…say Oku Iboku dispute has claimed over 300 lives since 2017
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to immediately set up a joint patrol team of the security agencies on the waterways to beef up security in the coastal areas.
The House mandated its Committees on Army, Navy, Police and Interior to collaborate with the government to realize the objective.
The call came on the heels of the ongoing killings, maiming and destruction of properties in Oku Iboku, Itu local government area of Akwa Ibom State.
The resolution however came through a motion by Hon. Henry Archibong at the plenary on the matter.
Moving the motion earlier, Archibong noted “that the people of Odukpani in Cross River State have been brutally killing and destroying the properties of the indigenes of Oku Iboku, a border town in Akwa Ibom State sharing boundary with Odukpani in Cross Rivers State.
He said that the “assailants regularly patrol the waterways with gunboats shooting sporadically at the fishermen and farmers in communities leaving many wounded by stray bullets, drowned or beheaded, thus scaring fishermen and the farmers from carrying out their farming activities”
He stated that “since 2017, over 300 people have been killed with their properties destroyed, and some cannibalized as shown in video footage from a phone that fell from one of the assailants during one of the invasions of Oku Iboku.”
According to the lawmaker, the regular patrol of the river bank and fishing settlements by the assailants, the affected communities and the people cannot access the river for their fishing activities and cannot also access their farmlands for their farming activities.
He added that the situation has brought untold hunger and hardship to the community, the Local Government and the State at large as “this part of Akwa Ibom State is a major food basket of the state.”
“People cannot access the river and their farmlands, which are their only source of the livelihood, they have fled their homes because of hunger and insecurity and are taking shelter in neighbouring villages.
“In January 2017, a motion of urgent public importance on the same issue was passed following which several meetings had been held between the two states but the crisis, rather than decrease, has assumed an unhealthy dimension that led to the loss of over 300 people from Oku Iboku.
“In 2015, the Supreme Court in a judgment demarcated the boundaries between the two states and therefore the tension and hostilities between the two states should have ceased”, the lawmaker recalled.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its Committees on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Refugees, the Emergency Management Disaster Preparedness Agency to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to send relief materials to the affected communities.