Bassey Inyang in Calabar
Violent hostilities have erupted again between the Odukpani Qua community, and their neighbours from New Netim, in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State, leading to the death of three persons.
Information has it that the three persons were killed in Odukpani Qua, when the community was suddenly invaded on Good Friday night by some men armed with guns and other dangerous weapons.
Aside from the death, many people were injured while some residential houses were destroyed by the invaders, whom eye witness account said operated unchallenged for more than one hour.
Though the invaders were not known immediately, but the general suspicion from the people of Odukpani Qua is that the people of New Netim were responsible for the attack, which they believe was a reprisal from their neighbours who are now residing as refuges in other communities.
Both communities have been engaged in a protracted land tussle for ages, with the Supreme Court deciding the ownership tussle in court in favour of New Netim.
In recent years, both communities have engaged each other in open warfare, leading to the deaths of many people, and the destruction of property.
During one of such clashes in 2016, the entire New Netim was sacked, causing the people of the community to flee to nearby villages, and Calabar the state capital, which is about 10 kilometres to the scene of the conflict.
The immediate cause of the 2016 clash was the leadership tussle between Ntufam Raphael Okpa Ita, and Ntufam Bassey Ndifon Eyen JP (alias Loco), who enjoyed the support of Odukpani Qua clan, concerning who was the legitimate village head of New Netim.
Commenting on the Friday night attack, Effiom Bassey, from Odukpani Qua clan said the attack lasted for about 70 minutes before the invaders drove away in the vehicles they came with towards the Calabar- Ikom Highway towards Odukpani junction area.
Effiong Edet also gave an account of the invasion, saying the assailants came late in the night, in three buses, with the front of their buses covered with banners with the inscription â€œDeeper Life Bible church,â€ in order to divert attention from them, more so, as the church was holding an Easter Convention in Odukpani, when the attack took place.
Edet said the invaders entered the Odukpani Qua community at about 10pm, shooting indiscriminately and killing three people in the process. He said some people also seriously injured, and many destroyed by the invaders.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Irene Ugbo, said she could not make any categorical statement on the attack because she was yet to verifiable facts on the Friday night attack.
However, a visit to Odukpani Qua on Saturday revealed that some armed soldiers and policemen have been drafted to the Odukpani Qua clan community to restore normalcy to the area.