The Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Mohammadu Mohammed, at the weekend, lamented the destruction of properties and deaths from incessant communal clashes in Ebonyi State.
He said the clashes have assumed a higher dimension and called for an end to them to prevent an escalating humanitarian crisis in the area.
He spoke at Ohatekwe, Ikwo local government area of the state while distributing relief materials to displaced persons from the local government council.
The Director stated further that the agency was aware of the various communal clashes such as boundary disputes, internal political manoeuvring, traditional title tussle, among others.
He noted that the boundary clashes include those between communities in Ikwo, as well as Ikwo and their neighbours in Cross River State.
“The agency is aware of the border/land boundary dispute that erupted between Ikwo and Cross River communities in April 2013; also, in June 2016 another report of crisis from the area reached us while the third was reported in January this year.
“Communities involved have been completely displaced and their farmlands declared buffer zones.
“It is, therefore, a sad note to lose lives, property and those affected pass through the trauma of displacement over crises which has recently assumed greater dimension,” he said.
Mr Mohammed, however, urged most communities to shun communal crises, noting that it is regrettable that youths of these days no longer have regard or fear for human lives or respect for tradition and constituted authorities.
“Ebonyi, hitherto known for peace, unity and love for communal development, is gradually turning into a theatre of hostilities,” he added.
The relief materials were approved by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
Mr Mohammed, represented by the Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Fred Anoziem, said that the materials which comprised foods and non-foods essential materials were aimed at providing succour to the victims of various intra and inter community crises in Ikwo.
He stated that the benefiting communities include Ochuenyum, Ofenekpe, Agubia and parts of the Alike community.
The Member representing Ikwo/Ezza South Federal Constituency, Chinedu Ogah, commended Mr Buhari for approving the fund for the materials and assured that the materials would be adequately distributed to the benefiting communities.
The lawmaker said that he was liaising with his colleagues from Cross River State in the House of Representatives to find a lasting solution to the intractable interstate boundary disputes.
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“Though the relief materials are meant for three communities, we are going to extend the materials to other victims in Igbudu and Ekpomaka communities, as well as other victims of conflicts because more are coming,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of Ebonyi Emergency Management Agency, who represented governor David Umahi, commended the lawmaker for effective representation of his constituents.
The materials distributed include; 503 bags of 5 kilogrammes parboiled rice, 503 bags of garri, 403 bags of beans, 61 bags of iodised salt, 125 bags of granulated sugar, 147 cartons of seasoning, among others.
Non-food materials included 1500 pieces of blankets, 1500 pieces of mosquito nets, 1000 pieces of foam mattresses, 1200 pieces of ceiling boards, 1400 bags of cement, among others.