By Francis Ekpone
Ahead of Saturday’s general election, there are fears that the fledging boundary dispute between Umuenwelum Anam and Nzam communities in Anambra West local government area of Anambra state could lead to massive disenfranchisement of voters in the area and more bloodshed if proactive measures are not taken.
Orient Daily gathered that the bloody boundary war which has led to death and wanton destruction of property in the area had become a major source of concern as youths on both sides of the conflict zone had continued to stage guerilla attacks despite efforts to resolve it.
Mr Nnamdi Anekwe-Chive, a security expert who hails from the area, told newsmen in Awka that the month-long hostilities had done severe damages to the socio-economic wellbeing of the people in the area and that, if not well handled, it could affect the forthcoming general election as many voters from the area may be disenfranchised.
Anekwe-Chive, the candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the Anambra West constituency for the Anambra State House of Assembly election, who disclosed that the boundary crisis had also affected political campaign in the area, called for urgent deployment of security operatives to checkmate further breach of peace in the area.
“This crisis could lead to the disenfranchisement of voters who live across the boundaries of the two communities. It is my humble request that governments both at state and federal levels should be resolved to bring about a permanent resolution to the boundary dispute that led to the crisis.
“I implore them to deploy a joint team of the Nigerian armed forces to patrol Umuenwelum-Nzam road, Mmiata-Innoma-Nzam road and the adjoining farm camps, where we believe some misguided persons have the capacity to unleash mayhem on unsuspecting constituents and strangers on daily basis,” he said
He urged traditional and political leaders in the area to avoid taking advantage of the conflict but to work towards ensuring permanent resolution of the boundary dispute. “I feel terribly pained that a land dispute that could be amicably resolved would be the basis of this wanton destruction of lives and property that is exacerbating by the day. Umuenwelum and Nzam communities are long-time friendly neighbours and allowing this boundary tussle to become a subject of armed conflict that would cause untold economic hardship and radicalisation of youths in the area”, warning that “allowing this dispute to fester, especially at this electioneering season, may create permanent friction in the area”.
He also called on the youths of the area to approach the matter with caution, embrace dialogue and avoid being used as tools for bloodletting and destruction of properties. “The people in this area are predominantly agrarian. Since this conflict started, many of them have been displaced and afraid to go back to their farm camps for fear of being killed or wounded. Some have already lost their crops. Already, the damage is massive and it would keep mounting unless government takes steps to resolve this crisis”, he said.
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