***Calls for immediate cessation of hostilities

By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja.

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi has called for judicial interpretation of a 1965 court judgement over a land dispute between Shintaku and Gbobe communities in Bassa Local Government Area as part of efforts to permanently end the communal clashes.

Bello who also ordered cessation of the fresh hostilities over the 61-year-old land dispute urged the warring communities to keep off the disputed areas and sheath their swords pending outcome of the interpretation.

The governor who was represented by the State Security Adviser, Cmdr Jerry Omodara gave the order during a closed door meeting with the stakeholders from the two communities on Wednesday in Lokoja.

According to the stakeholders, trouble resurged on Sunday 23th April, when youths from one of the communities invaded the disputed area and destroyed a cassava farm belonging to farmers from the other community.

In the melee that ensued, according to the community members, youths from both sides engaged in a gun duel that got more than three persons fatally wounded and had to be rushed to hospital.

The community leaders however said that while some of the injured youths were still at the Federal University Teaching Hospital, Lokoja, receiving treatment others had been treated and discharged.

The Governor ordered both communities to maintain peace and ensure cessation of hostilities with immediate effect, pending the judicial interpretation of the judgement on the disputed land.

Bello therefore ordered both communities to submit a copy each, of the 1965 judgement delivered in respect of the disputed land for necessary action and attainment of a lasting, if not permanent peace in the areas.

He therefore charged the warring communities to maintain peace and de-escalate tension that might lead to full blown war with possible loss or lives and property.

“The government has to take this proactive measure in order to prevent further escalation of the crisis that may lead to breakdown of law and order and destruction of lives and property in the areas”, he said.

Royal fathers from the two communities, HRH Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed, Anaja of of Gbobe and HRH Umar Yahaya, Omachi of Shintaku represented their respective communities at the meeting.

They both agreed that the land dispute and the culminating hostilities between them dated back to 1962 adding that they both had copies of the judgement on the dispute which was delivered in 1965.

Hon. Muktar Shaibu, Chairman of Bassa Local Government in his submission assured the governor that the stakeholders in the warring communities including their traditional rulers
were all committed to end the clashes permanently.

He said that they had commenced reconciliatory processes to address the issues holistically saying that they were kit and kin, biologically linked and had coexisted for long. (Ends)

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