Posted by From Anietie Akpan (Calabar) on
RECENTLY, Ekori, a small sleepy town in Yakurr local council of Cross River State erupted in violence that had built up over the years....
RECENTLY, Ekori, a small sleepy town in Yakurr local council of Cross River State erupted in violence that had built up over the years. Several properties including a filling station belonging to Mr Obeten Mkpang Ewa, a leading politician in the area, were destroyed. The state government claimed lives were lost but the people of Ekori and Ugep said nobody died.
The state government in its security report linked the crisis to the rivalry between Chief Obeten Okorn Obeten, the member representing Abi and Yakurr Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives and Chief Bassey Eko Ewa the Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
Obeten is seen by many as the leader of Yakurr politics while the speaker is seen as aspiring to overthrow his "master" (Obeten) in Yakurr politics.
Following the violent clash in Ekori and the desire to restore peace, the State Governor Mr Donald Duke got the two politicians and others from Yakurr arrested. Several entreaties from different quarters to get them released failed and they were detained for three days. Only a Federal High Court order in their favour got them freedom.
The Yakurr crisis is ground testing for 2007 giving the fact the next Governor of the state may come from there in spite of strong interest from the North.
However, in a rare display of unity, the warring politicians; got together penultimate Sunday for a thanksgiving service at St. Peter Presbyterian Church of Nigeria in the council at the instance of Obeten. They resolved to end their differences.
Recounting the gains of the thanksgiving, Obeten said: "I am aware that before my thanks giving service, that Martins Ewa Mkpang who comes from Epenti in Ekori, Mr Michael Ekpo Mbang who unfortunately was dismissed from his job without trial, would never have sat in one place with Bassey Eko Ewa, the Speaker of the House of Assembly. I felt duty-bound that if I am going to thank God, that people murdered my innocence by incarcerating me for what I know nothing about, it should be an opportunity to bring together warring brothers to make peace. So, I invited Bassey, Mkpang from Ekori and also Ekpo Mbang and they did me honour by attending. I also invited the Chairman of Yakurr local council. It was to make sure that flash -points, like the one that took place in Ekori, which led to incarceration, does not happen any longer in Yakurr."
He said that he did the thanksgiving because "my innocence was murdered and because I am a Christian I thought that I should not allow the devil to locate himself in that my state of shock such that I should not have devilish alternatives as a way of confronting what befell me."
He continued: " Secondly, I thought that the best legacy I can leave for my people is to propagate peace even in this period of provocation. Without being arrogant, my detention was very provocative. Provocative because I was with our people during the period of the crisis. I was involved in the church programme where the entire community, the entire natives, as you saw them in church, were all together so it was unfathomable when they heard I was picked up because I was involved in a crisis in a community that was very distant from my community. We were all involved in a ceremony of holiness and they knew that we spent the time together. So I chose today, to forgive all those I had thought may have been used as a means of reaching my person negatively. So, for me it is a coming together of all Yakurr people.
"I give glory to God and I thank my political colleagues who were in the service, and who all agreed that there was need for peace and we should just propagate peace, that we should close the gaps through which the devil was trying to ventilate itself, by allowing people from outside to use our sons and daughters to perpetuate violence, and thereby destabilise our local council."
Obeten said that he had never differed with the speaker on any issue, because "there has never been basis for such difference. As Yakurr people we know who our leaders are and this is not in dispute."
Recalling his experience in detention, he said: " I was incarcerated in innocence. Yakurr never had any problem as a local council. Ekori had a problem. I don't come from Ekori. This is the point that I have strenuously tried to make everybody understand, including His Excellency, the Governor. I come from Ugep. Because I am a leader from Ugep, in Yakurr, if there is any irritating flash point in any area of Yakurr, I have the responsibility, as a true Yakurr son to ensure there is peace.
"I don't think at any point I denied the fact that there was problem in Ekori. What I have consistently denied is that there was problem in Yakurr because Ekori is just one community in Yakurr.
So to pick me as an individual into detention because I am from Yakurr, when there is a problem in Ekori, for me, is the height of degenerate ignorance."
With the rapprochement, it is to be seen how long the newfound peace would last in Ekori.