I have been pretty much saddened by the recent violent conflicts in the Bahumono nation in Abi Local Government Area in Cross River State of Nigeria, where I come from. It is regrettable that the lingering crises have so far led to unfortunate wanton losses of lives and property.
This situation, to say the leas,t is highly disturbing. It is just apt to note here briefly that the main remote cause of the conflict is dispute over land ownership; even though the immediate causes straddle politics, murder, criminality, falsehood, conspiracy and mutual suspicion. The land dispute in question is about 100 years old and has been the subject of several litigations and ancestral adjudication.
As state security adviser to then governor Liyel Imoke and the government of Cross River State between 2010 and 2015, I did the best I could to proactively manage the situation so that it did not fester and/ or result into bloodshed. I didn’t miss any opportunity to severally bring up the matter during my briefings at the State security council meetings. I also pursued and supported alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes. In that, I received official, moral and professional support from many.
Among those who supported my efforts besides the government then, were the then commandant of the armed forces command and staff college, Jaji, AVM (rtd) Eko Osim from Usumutong who like myself from Ediba are both of Bahumono extraction; the chiefs of Bahumono nation comprising seven towns and then Abi Local Government chairman, Francis Ettah also strongly supported my efforts. So did Eko Atu and others.
For my efforts, some of my own people in Ediba grossly misunderstood and even persecuted me. Usumutong people took me to court. I was petitioned severally by certain faceless characters. I was not spared from litigation by the Ebom community. Their problem with me was that I had brought the Ebijakara matter to front burner. Government had considered and approved my memo for the reconstruction and resettlement of the Ebijakara people who were sacked by the Ebom community from their ancestral home following violent clashes in 2016 – – to the extent that bids were advertised for the award of contracts for the reconstruction of Ebijakara and parts of Ebom. And now things are going awry for the worse in Bahumono. But for how long shall Bahumono continue on this pathway of conflicts and self destruct?
My plea: this bloodletting must stop forthwith. We cannot continue to lose our young people. Bahumono nation will remain in the backyard of development if we do not retrace our steps. I pray that the sincere fear of God and truth shall set us free. Need I say more? I can on reiterate that the most expensive peace is far cheaper than the cost of violent conflicts. May God help the Bahumono people.
Rekpene Bassey was State Security Adviser to former CRS governor, Liyel Imoke.
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