By Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki and Okon Bassey
No fewer than 18 persons were killed in a clash between communities in Abia and Akwa Ibom States and attacks on Egedegede, Obegu and Amuzu communities in the Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State by herdsmen.
THISDAY gathered that at least 11 persons were on Monday night killed by suspected herdsmen in Egedegede, Obegu and Amuzu communities in the Ishielu LGA of Ebonyi State.
Also, seven indigenes of Ikpanya clan in Ibiono Ibom LGA of Akwa Ibom State were said to have been killed following renewed hostilities by neighbouring Ugbo community of Arochukwu in Abia State
Although THISDAY counted 11 dead bodies in the Ebonyi State incident, a source from the community put the death toll at 18.
“We are mourning; we are in serious mourning since the late hour of Monday. Herdsmen invaded our communities and massacred our people. As we speak, 18 persons were slaughtered like animals. They macheted many of our people, burnt vehicles, motorcycles and looted our properties,” the residents said.
He listed those killed to include a priest in the Methodist Church, whose car was burnt to ashes.
Chairman of Ishielu Local Government Area, Hon. Sunday Eze and Ebonyi State Commissioner for Business Development, Dr. Stephen Odo, who hail from the local government, yesterday led a team of security agents to the communities and condoled with the bereaved families.
The delegation assured them that the state government would investigate the invasion.
However, at the time of filing the report, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Loveth Odah, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), confirmed six persons dead.
“The commissioner of police delegated a team of policemen for on-the-spot assessment because of peace talks going on in the town. So, the commissioner of police delegated them; deputy commissioner of police in charge of Operations and others went for an on-the-spot assessment to enable us to get the detail of the report. So, they are yet to come back.
“We are still waiting for our men to come back to tell us their findings. I am already preparing a press release on the incident but their report too will assist us in giving you detailed information about it,” Odah said.
The state Governor, Chief David Umahi, accompanied by his deputy, Mr. Kelechi Igwe, and security chiefs in the state have also visited the area.
Also, seven indigenes of Ikpanya clan in Ibiono Ibom LGA of Akwa Ibom State have been killed following a renewed attack by the neighbouring Ugbo community of Arochukwu in Abia State.
The attack was believed to be another of the perennial clashes between Ikpanya and its Arochukwu neighbours over a parcel of land.
THISDAY gathered that six houses were burnt, and four other persons were declared missing. A female member in the community was said to have been gang-raped.
The Clan Head of the community, Chief Isaac Ononson, described the attack as unfortunate.
In an interview with journalists in Ibiono Ibom, he decried the constant attacks on his community.
He said: “Ikpanya shares boundaries with eight villages of Arochukwu in Abia State, but the perennial and incessant crisis is always with the one village, that is the Ugbo people.
“And, it has always been during every farming season that the people of Ugbo will attack our people as they go to farm.
“They will beat our women and chase them away, packing the palm fruits. These people have continued to trouble our people year in, year out.
“Recently, when my people went to cut palm fruits, the Ugbo people went and beat them, destroyed the palm and burnt them,” he said.
According to him, three boys and one girl were arrested and kept in their village square, until the intervention of security operatives from both states.
Ononson expressed worry that the authorities of Ibiono Ibom LGA were not taking any action on the incident.
“I reported the matter to the chairman of the local government area, and he told me that they would have a security meeting, after that, he will answer me. He didn’t say anything other than that.
“He has never visited the area, and there’s no police station. I have been writing to the government, since the reign of the last clan head; we have been writing to the government to give us a police post, but none,” he added.
The native king called on the government to come to the aid of victims by providing them with relief materials.
Presenting the matter on the floor of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, the member representing Ibiono Ibom State Constituency, Hon. Godwin Ekpo, lamented the wanton killings and destruction in Ikpanya.
Ekpo, in his motion, decried the attacks on the people by communities both in Abia and Cross River states.
The lawmaker called on the state emergency management agency to provide relief materials to the affected people.
He also called on the state government to deploy security agencies in the area in order to protect the people.