Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
About nine persons including a pregnant woman have reportedly been killed in a boundary dispute between the people of Ofioji in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and Ijutun-Idoru of Obunra Council Area of Cross River State.
Available information at press time had it that the people of Ijutun-Odoru in Cross River allegedly invaded Ofioji Izzi Community at the wee hours of Friday, shooting sporadically and killing about nine persons and burnt over 56 houses.
The head of Ofioji Community, Chief Nwobegu Mbam narrated that during the attack, a pregnant woman he identified as Ukamaka Nwifuru allegedly lost her life while houses belonging to natives of the community were razed to dust by the rampaging fighters.
Mbam said “it was very late on Friday night, we had all gone to bed but suddenly a very terrifying sound was heard in our community and in the ensuing confusion, we ran out only to see many houses on fire and that was when we knew that the people of Cross River have invaded us again. They were shooting our people without mercy; they burnt our houses and carted away our propertyâ€
THISDAY gathered that over 58 lives have been lost while more than 1,000 houses have been reportedly burnt since the crisis erupted.
However, when contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the Ebonyi State Governor, Emmanuel Uzor described the incident as barbaric and called on the law enforcement agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act to face the full wrath of the law.
Umahi said â€œthe Governor made a passionate appeal to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai over the spate of killing of the people of Ebonyi state by their Cross River counterparts. He made the supplication which was well coded by the Chief of Army Staff and what we heard again was this provocative carnage and wantom killing of our people by the Cross River people and a former lawmaker could descend so low to say that the crisis came as a result of Governor Umahiâ€™s appeal for help and deployment of more soldiersâ€.
The governor also urged the security agencies investigate some of the alleged sponsors of the crisis in the Cross River State House of Assembly, who had allegedly been earlier indicted by a white paper on the origin of the intractable crisis in the two communities.
Confirming the incident, spokesman of the Ebonyi state Police Command, DSP Jude Mmadu said except the two death casualties on last Wednesday and Thursday, he was yet to be briefed by the Police Commander of the crisis area on the acclaimed recent hostilities.
Mmadu said, â€œI am hearing nine from your People (journalists). I am only aware of the crisis of Last Wednesday and Thursday where two people were killed. The Police Commander there has not briefed me on the recent one. I will let you know when I finish talking with himâ€.