Stakeholders in Itu, Uruan and Ibiono Ibom Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State, have decried the spate of incessant killings of members of their communities by hired mercenaries from neighboring Cross River State.
In a press briefing held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, over the weekend, the spokesperson of the group Dr. Ekong Demson, noted that at the instance of the National Boundary Commission, the government of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States represented by their deputy governors, security agencies and leaders of the affected communities in Itu and Odukpani LGAs, met on Tuesday July 11th 2017 at the former toll gate end of Itu bridge to sensitize the people and also explore prospects for a peaceful resolution of their lingering boundary crises.
The high point of the meeting was exchange of gifts between the government of the two states, traditional institution represented by the Paramount Rulers of Itu and Odukpani LGAs as well as the youth leaders. Group photographs were taken. This meeting was a pointer to the expected end of hostilities and wanton destruction of lives and properties.
The spokesman hinted that “in a surprise move, barely two days after the parley, the people of Ikot Offiong and hired mercenaries from Cross River State armed with sophisticated weapons attacked defenseless fishermen along the river in Itu, killing one Ifiok Ita Udoh Ekpo from Idu Uruan and seized several boats and fishing nets.”
The press conference became necessary to expose the fact that the people of Cross River State came into the peace meeting of last Tuesday with utmost bad faith and pretense.
“We recall that on the 19th of May 2017, seventeen (17) armed mercenaries from Cross River State were arrested by the Nigeria Army at the same location with sophisticated weapons and two 50kg bags of ammunition but were surprisingly released.”
“We are not unmindful of the fact that key functionaries of Cross River State origin, both at the state and federal levels are neck deep in the sponsorship of this mayhem on the peace loving people of Akwa Ibom State, who are law abiding and engaging in lawful economic activities in their territory” , the spokesman reiterated.
The stakeholders therefore called on the Federal Government through the National Boundary Commission to investigate and bring the culprits to book, otherwise, they will be left with no option than to resort to self-help.”
In attendance were stakeholders from the three Local Government Itu Distinguished Senator Anietie Okon, Hon. Akan Okon, Prof Okon Ansa, Elder Edetdet Ekanem, Dr. Ekong Demson, Otuekong Ini Antia, representatives from Uruan Rt. Hon. (Obong) Ekpe Atakpo, Mr. Okon Okon, Hon Anietie Bassey, Engr J. B Effiong, Hon. Awawa Ekaenang, those from Ibiono are Dr. Hon. Iniobong Essien, Chief Isaac Onoson.