Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has maintained that the socio-cultural ties between the state and Anambra are stronger than any boundary dispute.
Mr. Ugwuanyi made this known in Enugu on Tuesday at a meeting between Enugu and Anambra State delegates to resolve the lingering boundary dispute between Awba Ofe Mmili in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra and Ibite-Olo in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Cecilia Ezeilo, said that both states had a strong socio-cultural affinity and should as a result enjoy an enduring peace especially at their border areas.
Mr. Ugwuanyi stressed the need for a peaceful co-existence among communities on boundary areas of the two states.
“In approaching this matter of boundary disputes between Enugu and Anambra, we should have at the back of our minds that the two states are bound together by socio-cultural ties.
“We have lived together prior to the carving out of both states from the old Anambra State in 1991. The state creation was not meant to divide, it is rather for administrative conveniences,” the governor noted.
He informed the people of an existing legal boundary instrument with the National Boundary Commission which, according to him, clearly defined the demarcation.
The governor commended the Federal Government for intervening in the matter in 2006 and 2011 and urged the communities to be law-abiding.
In his remarks, the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke, noted that conflicts would be avoided if people always remembered that human lives were ephemeral whereas lands would remain in existence.
Mr. Okeke, who represented Governor Willie Obiano, said that Igbos cherished land a lot saying that it was not worth dying for.
“I know as Igbos, we do not play with land; we take land as if our life depends on it, we fight for it with everything we have. But when you die, the land will be there for generations after.
“So, the fighting and killings are not worth it,” he said.
He called for a mutually acceptable resolution and charged communities in the dispute to sheathe their swords as government officials responsible for boundary demarcation would soon find a lasting solution to the conflict.
The members later issued a communiqué at the end of its closed session which extended the mandate of the security and peace committee charged with the supervision of the planting and harvesting of crops within the disputed area.
It also forbade the people from collecting money from farmers in the area, or to sell the land, and temporarily banned investors from accessing the land.
The communique further called for the inclusion of the Divisional Police Officers from the neighbouring communities in both states in the peace committee.