Ruler of Yala, His Royal Majesty, Amb. Ogamode Onah Ipuole, assured that Yala’s traditional rulers had been diligent in maintaining law and order.
He urged the Benue State Government to also engage their traditional rulers in efforts to restore peace between the two communities.