It was tales of woes as the Usaka Ukwu and Azuncchai communities of Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State counted their dead in the hands of their Akwa Ibom neighbours over a land dispute.
Addressing newsmen on Monday, stakeholders from the area including traditional rulers, the local government Chairman, Chief Steven Mpamaugo, President Generals, Chairmen of Development Associations among others lamented that between May 2020 and January 22, 2021, 16 Usaka Ukwu and four Azunchai people were killed by their Nkari neighbours of Ini and Oboto Akara LGA in Akwa Ibom State.
According to Usaka Ukwu people, three of the army personnel who were in the area to broker peace were attacked and wounded by the Akwa Ibom people who also allegedly took their vehicle and riffles, adding that one of the hospitalised soldiers had died.
The President General of Usaka Ukwu, Chief B.C Mgbaramuko, disclosed that the “greedy expansionist objective” of the Akwa Ibom people with the support of their state government had even “surveyed our land where the Army from the Ohafia military Command established a checkpoint.”
According to him, farming activities in the area had stopped over fears that there could be further attacks by their Akwa Ibom neighbours. He pleaded with the National Boundary Commission to step in for “proper delineation of the original boundaries” and called on the Akwa Ibom Government to compensate the families of those killed by its people between May 2020 and January 2021.
They also sought the establishment of police/military checkpoints at all strategic spots and called on the Abia State Government to step up its commitment in settling the matter with its Akwa Ibom State counterpart through the National Boundary Commission.
But the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu has seriously warned that his government will not yield an inch of Abia territory to neighbouring states with expansionist agenda, stating that his administration shall use every lawful means to protect and safeguard every inch of the territory of Abia State.
The Governor stated that he responded to distress calls from the community on the invasion of their homeland by hoodlums from a neighbouring community in Akwa, adding that the lingering boundary dispute is before the National Boundaries Commission and “until a final determination is made, the area remains in Abia State”.
All efforts to get the Army PRO in the state, Major Kadiri, to react proved abortive as phone calls and text messages put across to him have not been responded to.