The Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, has accused his Cross River State counterpart, Ben Ayade, of frustrating efforts aimed at ending boundary clashes between their border communities.
At a briefing in Abakaliki on Sunday, Mr. Umahi’s spokesperson, Emmanuel Uzor, said Mr. Ayade had rebuffed concerted efforts for a meeting to resolve the crisis.
He called on the Federal Government and the National Boundary Commission to intervene in the boundary dispute between Ofioji, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi and Ijutun-Idoru community of Obubura Local Government Area of Cross River State.
A recent outbreak of the crisis on Friday led to the death of eight persons, including a pregnant woman.
Mr. Uzor said Mr. Umahi was being blackmailed by the people of Cross River over the resumption of hostilities simply because he asked the Chief of Army Staff to deploy more soldiers to the troubled area.
“The governor had made efforts to speak with the Cross River governor and the peace committee chaired by the Deputy Governor also made similar efforts to bring lasting peace to the troubled areas but it is disturbing and disheartening how lives are being wasted.
“Governor Ayade had once agreed on a date to meet the governor only to cancel it at the last minute,” he said.
“The governor only drew the attention of the Chief of Army Staff to increase the number of soldiers in the area to help quell the matter and a few days after that some elements invaded Izzi communities, killing and maiming people and destroying properties.
“The governor made demand based on his conviction on the ability of the soldiers to quell the matter but one former Cross River lawmaker from the area accused the governor of sponsoring the crisis. This is cheap blackmail especially coming from the same man who was indicted for sponsoring similar communal crises in the past.
Mr. Uzor said the Ebonyi governor was saddened that his people were being
killed in the dispute.
“The governor is sending a message, let us dialogue and make peace with the communities. The federal government should come into the matter to nip the wanton destruction of lives and property in the bud,” he added.
But Governor Ayade denied the accusation by his Ebonyi counterpart, describing it as untrue and unfunded.
Reacting to the allegation, his Chief Press Secretary, Christian Italian, described Mr. Ayade as a peace-loving man who will do everything in his power to ensure peace is restored to the troubled areas.