The Paramount Ruler of Biase local government area of Cross River State, His Royal Majesty (HRM) Onun Apostle Nicholas Odum, has said that the piece of land that brought about the crisis between several villages in Erei in Biase local government area of the state was established by defunct Eastern Region before the war as Oil Palm Plantation Settlement.
The settlement was handed over to the Cross River State government shortly after the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970 given that the location was in the state. However, the Erei community where the oil palm plantation was located has 10 villages.
Speaking to DAILY POST on phone on Friday, the paramount ruler said, “Erei is made up of 10 villages and there was a farm settlement in that community established by the then Eastern Region, it was called Erei Farm settlement. This was before the civil war (1967-1970).
“After the war, the farm became Cross River State property since the farm land is located in Cross River State land. Sadly, there was misunderstanding among the Erei people over the oil plantation. In March 2019, there was crisis among the people.
He explained that the Cross River State government constituted commission of inquiry, adding that “I was a member of the Commission of inquiry and it was led by a High Court Judge, Justice Eyo Ita.
“We went into it and inspected all the damages and made our reports and submitted same to government, in fact it was deputy governor, Prof Ivara Esu that received the report from us last week Friday.
”Incidentally, on Monday, crisis started again in the communities in Erei even when government has not made our report public. The crisis was among the Erei people.
“I went with the Area Commander from the Nigeria Police but I could not go further because of the crisis. We were told that the Police wanted to intervene in the crisis between the people of Orugbam and Abanwan but the youths of Abanwan prevented them from entering the area.
“We don’t know the reason, may be the Abanwam people drove the Orugbam people to their community. A lot of houses were destroyed and several people died. I did not get to Orugbam because the day I went with the Police, there were still firing. That was on Monday,” he said.
“Now that the Police was saying that nobody died, I don’t know how they got to that conclusion.”
On what caused the fight: HRM Odum said, “They have been having series of problem in the area over the oil palm plantation.”
He maintained that the latest war came as a result of lack of love among the people, adding that “The people lack patience among themselves. If they have been patient enough, they would have seen what government want to do for them; Government has a very good intention for these people.
“The situation today is that, on that Monday, the Police went there, the Area Commanders from Akamkpa, Odukpani and Biase were there and the next day, the Army went there too, the situation is calm now; there is no more fighting and killing or destruction of properties.
“My advice to the people is that they should keep down their guns and embrace peace and dialogue. There is nothing God cannot do, I would not tell you who is at fault because as the situation is, if somebody made any statement, the people would say, you are against us.”