Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Nigeria Army has denied killing eight youths from Ikot Offiong, Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State, who have been engaging in the protracted communal crisis with their neigbours in Oku Iboku, Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Reports have it that the latest clashes which occurred last Saturday resulted in the killing of about 20 persons mostly fishermen from Oku Iboku, who were allegedly ambushed ,and killed by gun -wielding youths from Ikot Offiong, who were using speed boats.
According to one of the reports in a national daily, it was during one of those clashes that eight youths from Ikot Offiong were allegedly killed by soldiers who were on a trouble-shooting mission in the war ravaged communities of both states.
Reacting to the allegation in a publication made by a national daily, the army said emphatically that its men deployed from the 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army did not kill any youth from Ikot Offiong, and declared that the publication was false.
The army stated its position through a statement signed by Deputy Director, Army Public, Relations, 13 Brigade, Captain, Kayode Owolabi, which was made available to journalists in Calabar on Tuesday.
The statement tagged: â€˜Re: Soldiers Kill Eight Armed Youths From Cross River State,â€™ read in part: â€œThe attention of the Headquarters, 13 Brigade Nigerian Army has been drawn to a recent publication carried by The Punch newspaper, alleging that soldiers killed eight armed youths from Cross River State.
â€œWe can emphatically state that what was reported was blown out of proportion. The facts remains that Ikot-Effiong community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State and Oku-Iboku community in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State share common boundary within the two states. However, overtime several communal clashes and rumor of clash have been recorded within the general area with some destruction to live and property.
â€œWe want to state that this story in particular is baseless and has no iota of truth. The headquarters wish to inform the general public that joint security agencies are on the ground in both Ikot-Effiong and Oku-Iboku to checkmate any criminal activities.
â€œThe Brigade frowns at such a misleading publication and strongly advise journalists to always clarify their facts with the Headquarters 13 Brigade for good reportage.â€