ASABA/Nigeria: The Deputy Governor of Delta State, Deacon Kingsley Burutu Otuaro has called on Delta communities having border disputes with Edo State to continue to keep faith with the Government of Delta State which he says is doing everything possible to remedy the situation.
The communities involved are Eku, Okpara, Abraka and Igu in Ethiope East, Obiaruku and Umutu in Ukwuani and Abavo in Ika South Local Government Areas.
The Deputy Governor who played host to the affected communities in Unity Hall, Government House Asaba said, “The interstate boundary challenges we are having between Delta State and Edo state for over the years, I believe it has come to a height where we need to review and take on some of the critical issues with the view to restoring peace and social harmony amongst our communities and between communities in the other divide in Edo state as well as those companies in the boundary line.”
Deacon Otuaro explained that in 2016, they had a meeting between the technical committee of Delta State Boundary Committee headed by himself and that of Edo State and the National Boundary Commission and the Surveyor General of the federation.
According to the deputy governor, the meeting had far reaching agreement to maintain status quo and planned delineation of boundary lines between the two States.
He said both states sent memorandum each to the National Boundary Commission but for bureaucratic challenges that made it challenging for the National Boundary Commission to come in for the proper delineation as required by law.
“It seems to us, that the delay occasioned from doing the delineation had caused a lot of boundary problems along the boundary lines, it is against that back drop we have course to write to the Edo state government and without prejudice to what the National boundary Commission needs to do as in delineating the boundary lines, but there have been a lot of insecurity challenges in these boundary lines occasioned by the companies, especially Presco working along that line, intimidating, harassing and arresting leaders of various communities along that line” the deputy governor stated.
He continued, “That is very unhealthy for harmonious relationship between the two States, so we spoke with our counterparts in Edo state and thought it wise to deepen engagement with them, so that we can find what possibly I can call a tentative solution in relation to making peace and law and order along those lines until such a time that the National Boundary Commission avail the opportunity to come and do that, that is their statutory requirement to do.”
He said further that all stakeholders would be meeting in Benin city soon for same issue just as he encouraged all the communities along the boundary lines to be rest assured of the Delta State Government protection, noting, “We are not unaware of the challenges our people are actually passing through along the boundary lines between Delta and Edo state and we are committed to availing our communities our protections.”
Representatives of the various communities which took turns to make their presentation lamented the harrowing experiences they had been passing through in the hands of security operatives sent from neighbouring Edo companies, such as Presco PLC.
They explained that their ancestral lands which they have been using for farming and other activities since creation, from the then Bendel State had been taken over by Presco while many of their people had either been killed in the process, maimed or incarcerated at various prisons in Edo state.
The members representing Ethiope East at the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Evans Iwhure and his Ukwuani counterpart, Hon. Aphousus Ojo who addressed journalists after the meeting, decried the sorrow state of their people whom they said had suffered terrible pains from Presco Company.
Hon. Iwhure said that many of their youths including the elderly had been sent to jail at Oko Prison after men of the Nigeria Police Force from zone 5 came to the communities to arrest them with flimsy excuses.
“It is the company that usually destroys our farm lands, buildings, shrines, etc. while killing our people with impunity through their agents , the zone 5 police” he stated.
The former Chairman of the Ethiope East Local Government Area, Hon. Sunday Onoriode, who also spoke to journalists, said that it was high time the Federal Government and other agencies responsible for the boundary delineation came to their rescue.
He said that the situation had caused untold hardship to his people whose farm land at Abraka including his many hectares of palm trees had been taken over by Presco PLC.