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Balikumbat Villages Spoiling For War 

By Chris Mbunwe

Two villages in Balikumbat Subdivision, Bamunkumbit and Baligashu, are spoiling for war over a disputed piece of land at Mindat neighbourhood where the recently created Government Technical College Baligashu is supposed to be built.

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The piece of land under dispute in Bamunkumbit is said to have been resolved by the Ndop Subdivisional communiqué Ref. No. E.29/02/C.68/102 of May 13, 1991 making reference to the 1979 Land Commission that laid the issue to rest, restraining the Baligashu from carrying out further construction on it.

In the letter addressed to Northwest Governor, the then DO for Ndop Subdivision, Jacob Agbor, wrote that "one crucial stipulation made by the 1979 Land Commission was that while the Baligashu people were to be paid compensation for crops and houses existing at the date of the report of the commission for them to quit the disputed area, they were forbidden to carry out any further developments on it after this date."

The said crops and houses are said to have been evaluated at FECA 14,325,200 million.  As stated in the Fon of Baligashu’s petition, the DO said the Baligashu duly accepted to receive the compensation which, unfortunately, could not immediately be made available by Bamunkumbit.
While accepting to receive the compensation, the Baligashu went ahead to violate the commission’s one essential prohibition that they should not carry out further development on the disputed area.

"They went ahead and built more houses and planted more cash crops," lamented DO Agbor.
According to the DO, there was a second evaluation that was ordered by the SDO for Mezam that amounted to FCFA 37 million and the Baligashu stood their grounds that the two evaluations should be considered together for compensation, thereby expecting Bamunkumbit, a village of less than 5,000 inhabitants, to pay FCFA 52 million.

Meanwhile, the Baligashu people argued that they have very limited land space and if they were to leave the disputed area, they would have nowhere else to go to.  The DO then said if this argument were genuine, one would expect them to readily accept to remain on the disputed area and owe allegiance to the Fon of Bamunkumbit. 

On the contrary, the DO said in one of their meetings in 1991, the Baligashu stated categorically that "they would rather see themselves driven from the place than accept a franc of the compensation and quit. They said nothing about the option of remaining and paying allegiance to Bamunkumbit." As such, when Government Technical College was created last year, the Baligashu people invaded the area and moulded cement blocks to start the construction of the college.

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Talking to The Post, the Ngoketunjia Development and Cultural Association, NGODECA, Public Relation Officer, Micheal Alot, a notable, and Chrysantus Ablingwa (elite) of Bamunkumbit, said when the crisis resurfaced with the construction of the school, they alerted the Mayor and the present DO of Balikumbat who advised the Baligashu people to choose any land, anywhere in their village but that they ignored the advice.

"Instead, we saw them moulding blocks and on July 3, three armed boys invaded our village, and we caught same and handed to the administration," they stated. According to them, the Baligashu are insisting on constructing on the disputed piece of land to claim ownership when the 1979 Land Commission had resolved the issue.

"If they continue, we see war looming in the days ahead if the administration does not restrain the Baligashus," they remarked. The Principle of Government Bilingual High School Ndop, Joseph Babeng, said it was total embarrassment when the Bamunkumbit raised an objection that the college should not be constructed on the said piece of land when Baligashu people showed up to clean the place. 

"We no longer consider the place under dispute because we have a letter all the two villages signed annulling the 1979 Land Commission and Baligashu people have been living on this land for decades with their crops and houses in tact," said Babeng. He said if the two villages interact well, there should be no bloodshed again over the piece of land.

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