Buhari Kicks as Communal Clash Claims Eight Lives in Cross River

President Buhari

Death toll rises to eight in Yobe Boko Haram attack

Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja and Bassey Inyang in Calabar

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over reports of violence in four communities in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State, which resulted in the loss of eight lives, injuries and displacement of villagers.This development is coming as the number of soldiers killed in a Boko Haram attack on a military base in Yobe State has risen to eight, security sources said yesterday.

No fewer than eight people were said to have lost their lives following ongoing communal war between Abanwan community and their neigbours in Orugbam, Biase LGA of the state.

The areas, which are under Erei clan, have common borders with Unwana, Ekoli communities in old Afikpo in Ebonyi State.

THISDAY gathered that the death toll increased from the initial three on Monday to eight yesterday as fighting between both communities continued.

Sources said fleeing residents from both communities, lamented that aside from the dead, houses and properties have been destroyed in one of the communities.

A source from Abanwan who pleaded anonymity, told THISDAY that he personally counted five dead bodies who were beheaded when crisis escalated between both communities yesterday.

However, he said no life has been lost in their village, adding however, that three people were injured on Monday when the Orugbam people attempted to overrun Abanwan.

The source confirmed that a detachment of anti-riot policemen have been deployed to restore calm in the warring communities.

“I personally counted five dead bodies that were beheaded today,” the source who spoke from Abanwan told THISDAY on phone. The source said as of yesterday evening youths in the community were keeping vigil to ward off any possible attack from Orugbam.

However, a source from Orugbam was quoted as lamenting that houses have been burnt in their community.

“As I speak with you, the Abanwan people are burning our village. We are on the run and only God knows when all these will stop,” the source who pleaded anonymity, said.

The state police command, while reacting to the clashes, said no live was lost, but admitted that four persons were injured, while several houses were burnt.

A statement signed by the police public relations officer for the command, DSP Irene Ugbo, said “that this information is not just fake, misleading, but a compendium of lies , mischievous and a calculated attempt to perpetually put the people of this extraction in total fear, confusion, and restlessness.

“That the command wishes to state that it was only four people that were injured and some houses burned down.

“The command, therefore, enjoin members of the public to go about their lawful businesses as collective effort is ongoing by the state government, police, and other stakeholders to restore lasting peace to this prolonged crises between this two sister communities.”

The statement urged members of the public to be mindful of the information they give out to the media so as to avoid the dissemination of fake and unconfirmed news.

THISDAY gathered that the conflict between both communities which has lasted for decades stemmed from the struggle over the ownership of a palm estate that lies between them.

Meanwhile, President Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, called for calm and restoration of peace in the affected communities.

The president urged the people of the areas to allow law and order to prevail.

According to President Buhari, “Our communities must be ready to live together in peace since no development can take place in an atmosphere of recurring violence.”

President Buhari, who commended the state government for the steps taken so far towards bringing peace to the areas, also lauded the State Police Command for speedily mobilising its personnel to the affected communities to contain t He urged all stakeholders to cooperate and ensure that lasting peace returned to the affected areas.

In a related development, the number of soldiers killed in a Boko Haram attack on a military base in Yobe State has risen to eight, security sources said yesterday.

Gunmen from Boko Haram faction the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked the base last Saturday in Buni Gari village, 60 kilometres from Damaturu, the state capital.

Two soldiers and six insurgents were initially said to have been killed in the attack. But sources on Tuesday said eight soldiers were killed.

“The death toll is now eight. Six more bodies of soldiers were later recovered and moved to Damaturu,” a military officer, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

A civilian militia fighting jihadists in the area confirmed the recovery of six more bodies of soldiers.

“All the eight dead soldiers are now in the morgue at the Specialist Hospital in Damaturu,” said a spokesperson for the militia, who asked not to be identified for fear of sanction.

Military authorities were not immediately available to comment on the new toll.

The insurgents destroyed an armoured vehicle and stole a truck during the attack.

Sources said air support and reinforcements from a military base in the nearby town of Buni Yadi helped push out the militants from the base.