3 October 2017

Nigeria: Senate Tasks Boundary Commission On Land Disputes

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday directed the National Boundary Commission to investigate boundary conflicts around the country and clearly delineate the boundaries to curb widespread disputes.

The directive followed a motion on crises arising from non-delimitation of Nigerian internal boundaries.

In the motion, Gershom Bassey (PDP-Cross River South) noted that Nigerian internal boundaries are afflicted by a multitude of crises that cause loss of lives and properties.

He said farmlands and the use of land mass as means of revenue allocation in Nigeria were a major factor in the boundary disputes.

Mr. Bassey noted that the core mandate of the Boundary Commission is to define and delimitate boundaries between states, local government areas or communities in accordance with delimitation instruments or documents established for that purpose.

He, however, expressed worry that despite the commission's mandate, about 150 active border disputes resulting from non-delimitation of boundaries exist within and between states across Nigeria.

He said territorial disputes over possession and control of land between communities, leading to loss of lives and properties, are also on the increase in the country.

While supporting the motion, John Eno (PDP-Cross River Central), stressed that many people have been displaced and made refugees as a result of inter-state boundary conflicts.

While making reference to the boundary conflicts between Obubra Local Government Area of Calabar in Cross River and their neighbours in Ebonyi State, the senator urged the Boundary Commission to find a lasting solution, adding that the conflicts persist "not because of what they (the Commission) are doing, but because of what they have not done."

The Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, who condemned the various inter-state boundary conflicts across the country, explained that they are problems caused by separations as well as desire of a particular state or region to own larger land mass.

"People are killed because of land and some states are eager to own large land mass," the former Akwa Ibom State Governor said.

Mr. Akpabio urged the Senate to treat the issue as an emergency, stressing, "It is not just about passing the motion, we need to do more to implement it."

Mr. Bassey expressed worry that the commission's intervention in the settlement of boundary crisis in Nigeria, even after judgements of the Supreme Court, were always belated and comes after loss of human lives and properties.

He, however, recommended a proactive and effective delimitation of Nigerian internal boundaries by the commission will to curb the incessant boundary disputes.

Adopting the motion, the Senate resolved to urge the commission to take immediate steps over the many lingering boundary disputes by clearly delineating Nigerian internal boundaries.


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