By Douglas Okoro
Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has urged all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the state taking refuge in Ebonyi to return home, assuring that their safety would be guaranteed.
Ayade made the call on Monday at Nguzu Edda in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi when he led a 10-man delegation to visit IDP camps at various locations in Edda.
The governor, who was represented by Mr Nicholas Odum, the Paramount Ruler from Biase Local Government Area of Cross River, interacted with the IDPs and officials of the Afikpo council.
“We want to assure you that peace has returned and that our efforts will not be in vain for you to come and live in peace in your homes.
“As the Paramount Ruler and Ononodum of Biase LGA, who have led this team to Afikpo South LGA, in Ebonyi is giving you my words that peace has returned to the crisis affected areas and that you have nothing to fear again.
“We have made every arrangement for you to return and whatever you tell us here, I will personally make sure I relay to the Governor. So, we ask you to be calm and be lawful in this move; as we assure you we will not let you down,” Ayade said.
The governor also thanked Eni-Uduma Chima, Chairman of Afikpo South LGA and the good people of Ekoli Edda for their magnanimity to the IDPs.
Addressing the delegation, Chima said although the matter was already being handled at the state levels, the people of Ekoli Edda were one with those in Biase LGA, of Cross River.
He said that all efforts would be made to ensure the return of the IDPs to their homes, adding that all stakeholders should join hands to achieve this.
Chima said: “You know that this issue is both intra and inter and we are not here today to deal with the issue as it concerns us because it’s already being handled at the state levels.
‘In fact, we hold joint meetings with the Chairman of Ohafia LGA of Abia state; but like you said we are in the best position to make suggestions, we are like people living in the house, where the roof leaks, we should know.
Bishop Frank Uwali, spokesman for Urugban IDPs welcomed the delegation and prayed to God to grant the team the enabling strength and wisdom to carry out the assignment to logical conclusion.
“As far as you and your team remain sincere, faithful and committed to the essence of this peace mission, we assure you of our unalloyed support and cooperation throughout the period of assignment,” Uwali said.
There has been an intra- and inter-communal land dispute between the people of Egbor and Urugabm in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River and their neighbours in Ekoli Edda community, in the Afikpo South.
The conflict which started in April 2018 reportedly claimed many lives, led to destruction of over 70 houses with thousands displaced from their homes.
Displaced persons are taking refuge in communities in Afikpo South and Ohaozara Local Government Areas in Ebonyi and Abia states respectively.