DEPUTY GOVERNORS SUE FOR PEACE IN C’RIVER-BENUE COMMUNITY CLASH

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The Deputy Governor of Cross River state, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey, has led a high-powered delegation to the Yache community in Yala Local Government, where a recent communal clash with their neighboring Benue State community has tragically resulted in the loss of a life. During his visit, the Deputy Governor engaged in discussions with his counterpart from Benue State, His Excellency, Dr. Sam Ode, at Ijegu, Yache. Expressing deep regret for the needless loss of life, Rt. Hon. Odey extended sympathies to those who suffered the loss of loved ones and property. He also reassured the community of government’s commitment to ending hostilities.

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, Rt. Hon. Odey 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.

In his address, Dr. Sam Ode, Deputy Governor of Benue State, conveyed the greetings of the Benue State Governor and emphasized the paramount importance of peace. He lauded Senator Steve Odey for his commendable leadership efforts within the community and expressed his deep disappointment over the unfortunate situation between communities that have historically coexisted as brothers. He stated, “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 be fished out and punished… I have come to extend a hand of fellowship and friendship to the people of Yache”. He assured the community that the government would do everything possible to provide solace to communities affected by the loss of lives and property.

The Deputy Governors were initially received at the residence of Senator Steve Odey, PhD, where they were briefed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr. Ini Johnson, and Senator Steve Odey, who had already made concerted efforts to mediate peace in the community before the arrival of security agencies. In response to Rt. Hon. Peter Odey’s inquiry about the root cause of the conflict, Dr. Sam Odey explained that the situation 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. This confrontation led to a loss of life.

Reiterating Senator Steve Odey’s stance, the Clan Head of Maa Clan, Mohie Isaac Omaji, stated in a prepared address that the perpetrators of this tragic event should face the full weight of the law. He clarified that this 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 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.

Rt. Hon. Peter Odey passionately 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. Odey 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.

The Paramount Ruler of Yala, His Royal Majesty, Amb. Ogamode Onah Ipuole, conveyed his gratitude through a representative for the timely visit of the Deputy Governors and the palliative contributions made to the community. He assured that Yala’s traditional rulers had been diligent in maintaining law and order, urging the Benue State Government to also engage their traditional rulers in efforts to restore peace between the two communities.

 

By Fred Abua