By Abasiofiok Inyang
It was a timely intervention on Thursday, August 26, 2021 when a foremost human rights organization in the country, COMPPART Foundation For Justice And Peace Building intervened and brokered peace in a faceoff between the people of Ibagwa community (host community) and 6 Battalion, Nigerian Army, Abak Local Government Area.
The face-off, The Crest correspondent who witnessed the peaceful settlement, reports that, was in lieu of the planned demolition of the shops around the Army Barrack owing to current security threat and challenge faced by the police, military and other operatives in the country with the attack at the Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna.
Briefing a delegation that comprised of COMPPART led by its Executive Director, Mr Saviour Akpan Esq, Foundation for Civic Education, Human Rights and Development Advancement (FOCEHRaDA) led by its Executive Director, Mr Clifford Thomas Esq, representative of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Abak, representative of Abak Council Chairman who was represented by councillor representing Urban Ward 3, Hon. Mbereobong Tom, and representative of the host community led by Akuku Engr. Nsima Ebong, the Commanding Officer, 6 Battalion, Ibagwa, Lt. Col. Daniel Ogueri said that the Command has good intention for the host community especially as regards protecting both the barrack and the entire community.
Ogueri who said that since he assumed duty at Ibagwa about four months ago, the Command has had a robust relationship with the host community, Abak council which he said has led to reconnection of the barrack and the entire community to the national grid after over five years of darkness, courtesy of the chairman of the council, Rt. Hon. Ekerette Inyang, noted further that “there is no plan to sack residents that own shops around or demolished the structures”.
He rather said that the relocation of traders around the barrack will be in “phases starting from the profiling of shops and owners, then gradual relocation to the mammi market inside the barrack for a more secured businesses”.
The Commanding Officer stressed the need for a clean and secured environment, said that the Command under his watch, “will not compromise security lapses within and around the barrack”.
On the curfew imposed around the barrack and the shops that traders do their business, he announced the extension from 6pm to 9pm. He sought the cooperation of members of the host community.
Speaking on behalf of the host community, Akuku Engr. Nsima Ebong said that the community has had a cordial relationship with the Command since its over 40 years of existence. He, however expressed fear that the planned relocation of the market to inside barrack as Mammi market will rob them their means of livelihood.
He, however, promised partnership with the Command to maintain security in the area especially the ravaging bandits. This, he said that the community will step up the security measures through vigilante group to wad off criminals.
In their separate speeches, the councillor representing Abak Urban Ward 3, Hon. Mbereobong Tom, the village head of Ibagwa, Chief Friday Jonah, the youth leader, Mr Godwin Peter Umanah, while commending COMPPART for the intervention to save the community from having a clash with the Army operatives, called on the Commanding Officer to maintain the agreement reached especially the 9pm curfew and status quo ante in the planned relocation of the market.
The Executive Director of FOCEHRaDA and Akwa Ibom State Coordinator of Human Rights Community, Clifford Thomas Esq commended the Commanding Officer for his collecting responsibility in protecting the barrack and the host community. He called for more of such cooperation.
The Executive Director of COMPPART, Mr Saviour Akpan Esq expressed satisfaction on the peaceful resolution of the faceoff. He called on the host community to be security conscious in the face of the security challenges in the country. While advising the Command to always carry the host community along in taking decisions that would affect them positively, he advocated civil-military relationship between the host community and the 6 Battalion for peaceful coexistence.