The Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Edward Onoja, has disagreed with the planned boundary tracing in the boundary dispute with Enugu State.
Onoja who is also the Chairman, Kogi State Boundary Committee, insisted that the only discussion expected on boundary disputes should be on how to implement the judiciary order and nothing more.
The Kogi State Government had initiated action against the Enugu State government on the issue of the boundary dispute concerning the Ette Community, claiming that the community has never been part of Enugu state, and is being administered wrongly by the Enugu state government.
The state government quoted existing statutory instruments – Gazettes, maps, and schedules, which it claimed Enugu was unable to counter in court.
The Supreme Court in its ruling directed for an amicable settlement between both parties.
But speaking at a joint meeting of officials on Enugu/Kogi on Monday, the deputy governor who was represented by the Surveyor General, Kogi State, Michael Abolarinwa said that there was ample evidence that disputed communities belong to Kogi state.
He, therefore, said further discussion outside what the court had said would amount to a mere academic exercise.
His stand was however at variance with the stand of both the Surveyor General of Nigeria, Abuduganiyu Adebomehin, and that of the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Cecila Ezeilo who are calling for field tracing of the disputed areas.
He said, “Existing analysis of the delineation points directly to the fact that the Ette community is three whole miles from the Enugu border – Supreme court only required the Enugu state government to tender one single instrument that shows that Ette is within its border, and it never did. Just one instrument to ground its right of possession which it claimed, as possession without title goes to nothing. Fortunately, we still have these boundary instruments in Gazettes in our kitty. This is confirmed by the Brief on Enugu/Kogi interstate boundary
“Again, we are here talking about a clear case of encroachment and that was what the Supreme Court saw and directed an amicable settlement. I don’t see how field tracing comes into play here, as all there is required to do is to ascertain the interests of the community and do the demarcation that best suits their existence and future, and nothing more. This is a democratic system within a constitutional ambiance. If the Supreme Court had wanted a delineation, it would have simply said so, but it rather directed for an amicable settlement and we cannot stand here to circumvent that decision.
“I believe that the amicability of the settlement is a simple straightforward matter, which can still be done within the confines of the meeting and in accordance with the 1999 constitution, not recourse to dead inapplicable colonial boundary Orders-in-council and Legal Notices.
“And this becomes simplified by the fact that the matter is no more left at the discretion of the boundary commission, having been judicially determined. For this reason, what we should be talking about here is the implementation of the judicial order and nothing more.
“We cannot sit here deliberating on a matter that has been judicially determined, as that is not part of my mandate and that of the boundary commission.”
On her part, the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Cecilia Ezeilo, called for the completion of the tracing and demarcation of the disputed boundary.
Ezeilo who was represented by the Surveyor General, Enugu State, Augustus Didigwu commended the National Boundary Commission and the Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation for the determination to ensure that the field tracing, demarcation and monumentation of the common boundary of Enugu and Kogi was completed.
She also encouraged the two communities to nurture this friendly disposition at the borders and be ready at all times to mend fences whenever the need may arise.
On his part, the Director General, NBC, Adamu Adaji, said it has been the plan of the Commission “to physically trace and demarcate the boundary on the ground so as to give the correct picture of the affected communities along the boundary corridor including the Ette Community.”
He, however, said previous efforts had not been quite successful.