Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has urged Ishiagu Community of Ivo Local Government Area of the state to cease farming on the disputed land with Lokpanta community of Umunneochi LGA of Abia.
Akelicious recalls that the age-long land dispute between both communities came into focus on May 30, when two indigenes of Ishiagu were allegedly shot by Lokpanta indigenes as both sides abducted hostages.
Umahi, represented by his Deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, gave the advice on Tuesday while addressing the Ishiagu people, urging its traditional ruler to prevail on his subjects to cease farming on the disputed land.
“We realise that this is rainy season and people will engage in farm work but of what need will it be to plant and others will reap the proceeds.
“There is no gain to farm and in the process, you get shot and killed while other people still reap from the farm.
“I will call the deputy governor of Abia immediately to prevail on the Lokpanta people to cease further attacks on our people in keeping with the peace pact reached by both parties,” he said.
The governor said that overcoming the temptation of farming on the land would prove to the National Boundary Commission (NBC) that its peace directive reached in 2016 was still being complied with.
“It is true that the Coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on most part of 2020 but we will still activate the process for the NBC to permanently demarcate the boundary to ensure permanent peace.
“We know that the ownership of the land is not in dispute but continue maintaining your peace as true owners of the land,” he said.
He commended the people for shunning reprisal attacks despite the provocation and assured them that the state government would not watch ‘intruders and strangers’ possess their land.
HRH Moses Ngene, Traditional Ruler of Ishiagu thanked the governor for the visit and assured him that he would continue to restrain his people even though it was difficult.
“When our people were attacked on their way to the farm, we remembered the governor’s injunction that we should not retaliate and we held our youths from doing so.
“We seek a permanent resolution to the issue because we are convinced that the land belongs to us and farming is our means of livelihood,” he said.
SP Dan Nwonu, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Ivo division, said that he called for reinforcements when he received the report of the shooting of two people from Ishiagu on their way to the farm
“I rushed both of them to the hospital where they are currently receiving treatment and when the reinforcement from the police headquarters Abakaliki arrived, we stormed the disputed area.
“I learnt that the Lokpanta people were holding an Ishiagu man hostage and I called the DPO of that area to ensure the safety of the hostage.
“I also ensured the safety of the Lokpanta hostage held by the Ishiagu youths and when my colleague in Abia safely brought and handed the Ishiagu hostage to me, I equally handed the Lokpanta hostage safely to him,” he said.
Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, Caretaker Chairman of Ivo LGA, thanked the governor for the visit and called for a lasting solution to the age-long land dispute.