Judex Okoro, Calabar
Eleven persons have been reportedly killed in a communal clash between Okwabang and Beebo communities of Boki East in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State.
While two persons were killed, on Friday, one each from both communities, nine Okuabang natives were hacked to death yesterday morning by Bebo guerrillas.
The two brotherly communities of Okwabang and Beebo communities, with vast amount of the state’s rainforest reserve, have been engaged in an age-long land dispute, leading to destruction of lives and property in spite of repeated peace moves.
Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that the recent act of fratricide was as a result of suspicions that the Beebo community was harvesting commodities at a farm allegedly belonging to an Okwabang man.
It was learnt that following the suspicion, a youth leader from Okwabang, simply identified as Monjok, with his team on surveillance, accosted a group of Beebo people harvesting illegally from his farm and from there disagreement ensued, leading to shoot out and subsequently to killing of one Beebo person.
A witness, who gave his name as Johnson Abang, from Okwabang, said: “We have always disagreed over land matters for decades. But the recent tensions rose following suspicions that the Beebo community was harvesting commodities at a farm allegedly belonging to an Okwabang man.
“This got to a climax on Thursday last week when an Okwabang man accosted a group of Beebo aborigines harvesting from his farm. There and then fight broke out and later open shoot out which led to killing of one one Beebo native.
“The Okwabang man then ran to the community and reported himself. The community then took him to the Bateriko police station and he was kept on custody.”
On getting wind that one Beebo person has been killed in a farm, the youths of Beebo community mobilised and launched a reprisal attack on Okwabang community.
Another witness, Obi Micheal, said: “When news got to Beebo community that one of theirs has been killed in a scuffle by Okwabang person, they quickly organized and ambushed and shot dead one innocent Okwabang man returning from market.
The account disclosed that the traditional rulers of both communities to intervene to no avail as both communities are said to be poised for war, adding that security operatives including the Police and officials of the Nigerian Army have been deployed to both communities since the break out of the hostilities.
But the presence of these security operatives could not restore peace and normalcy as nine persons from Okuabang community were allegedly killed yesterday morning by neighbouring Bebo community,
Sources close to the Okuabang community revealed that the victims were said to have braved the odds and went as a group to tap palm wine that early morning when their assailants, which laid ambush on various pathway ways within around the boundary, attacked and hacked them to death.
The source said out of ten of them only escaped and then ran back to Okuabang community to report the murder of his kinsmen.
following this ugly development, it was further learnt that youths from both communities have resorted to gurrilla tactics, making it difficult for the security personnel to track them down or even know the spot where the fighting is going on.
Speaking with Daily Sun on the incident, Police spokesperson in the state, Mrs. Irene Ugbo, said “immediately we got information about the clash, the Commissioner deployed a crack team of policemen later followed with mopol men to restore peace.”
Iren, who could not confirm any casualty, however, said she would get across to the area command at Ikom to know situation of things, insisting that the police is working round to ensure peace reigns.