Judex Okoro, Calabar
Tragedy struck in Bisae local government as four persons have been reportedly killed in a renewed communal clash between Abanwan and Orugbam in Cross River State.
The warring communities have been at daggers drawn over some parcel of land.
This is coming barely four months after both communities went to war in the first week in December last year, destroying houses and killing innocent persons in the process.
But the recent hostility seems to revenge by the Orugbam community whose houses were allegedly burnt down last year by the neigbouring Egbor, Ipene and Abanwan communities following a quarrel that ensued during burial arrangements for a late indigene of the area.
It was alleged that youths from Orugbam attacked Egbor, Ipene and Abanwan communities in the wee hours of Sunday killing four persons and razing buildings within the areas.
It was further alleged that since Orugbam community was burnt down last year, the residents have been living as refugees at Unwana, Afikpo and the surrounding Ebonyi communities and finally invaded Egbor, Ipene and Abanwan communities to avenge what happened to them in December last year.
A witness, Bassey Abeni, said: “The warlords numbering over 60 youths, believed to be Orugbam people with mercenaries from Ebonyi, invaded Egbor about 4:00 am on Sunday; after killing two people there, the razed the community.
“They moved to the nearby community, Ipene, and not seeing anybody, burnt down houses before going for their target, Abanwan where they also killed two people before setting the village on fire.”
Abeni, who said the people of Ipene heard gunshots suspected to be machine guns early on Sunday and fled the community before the Ebonyi warlords arrived, added that the villages were deserted while the people were hiding in the bushes.
“As I am talking to you now, all of us are in the bush. We suspected that one day the Orugbam people would strike because when they were sacked from their communities last year, they promised that they would revenge.”
Another witness, Emmah Ugah, from Egbor, alleged that the Ebonyi people had always been in alliance with Orugbam to take over the oil plantation in Egbor and were often assisted by Orugbam until the later was sacked last year.
“The problem has always been the oil plantation in Egbor where Ebonyi people have always come to exploit and they have always been assisted by Orugbam. The whole problem in Erei land began from the point where Orugbam, backed by Ebonyi people, wanted to take over the plantation from Egbor, and other Erei communities refused,” he stated.
Confirming the incident, the Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade, Mr. Ani Esin, said the military and regular policemen have taken over the place.
“Yes, we have information that there is a crisis there but the soldiers are on the ground and they are on top of the situation,” he said.
Also confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, DSP Irene Ugbo, said: “Our men, both the mobile policemen and the regular policemen are on the ground now. While I cannot confirm the casualty figure, I learnt houses have been burnt,” she said.