By Duru Kizito
Members of the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and officers from the Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGOF) have initiated plans to bring to an end the disagreement between Imo and Rivers states over boundary.
In a stakeholders’ meeting with the Imo State Government in Mmahu, the Council Headquarters of Ohaji-Egbema Local Government of Imo State, the NBC flagged off the Imo/Rivers Inter-State Boundary Physical and Tracing Demarcation aimed at resolving the boundary dispute between the sister states.
In his welcome address, Rt. Hon. Goodluck Opiah, the Special Adviser and Coordinator for Oil and Gas Matters to Governor Hope Uzodimma, commended the NBC for its promptness and willingness to resolve the dispute.
He reposed confidence on the NBC to bringing to an end the lingering disagreement by meticulously carrying out the exercise.
His address read partly: “Rivers State shares boundaries with Imo State across four local governments: Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area, Oguta Local Government Area, Owerri West Local Government and Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area. In all the areas are skirmishes of boundary disagreements between Imo and Rivers communities. These boundary disputations could degenerate into unmitigated communal crisis if not well handled. This is the reason we heave a sigh of relief that the NBC has stepped in to resolve the boundary issues once and for all”.
Opiah noted that “Efforts had been made in the past to address these boundary disputations to no avail. Today, we are witnesses to a concerted effort by the Federal Government through the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to bring these boundary disputations to a permanent end”.
He expressed optimism that the NBC would do a good job. He said: “We have no doubt that in the end the land dispute between the two states will be over, as the physical tracing and provisional demarcation of the boundaries would have been concluded.”
In his own speech, the Deputy Governor of Imo State and the Chairman of the state’s Boundary Committee, Prof Placid Njoku, assured the NBC of the partnership and support of the State Government to ensure a smooth assignment on the boundaries.
He maintained that the people Imo State was peace loving and appreciate any move that engineers peaceful coexistence.
He said: “The people of Imo State loves peace and advocates for justice, equity and fairness. Our Government has sacrificed a lot to maintain peace and ensure adequate protection of lives and properties of Imo citizens living in the border communities. Nevertheless, there have been continued border skirmishes and anxiety in Oguta and Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Areas of Imo State.
“It is my utmost belief that today’s event affords the states the opportunity of taking a critically important step in the final drive to determine the common boundary of the two states.”
In his remark, the NBC Director General, Sunday Adamu, assured the states of the Commission’s commitment in settling the dispute by doing a thorough and impartial job.
He also inaugurated the members of Imo State Committee on the Boundary demarcation, noting that the Commission had set up a Joint Task Team that comprised of members of the Commission and officials from the two states, to ensure a fair and just exercise.