Bassey Inyang in Calabar
No fewer than 12 people were feared killed in the central district of Cross River State following fresh outbreak of violent clashes between communities in the Bahumunu axis of Abi Local Government Area (LGA), particularly Usumutong, Ebijakara and Ebom.
Though the communities in the area have been engaging in frequent violent clashes in the last 13 years, the latest incident, according to sources in the area, and the police, started at about 4.a.m on Wednesday in what was described as a revenge attack by Ebijakara community against their Ebom neighborsu.
The attack led to loss of lives and property, as many houses and business outfits were set ablaze.
The state Commissioner of police Nkereuwem Akpan confirmed the renewed clashes, but said normalcy had returned as the police have dispatched men to the affected communities to maintain the peace.
The Paramount Ruler of Abi Local Government Area, His Royal Majesty, Solomon Osim Edward also confirmed the incident, which occurred as he returned from a meeting of Traditional Rulers in Abuja to his village in Usumutong on Wednesday night.
The royal father told THISDAY that the magnitude of the attacks was frightening.
To nip such incident in the bud, he suggested that the state government should endeavour to ensure the return of Ebijakara people to their ancestral home where they were sacked by the people of Ebom community in 2005.
He explained that he was away from the community for over a week for a meeting of National Council of Paramount Rulers in Abuja.
According to him, the crux of the matter was the urge by the people of Ebijakara to return to their ancestral home.
“Since they were sacked from their ancestral home 13 years ago, they have been staying in neigbouring communities but the majority are staying in Usumutong. The people of Ebom who had issues with them have not been comfortable with them and had attacked Usumutong community last year when my house was completely razed down. Now the people of Ebijakara want to go back to their home and I believe the government should do something in that direction to bring the crisis to an end.”
Asked if he has been able to meet with the state governor on the issues since he was personally affected last year, the traditional ruler answered in the affirmative saying, “during the pre-2019 elections campaign, the governor promised to address the situation and even build a new palace for me but nothing has been done since then.”
However, the state Commissioner for Police, Akpan said the Police have reinforced security in the area to abate the crisis and equally regretted the increasing incidences of communal clashes in the state.
He, however, said he did not have the casualty figure or the number of houses razed.
He also explained that policemen have been deployed to the affected areas.
He called on the elites in the affected communities to arise and foster peace in their communities.