NBC moves to resolve Abia, Akwa-Ibom boundary dispute


Some of the officials at a joint meeting with officials of Abia and Akwa Ibom to find lasting solution to the lingering boundary dispute between the states, in Abuja

By Philip Yatai

The National Boundary Commission (NBC) launched new efforts in Abuja on Wednesday to resolve the longstanding border issue between Abia and Akwa Ibom.

It called officials from the two governments to a roundtable, where its Director-General, Mr. Adamu Adaji, stated that previous sessions had not produced the desired results.

Adaji noted that the disputed line stretched for 275 kilometres between the ancient Cross River/Imo interstate boundary zones.

He noted that the boundary contains “tripoints” in Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River in the north and Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers in the south.

A tripoint or tri-border area is a geographical point where the borders of three countries or subnational entities intersect.

Adaji noted that the Federal Government issued Decree 23 of 1985 to modify the boundary based on the recommendations of the Kaloma Ali Boundary Ascertainment Commission.

He did remark, however, that the Federal Government’s directions for the boundary to be drawn and marked with the installation of permanent boundary pillars were not followed.

“Since taking over the boundary definition process, the commission has carried out various inconclusive field tracing and provisional demarcation exercises on the boundary.

“The challenges have always been the dearth of clear delimitation instruments or the non-clarity of them where they exist.

“Other challenges include the deliberate efforts to misinterpret the documents by stakeholders or their failure to accept them.

“Fortunately, we have succeeded in identifying sectors of the boundary that were not defined by the Decree line; the sectors in dispute as well as the sectors that the two states agreed as their areas of consensus,’’ Adaji said.

He said Wednesday’s meeting was organised to review the status of work on the boundary and discuss ways forward toward the completion of outstanding works.

He also called for the establishment of a joint technical team of officials of the Federal Government and the two states to document what had been done in the past.

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Adaji added that the team would identify sections of the boundary that were covered and those not covered, and produce detailed maps for stakeholders to continue the conversation.

In his remarks, Deputy Governor of Abia, Mr Ikechukwu Emetu, described border disputes as manmade, which could be resolved.

Emetu, also Chairman of Abia Boundary Committee, advised that cases involving boundary adjustment issues should be handled in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“If all of us decide to solve this problem for ourselves and our people, we shall surely find solutions that can be applied to the various sectors of the disputed boundaries.

“Some of the land dispute cases have been subjected to litigations and arbitrations before and after the colonial administration.

“We should apply these legal documents and evolve them in settling the land dispute matters.

“These recommendations, if adopted and implemented shall resolve 90 per cent of the disputes within a year,’’ Emetu said.

Also addressing the meeting, the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom, Sen. Akon Eyakenyi, expressed optimism that the two states would renew their vigour and adopt a progressive approach to resolving the issue.

According to her, Akwa Ibom and Abia do not only share common boundaries; they share history, certain cultural values, and means of livelihoods, inter-marry and share common humanity.

“So, we are one; but we need to constantly remind ourselves and our people of this indisputable fact.

“These lingering disputes which date back to the 1980s are largely due to human nature and lack of political will on the part of the authorities.

“If we employ the truth and have the courage to confront the facts, these disputes will be resolved easily,” the deputy governor said.


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