At least, ten persons have been reported killed and several houses razed down in a communal clash that ensued between the people of Usumutong and Ediba in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State.
The violence started on Tuesday and has led to the destruction of property including houses, farmlands, domestic animals, electronics, furniture and cash.
A source hinted DAILY POST that it wasn’t the just concluded primary election that triggered the problem, as the people of Ediba were allegedly spoiling for a showdown with the people of Usumutong before the exercise.
Speaking with our correspondent on phone on Wednesday night, a community leader in the area, Comrade Joseph Omini Ogburuwa, insisted that the crisis has nothing to do with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives primary elections.
He claimed that the people of Ediba only capitalized on the elections to unleash mayhem on the people of Usumutong.
Comrade Ogburuwa, who is the community leader in Usumutong, appealed to government for quick intervention as his people were leaving in danger.
He said, “When we were informed about possible attacks, it did not come until that day of PDP primary election when they alleged that the vehicle conveying our people to Ugep carried arms but that was not true.
“In actual fact, nobody saw any of our people arms. When the Police ordered that the vehicle be searched, the driver of the vehicle kicked the car and moved but the Police shot the tyres yet the driver continued driving it into our road.
“When our boys on motorcycle saw it, they went for rescue operation and rescued the driver. Police then reversed. However, a man form Usumutong identified some of his cults members and went to exchange pleasantries but the people dragged him to their side and gave him a thorough beating,” he explained.
He said the Police, however, rescued him and took him to Ugep instead of taking him to hospital.
“The rescued suspect was taken to Ugep Police station instead of releasing him to his people or taking him to the hospital, he died the following day of injuries and internal bleeding.
“The Ediba people started the war when they captured our man who went to hunt animals in the bush, he was killed and the corpse taken to Ediba. The situation became worse when more people were ambushed and killed with their private parts removed.
“There is serious tension in the troubled areas because Ediba boys seized the service riffle from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Abi. Police were deployed from zone six to recover the riffle. The DPO was attacked by Ediba people and his service riffle seized”.
Reacting, Mr Eteng Ojong, an indigene of Ediba denied allegations leveled against his community, explaining that the communal clash between the two communities started long time ago.
He told our correspondent in Calabar that the people of Usumutong always attack them and they (Usumutong) promised to wipe them from the earth but God would not allow them.
“We have been leaving in peace but I believe the crisis started because of land for farm. We have appealed to the government to come to our aid. Several of our people have been killed too but that doesn’t stop us from inter marriage” he stated.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Ms Irene Ugbo said “Our men are on ground, they have been deployed to the troubled areas. The crisis started on Tuesday, houses were burnt. Commissioner of Police has directed the deployment of men to the areas.
On what triggered the problems, the PPRO said as at the time the command got the information, “We don’t really know the real cause of the clash, but we were able to calm the situation. The crisis started at about 3pm on Tuesday,” Ugbo stated.
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