The people of Kogi State who share boundary with Anambra State where there have been lingering boundary dispute have once again disclosed that they would not subscribe only to the use of Legal Notice 126 of 1956 in the demarcation of disputed boundary and that they are more concern about access to their farmlands and fishponds and not the presence of oil as is been insinuated.
Kogi State Deputy Governor and Chairman State Boundary Commission,Yomi Awoniyi,reiterated the concern of his people while presenting a supplementary submission at a public hearing organized by the House of Representative Joint Committee.
The Joint Committee was set up to interface with parties involved in the alleged encroachment of some parts of Kogi State by Anambra State and to carry out investigation into activities of oil companies in the disputed area.
The Joint Committee meeting was sequel to a motion brought before the House and referred to the Committee’s of Petroleum Resources (upstream) and that of Special Duties.
It would be recalled that on the 2nd of July 2013, when the Deputy Governor made his first presentation to the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives,he disclosed that what the people of the state are more particular about is access to their farm lands and fish ponds,said oil is of least importance to them.
He called for a quick resolution of the lingering crisis which he noted has affected the preoccupation of his people whose means of livelihood is farming and fishing.
While noting that oil was only discovered some where in the present day Bayelsa in 1956, Awoniyi,disclosed that as far back as 1922, documentary evidence of colonial times showed that the first crisis between Kogi and Anambra was over the disputed areas were forest reserves under the Kabba province were been encroached upon to establish Anambra Forest reserves.
The Deputy Governor also said that as far back as 1994 there were already efforts between communities in Kogi and Anambra states to use ethnographic references to resolve the areas of dispute in favor of Kogi State.
He added that the inability for the people to access their farmlands and fishing ponds is the state’s concern and not oil as is been alleged.
Awoniyi,called on the committee to do all it can to ensure that the on going peace talks and existing peace currently being enjoyed by the bordering communities is sustained.
While noting that the state government is aware of the unitisation oil policy which will enable the State benefit from oil exploration by reason of the 55% of OPLs 915 that straddles the state in Odeke Community of Ibaji Local Government Area when the issues of oil exploration is taken into consideration,said the people of the state will not want to let their farmlands and fishing ponds which is their rights go unhindered.
The Deputy Governor called for the sustenance of the peace that has existed between Kogi and its Anambra neighbors since the peace talks
began,said since the crisis began eleven of it indigenes have been killed while sixteen others are currently recuperating in the hospital from gunshots injury.
The Deputy Governor urged the National Boundary Commission not to rely solely on the Legal Notices 126 of 1956 as it is been clamored for by its Anambra neighbors in determining the boundaries of the two states but to also dwell on historical proofs,Northern Nigerian map and that of the Northern protectorate,historical,geographical and cultural perspectives as well as settlement pattern of the people along side ethnograhic evidence that are gazetted and are in the nation’s archives in defining the boundaries of the two states.
Awoniyi,described Kogi People as people who honor agreement,said the State has fully mobilized and is ready for the demarcation exercise that would lead to determining the Kogi / Anambra boundary.
The Deputy Governor also said the State is interested in the activities of Orient Petroleum Resources and would take up the offer to invest in the Company, however assured that if the struggle is about oil, oil would one day be discovered in the State as evidence abound that the State is blessed with oil.
Also in his submission,Joe Abraham,Kogi State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice,said the essence of Legal notice 126 of 1956 is being misunderstood by the people of Anambra State,said the notice was basically aimed at bringing all of the various boundaries into one document but without varying same.
He also reiterated the concern of the people of Kogi State to have access to their farm lands and fish ponds and not about oil,urged that the use of Legal notice 126 should not be sacrosanct in defining the boundaries of the two states.