By Sunday Agbo, Abakaliki
Abanwan community in Biase local government area of Cross River state has refused to sign peace accord to end the lingering communal crisis in Erei communities, which has displaced over five thousand persons now taking refuge at Ekoli-Edda in Ebonyi state.
Orient Daily learnt that Abanwan Ibibi, Ipene,Ebo,Umuolo, Obum and Etana communities allegedly conspired to attack Urugbam community and chased them away from their ancestral home.
Spokesperson to the displaced persons, Bishop Frank Owali in an interview told Orient Daily that though they were ready to go back to their homes, but expressed worry over the unyielding attitude of the Abanwan people who refused the sign the peace accord on June 28.
Owali, who called on the federal government to intervene quickly into the matter to forestall break out of another war, said over 5000 persons were currently taking refuge at Ekoli-Edda in Ebonyi state.
“We are still in Ekoli-Edda. Apart from the fact that we have moved the youths down home base on the promises of the peace committee that they will secure us, that we should come back. We allowed the youths to go because the place has been over grown by weeds. But our women and elderly people are still in Edda. We did not allow our women to go because it is a hostile environment. There is no one thing called roof there.
“The youths there are only living under raincoat. Over five thousand of us were displaced from Urugbam community. The people of Abanwan community and seven others conspired against, fought and displaced us. They also burnt down our houses.
“On the 7th of May when the Cross-River state government sent a-seven- man peace committee to come and speak to us. We have no other choice than to return. Even after we waited for one month and eight days Abanwan never allowed us to return.
“We went into the land with an inscription that we are for peace, but since that day, the Abanwan people are not comfortable. We have been living there for the past two weeks with no roof over our heads. On the 24th of June, Abanwan people wrote a petition against the deputy governor of Cross River state who set that committee, against former CJN Onoghen Walter.
“The petition was against the seven-man committee. They wrote against the Nigerian army. That they must be allowed to choose what to do. The deputy governor said the ten communities that made up Erei should come together to sign a peace accord, but the Abanwan people refused. This is evidence to show that they do not want peace. We have also written a petition against other communities who have turned themselves to militia group terrorising the community to let the world to judge.
“The deputy governor set up the committee to reconcile us with these people that destroyed our community and do not want us to return home, even when it was our community, according to history that gave other nine communities where they are staying. But they have sent us into exile and dislodged us for seven months. We were able to go home because of this window opened by the government.
“We listen to the government and sent our youths to go and clear the bush that have over grown. We were supposed to sign the peace accord on Friday 28th June, 2019 but the Abanwan people refused. We were supposed to sign a peace accord with the ten communities in Erei. We have Abawnwan, Ibibi, Ipene, Ebo,Umuolo, Obum and Etana communities . These are the communities that conspired to fight us and send us away. We have Enu community, Afono and Urugbam community. Afono and Enu stayed neutral. The two communities were forced to pay eight live goats, two cows with thousands of naira as fine.
“Abawnwan people said they do not want us to return to our ancestral land. We want the world to hear us. We own the place it is our ancestral home. We want this genocide to stop once and for all. We need more security.
“We appeal to the federal government to step in immediately to stop this attack from Abanwan people. If they throw us into another war, it will be too bad. We have been dislodged. The whole of our homes have been burnt. 1005 homes were destroyed and burnt. Now even as we are trying to go back, they have looted all our farm produce. And now the season of farming is gone, we do not know how we will survive.
“The Cross-River state government wasted time for allowing us outside our home for seven months before stepping in. We cannot continue with this wrong antecedent of the Abanwan people that any people they dislodge cannot come back to their land”, he stated.