The land ownership war between indigenes of Ukelle in Yala local government area of Cross River and Igbeagu in Izzi local government area of Ebonyi state, has escalated, claiming more casualties on both sides.
Our reporter reliably gathered from an Ukelle resident that about 16 persons have allegedly lost their lives on the frontline in the last week, while many others who sustained various degrees of injuries were receiving treatment in both private and government hospitals across Cross River state, including the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), in Calabar, the state capital.
Residents of Igbeagu communities also claimed that they had suffered heavy casualties in terms of human lives and property in the recent escalation of violence over the disputed border land. The zonal leader of Ndubia in Igbeagu community, Chief Nweze Peter, told this paper that in the past two weeks, the community had witnessed seven attacks from Ukele residents which left about eight persons dead. According to him, all efforts by the people of Ebonyi state to ensure amicable resolution of the land dispute was resisted by their neighbouring Cross River, adding that the people rather had continued to attack and kill them.
Although leaders of the two warring communities have accused each other of instigating and fueling the crisis, efforts by governments at the federal and state level to resolve the crisis and restore peace have so far yielded minimal results.
It was however gathered that security agencies had taken over the area to stem the tide of violence. Security agents were reportedly stationed along Ogoja- Abakaliki road.
An anonymous caller, who claimed to speak from his hideout in the war-torn area claimed that “the Izzis of Ebonyi State on Tuesday stormed Nkaliki near Onunwankpo with sophisticated weapons, shot at the cars, buses, lorries and trucks that plied the road, leaving many injured.
“Come to the Lutheran Hospital in Yahe, Yala local government area of Cross River state, you will see victims of the barbaric act with bullet wounds. This morning, nobody is travelling to Abakiliki from Ogoja, neither to Ogoja from Abakaliki without the fear of being killed, burnt or maimed for life.
“Those of you who are closer to the government, please inform them that people are suffering somewhere in Ukelle axis of Yala local government of Cross River state and we need their help.”
“The Izzi people have actually extended their killings to innocent people who have no trace of Ukelle blood including a youth corps member killed along Abakiliki-Ogoja road.”
The Cross River state police public relations officer, ASP Irene Ugbo, however, claimed in a telephone chat with our reporter that “the area is calm now because the commissioner of police deployed more policemen to the location.”
Investigations revealed that the land tussle had so far led to loss of over 1000 human lives and properties estimated to worth hundreds of millions of naira.