Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River State

Ayade, aide cry out as fighting continues in Ebonyi, C’River communities

NEWS DIGEST–Fighting has continued between the people of Ukelle in Cross River State and Izzi in Ebonyi State over a boundary dispute.

The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, raised the alarm over the renewed fighting on Monday and called on the Nigerian Air Force to join hands with the state government to restore peace in the affected areas.

Ayade, while addressing the Air Officer Commanding Mobility Command, Peter Uzezi, at the Government House, Calabar, said, “I received a text that there is a full-fledged war between Cross River and Ebonyi going on right now around the Izzi, Ebonyi and Ukelle, Cross River areas. Lives are being lost; they are firing and killing, even as arson is taking place there right now.”

The state Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, John Ulafor, who comes from Ukelle, told our correspondent on Tuesday, “Ebonyi people are attacking us unprovoked. They are shooting from different directions.

“Sometimes, they shift towards Obubra; on another day, they will shift towards Benue. Fighting is still going on. Soldiers are there, but the fight is taking place in the bush. We have gone to Abuja and to Port Harcourt to meet and resolve the crisis to no avail. The situation is still the same.”

On the number of casualties and houses burnt, he said he did not have the details.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo, declined to speak on the crisis.

On Monday, the governor also spoke about the crisis between the Osokpong community in Obubra, Cross River State, and its neighbours in Ebonyi State, and appealed to the air force to deploy helicopters to put in the affected areas.

“I have also spoken to the Commander, 13 Brigade, to move his men to Ukelle,” Ayade said.

Responding to the governor’s request, Uzezi gave an assurance that he would contact the NAF headquarters to bring in surveillance airplanes to fly and see what exactly the situation on the ground was; adding that the air force leadership would ensure that Cross River State and other parts of the country remained secured.

“We are obliged to do that; we are not selective. I will bring the issue of the crisis up with the air force headquarters to bring in surveillance airplanes to fly over the areas and see exactly what the situation on the ground is,” he said.