Loading...

How to resolve incessant inter boundary disputes in C'River By Okoi Obono-Obla

Chief Okoi Obono-Obla Esq.

Cross River State of Nigeria shares boundaries with Akwa Ibom State; Ebonyi State; Abia State and Benue State of Nigeria. It also shares a transnational or international boundary with the Republic of Cameroon.

In our past we have seen several inter-States boundary disputes between communities in Cross River State and those of neighbouring ones in Akwa Ibom; Ebonyi, Abia and Benue States which regrettably have led to the loss of lives, destruction of properties and general insecurity with the attendant threat to peace and stability of these communities.

Principally, the National Boundary Commission is entrusted with the responsibility of intervening, determining and dealing with any boundary dispute that may arise among States, Local Government areas or communities in the Federation with a view to settling the disputes.

Also the National Boundary Commission is responsible for defining, and delineating boundaries between States, Local Government Areas or communities in the Federation and between Nigeria and her neighbours in accordance with delimitation instrument or document established for that purpose.

The National Boundary Commission is a statutory body established by an Act of the National Assembly.

The functions of the National Boundary Commission are spelt in Section 7 (a-q) of the National Boundary Commission Act thus:

The Commission shall-

(a)    intervene, and deal with any boundary dispute that may arise between Nigeria and any of her neighbours with a view to settling the dispute;

(b)    intervene, determine and deal with any boundary dispute that may arise among States, Local Government areas or communities in the Federation with a view to settling the disputes;

(c)    define, and delineate boundaries between States, Local Government Areas or communities in the Federation and between Nigeria and her neighbours in accordance with delineation instrument or document established for that purpose;

(d)    monitor trans-border relations between Nigeria and her neighbours with a view to detecting areas of tension and possible conflict;

(e)    promote trans-border co-operation and border region development;

(f)     encourage negotiated settlement of border disputes in preference to litigation;

(g)    facilitate equitable utilisation of shared border resources of land, water, games, forest resources, etc.;
               
(h)    co-ordinate all activities on international boundaries;

(i)     formulate policies and programmes on internal and international boundaries including land and maritime;

(j)     liaise with other international boundary related bodies;

(k)    advise the Federal Government on matters affecting Nigeria's border with any neighbouring country;

(l)     consider recommendations from the technical committees or any other committee set up by the Commission and advise the Federal Government on such recommendations;

(m)   take all necessary steps towards the implementation of resolutions on internal boundary disputes;

(n)    disseminate information to educate the general public on the functions of the Commission under this Act;

(o)    organise, run, operate, conduct and participate in such training courses, lectures, seminars, conferences, symposia and similar study groups which may enhance the activities of the Commission or the efficiency of any of its officers and employees;

(p)    carry out such duties related to boundary and border matters as the President may, from time to time, direct; and

(q)    do such other things as may be considered by the Commission to be necessary, desirable, expedient, supplementary or incidental to the performance of the functions or the exercise of the powers conferred on the Commission under this Act.

Undoubtedly, the incessant boundary disputes and subsequent violence in the communities in the State that share boundaries with communities in these neighbouring States may be due to the failure of the National Boundary Commission to be alive to its statutory responsibilities. However, the failure of leadership in these States is partly responsible for the escalation of these clashes in these boundary communities.

The consequence of the failure of leadership in decisively dealing with these crises is the deliberate failure of States leadership to avail itself of the conflict or dispute resolution mechanism embedded by the framers of the National Boundary Commission Act to deal.

For instance, the National Boundary Act makes provision for the establishment of the State Boundary Committees and Local Government Boundary Committee respectively.

Section 12 subsections 1, 2 (a) (b) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv),(c) (d)  (e) (j) of the National Boundary Commission Act provides as follows thus:

(1) There shall be established by each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja a Boundary Committee.

(2) A State Boundary Committee shall consist of-

(a)  the Deputy Governor of the State, who shall be the Chairman;

(b)  Commissioners, each responsible for-
(i)    Survey;

(ii)  Finance and Economic Development;

(iii)  Information; and
(iv) Local Governments;

(c)  the Attorney-General of the State and Commissioner for Justice;

(d)  the Commissioner of Police in the State;

(e)  the Director, State Security Services in the State;

(j)    the Surveyor-General of the State;
(g)    the Comptroller of Immigration Services;

(h)    the Chairman, Council of Chiefs or Traditional Rulers for the State;

(i)    the Chairman or Chairmen of the Local Government Areas, who may be co-opted when matters affecting the Local Government Areas arise; and

(j)    three other persons knowledgeable in boundary and border matters one representing each of the Senatorial Districts.

The Functions of the State Boundary Committees are as follows thus: The State and Federal Capital Territory Boundary Committees shall each-

(a) deal with inter- and intra-Local Government boundary disputes within the State and the Federal Capital Territory;

(b)    define and delimit inter- and intra-Local Government Area or Area Council Boundaries in accordance with the delimitation instrument or document established for that purpose;

(c) liaise with the Zonal Liaison Officer of the Commission in the State and the Federal Capital Territory;

(d) identify and intervene in areas of potential disputes in the State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;

(e)    hold meetings, at least once in every quarter, to ensure maintenance of peace and order in the border areas;

(j)    liaise with the State Boundary Committees of neighbouring States with the view of taking joint measures that shall promote good inter-community relationship;

(g)  arrange with other State Boundary Committees for joint utilisation of shared resources and facilities along their common borders;

(h)  encourage and promote joint inter-community development ventures among border dwellers;

(i)  encourage and support peace organs within the State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as the case may be, for the purpose of promoting peace and harmony between communities involved in boundary disputes;

(j)  monitor the activities of Local Government Boundary Committees within the State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as the case may be, and deal with disputes which cannot be settled by the Local Government Boundary Committees;

(k) evolve measures for joint utilisation of amenities along Local Government boundaries within the State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as the case may be;

(l) encourage negotiated settlement of boundary disputes in preference to litigation; and

(m)    carry out awareness and enlightenment campaigns among the people in the State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as the case may be, on the essence of boundaries in order to foster peace and harmony among the people living along boundary lines.

Section 14 of the Act also provides for the establishment and  composition of the Local Government Boundary Committee thus:

(1) There shall be established by each Local Government Area in a State and each Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory, a Local Government Boundary Committee.

 (2) A Local Government Boundary Committee shall consist of-

(a) the Vice-Chairman of the Local Government Area, who shall be the Chairman of the Committee;

(b)  the Supervisory Councillor each for-
(i)       Works; and

(ii)       Finance;

(c)    the Divisional Police Officer in the Local Government Area;

(d) a representative each of the-

(i)    State Security Services in the Local Government Area; and

(ii)  Surveyor-General of the State;

(e) a Local Government Council Officer of Immigration Services;

(f)  two—

(i) Traditional Rulers;

(ii) other persons knowledgeable in boundary and border matters, appointed by the Chairman of the Local Government Area; and

(g) the Head of Department of Works.
The Functions of the Local Government Boundary Committee include: A Local Government Boundary Committee shall-
(a) deal with inter-community boundary disputes;

(b) liaise with and keep the State or the Federal Capital Territory Boundary Committee, as the case may be, informed of all boundary problems within the Local Government Area or Area Council;

(c)  hold meetings, at least once quarterly, to identify areas of potential boundary disputes and alert the State or the Federal Capital Territory Boundary Committee, as the case may be;

(d)  liaise with neighbouring Local Government Areas towards evolving joint programmes that shall promote peace and harmony among border dwellers;

(e)  encourage negotiated settlement of boundary disputes in preference to litigation; and

(j)  carry out awareness and enlightenment campaigns with the view of fostering peaceful relationship with neighbouring communities.

It is well settled that the one of the primary responsibility of government is the provision of security and catering for the well-being of its citizens. The frequent and incessant eruption and breaking out of intra and inter State boundary crises is therefore an abdication of the role required  government by virtue of the social contract between it and the people.

As we all expect a change in baton of leadership in the State; I expect the candidate of my Party-APC, Senator John Owan Enoh to design a road map or plan for the resolution of these boundary disputes or conflicts that have plagued and mired the State for the past 16 years which unfortunately successive PDP administrations have failed to sustainably resolve with the present administration clearly indifferent to the alarming security crisis in Cross River State.

This must include the constitution of the State Boundary Committee and Local Boundary Committees in Local Government Councils that share boundaries with other States such as Odukpani, Biase; Abi, Yala and Obudu Local Government Areas. There must also be the need for the Governor to appoint a Commissioner for Boundary Matters which will directly be responsible to him.

The resolution of these disputes is imperative to any plan to revamp and resuscitate the economy of the State which has become comatose, stagnant and indeed stunted arising out of incompetent and ambivalent political leadership.

Okoi Obono-Obla is the SA on Prosecution to the President and Chairman, Presidential Panel on recovering of public asset.

Politics 2046214299466254092

Post a Comment

emo-but-icon

Home item

Follow by Email

Popular Posts

Contact Us

Name

Email *

Message *