A member of the House of Representatives representing Obanliku/Bekwarra/Obudu Federal Constituency, Hon. Peter Akpanke, has decried the attack and abduction of 31 people in Belegete community of Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State by Cameroons Ambazonian separatists.
In a statement on Friday issued by Akpanke and seen by IGBERE TV, he described the attack as “horific,” which he said has “left him in bitterness, sadness and disappointment.”
He lamented that the attackers abducted the clan Head of Belegete community, HRH Chief Ogweshi Francis and 30 others, including women and children.
He therefore, called on the Federal Government of Nigeria, to as a matter of urgency, intervene by ordering relevant security agencies to mount posts across the border communities, to forestall more pains being inflicted on the peaceful Belegete community.
The lawmaker also called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to swiftly provide vital assistance to those affected by the tragedy.
Narrating the ordeal of his people, Akpanke said: “I stand before you today with a heavy heart, filled with profound anger, bitterness, sadness and disappointment.
“On the 5th of December, 2023, our peaceful community of Belegete was subjected to a horrific attack by suspected Ambazonian militants from the Republic of Cameroon.
“These barbaric individuals held our people hostage for over 24 hours, inflicting pain and suffering through gun violence, physical assault, and the destruction of properties worth millions of Naira.
“As some of you may be aware, my parents, siblings and children of the Belegete extraction witnessed the saddest day of our existence recently when armed separatists from the Republic of The Cameroons whom have been named Ambazonians attacked the sleepy and peaceful community of Belegete.
“Belegete community is a Nigerian border village between Nigeria and Cameroon within the edges of the Obanliku plateau in the hinterland of the Obudu Mountain Resort.
“It is located about 400 kilometres north of the Nigerian port city of Calabar. The community has been under siege by Ambazonian bandits since Tuesday 5th December 2023.
“The bandits have continued to shoot sporadically, beating and carting away people and valuable property to their camp across the border River between Nigeria and Cameroon.
“Among over 30 people abducted, is Chief Ogweshi Francis, the Clan Head of Belegete Clan.
“Apart from those taken captive, several other men, women and children have been abused, injured and emotionally traumatised.”
He stated that the area where the barbaric and dastardly attack is being unleashed is the ancestral home of the Belegete people.
He said: “They have inhabited the place for several centuries as law-abiding citizens of Nigeria.
“They have lived peacefully and harmoniously with their far and near neighbours.
“There is therefore, no justification whatsoever for this external invasion on Nigeria’s territory and the disruption of the life of her citizens.
“Beyond the plights brought upon the Belegete people, this unprovoked aggression is a frontal attack on the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“The Nigerian government needs to take urgent and drastic action to forestall a repeat of what happened in the southern border where Nigeria lost part of its rich territory to Cameroon.
“It should be treated as a case of once bitten, twice shy. The relevant security operatives have to rise to the occasion to ensure that the sovereignty of Nigeria is not tampered with.
“Security operatives must take drastic actions to secure the lives and property in the area.
“These barbaric acts have continued for a long time till now, with our brothers and sisters subjected to pain and sufferings as well as destruction of their property.
“These, alongside the abduction of our people and the life-threatening injuries inflicted on them with no support yet from the Federal Government leave one to wonder whether George Orwell’s Animal Farm is at play – all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. Is that the case with Nigeria right now?”
He said: “As I speak, the Clan Head of that Community, Chief Ogweshi Francis is held hostage by armed separatists of another country and we as a Nation are not angered?
“It must be noted that the Belegete community is very rich in natural resources like Uranium and Lithium and this is one of the major reasons that the Amazonian separatists from Cameroon attacked the community.
“This act of aggression is not only a blatant disregard for human life and safety of fellow Nigerians but also a direct assault on the sovereignty of Nigeria.
“We, as a nation, cannot tolerate such acts of impunity and must respond with the utmost seriousness and resolve to forestall its recurrence.
“It is not the first time such has happened as we have seen from years past in some North Central and North Eastern States like Taraba and Adamawa.
“The response to the crisis in Belegete, as it was in those areas has unfortunately been hampered by the lack of readily available access roads and communication infrastructure in this community.
“This, has undoubtedly left the community feeling vulnerable and exposed.
“While the government works to improve the crucial infrastructure and mobilise resources necessary for human existence and security of lives and property, it’s important to remember the human cost of this delay and the fundamental rights of all citizens to feel safe and protected in our dear country Nigeria.
“Therefore, I demand immediate and decisive action from the Nigerian government.”
Akpanke, therefore, called for deployment of adequate security personnel to Belegete and surrounding areas to ensure the safety and security of the citizens as well as provision of immediate medical assistance to the injured and displaced.
The member of the House of Representative called for a thorough investigation into the attack and abduction of Belegete, with a view to bringing the perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice.
“The Construction of access roads and provision of communication infrastructure to improve the security and well-being of our border communities especially in Cross River State should be done immediately.
“The recent tragedy in Belegete has highlighted the urgent need to bolster security along our borders.
“We call on the Nigerian Border Patrol to take immediate action by establishing permanent security outposts across strategic locations.
“These outposts, equipped with necessary resources and staffed with trained and fully armed personnel, will play a crucial role in deterring future incursions into Nigeria and ensuring the safety of our citizens in their various communities.”