Dr Bakut Bakut, Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) on Tuesday urged communities in Cross River and Ebonyi fighting over boundary issues to sheath their swords and embrace peace.
Bakut gave the advice in Abuja in a speech at a stakeholders roundtable organised by the institute to resolve the protracted conflicts bedeviling the various communities in the two states.
The theme of the roundtable is “Sustainable Solutions on the Boundary Disputes/Conflicts Between Cross River and Ebonyi states.”
The director-general told the stakeholders who were selected from the two states that the roundtable was informed by the recurring conflicts and their changing dynamics, stressing that the trend was no longer acceptable.
Bakut said: “The losses in both human and material ramifications as a result of these age-long conflicts that span more than 100 years in some cases, have been enormous, unimaginable, and embarrassing.
“This is no longer acceptable, hence this enlarged stakeholders’ meeting cutting across government officials, traditional rulers, town union/opinion leaders, women/youth leaders, and security agencies, among others connected with finding solutions to such hydra-headed conflicts.
“It is important that we all see the need to resolve these conflicts and live as one.
“It is important we all resolve at this roundtable not to be involved in violent conflicts again.
“It is important we come up with a resolution and communique on the way forward for a peaceful coexistence of people in these areas.”
Bakut noted that disagreements on issues were bound to occur between, or among human beings, hence conflicts were inevitable.
He said the most important thing, however, was for such disagreements not to degenerate to violence.
The DG who attributed the conflicts to the struggle for land resource control admonished the stakeholders not to resort to violence in their quest for the control of scarce resources.
He urged the governors of the two states and the National Boundary Commission as key players to determining and demarcating the disputed boundaries to urgently do the needful with a view to resolving the conflicts.
“We all were born to meet the land and will certainly die leaving behind the land for generations yet unborn.
“The purpose of land is for it to be used to take care of the living. Why then should we want to die for land instead of using it for sustenance?
“We need not take laws into our hands and be the judge in our own cases. We, therefore, need to bring our various claims to the table for peaceful options and resolutions,” Bakut added.
The Director-General, National Boundary Commission, Mr Adamu Adaji, in his address at the event, urged the warring communities to embrace the spirit of compromise and give-and-take, which he said were key to resolving their disputes.
Adaji also noted that there were elements of criminality in the conflicts between the communities in the two states, stressing that security agencies should decisively deal with the criminal elements by fishing them out for peace to reign.
Also speaking, Dr Garba Abari, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, represented by Barrister Celestine Obot, challenged the stakeholders to ensure that the conflicts were resolved in their own time.
“There is no alternative to peace because, without peace, there can no development anywhere in the world,” Abari said.
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