Abdulsalami Muyideen Deji, PhD
Department of History
Faculty of Arts, Management & Social Sciences
Nigerian Army University, Biu,
Borno State, Nigeria
Email: abdulsalami.deji@naub.edn.ng,

Theresa Nfam Odeigah, PhD
Department of History and International Studies, Faculty of Arts,
University of Ilorin, P.M.B 1515, Ilorin, Kwara State
Email: odeigah.tn@unilorin.edu.ng

Hope Etim Ekenyong
Department of History and Diplomatic Studies
Faculty of Arts
Taraba State University, Jalingo, Nigeria

This paper examines the effects of boundary demarcation between Itumbauzo and her neighbours. The study explores the implications of boundary disputes on inter-group relations in Nigeria, using the people of Akwa Ibom and their Igbo neighbours situated in Abia state as a case study. This study becomes imperative since such disputes have shown to have dire consequences on long standing inter-group relations which goes back to pre-colonial times, as the case of Akwa Ibom and Igbo is one among the numerous examples scattered across Nigeria. Findings from the study reveal that the boundary conflict between both groups took root in the state creation and Boundary Adjustment exercises conducted by the then Federal Military Government which led to the carving out of Akwa Ibom state from Cross Rivers in 1987, and Abia from Imo state in 1991. Both have long before the coming of the European lived side-by-side peacefully as they had had a very robust inter-group relation which is presently being threatened by recent boundary disputes between them. However, it is intrusive to note that should these boundary disputes persist unresolved, the implication is that both groups will make no meaningful socio-economic advancement as wherever there is conflict, growth and development could be difficult to achieve. Hence, the study concludes thus: policy makers as well as traditional leaders must endeavour to avert further complication through proper investigation, consultations and reconciliation exercises. The method adopt in the study is both primary and secondary sources. While the primary source focuses on oral interview and use of archival document, the secondary source focuses on use of written documents such as gazettes, textbooks, journals and other relevant documents.

In reality, boundaries are as old as man himself and therefore not a new phenomenon in the relationship between man, his environment and his fellow human beings. On a broader spectrum, Africa as a whole has continuously been ravaged by land boundary disputes due to her colonial and post-colonial experiences. From Southern Africa, to North, East, West and Central Africa, there exist numerous protracted conflicts relating to boundaries forcefully separating two or more ethnic groups that either have shared cultural values or have lived side-by-side for countless number of years. Among these disputes, key instances would include, but not limited to; the Ogaden boundary conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia, the Bakassi Peninsula between Nigeria and Cameroon, Orange River border line between Namibia and South Africa, KaNgwane between South Africa and Swaziland, to mention but a few.

It should be noted that all the aforementioned land-border disputes have their root in the partition exercise conducted by European nations. In Nigeria, there exist a plethora of boundary disputes ravaging so many communities which are struggling over land, boundary, forest reserve, ancestral land, among other valuables, as the case may be. The boundary dispute between the Annang people (Itumbauzo) of Akwa Ibom state and their Igbo neighbours, particularly in Abia state, has been one of the numerous protracted boundary disputes in Nigeria which necessitated this academic venture.

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