From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The age-long communal clash between the two neighbouring communities of Ediba and Usumutong both in Abi Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River State seems to have reared its ugly head again as 10 persons have been reportedly killed in fresh hostilities.
The victims included one Pastor John from Ediba, a 5-year-old unidentified baby and eight others from Usumutong. The residence of a police officer in Ediba was also reportedly bombed.
Last November, the communities went into full-scale war killing about seven persons and destroying property worth millions of naira.
The recent outbreak of hostilities was said to have started penultimate week when both communities unleashed series of guerilla-war-like attacks on each other.
Sources close to both communities disclosed that most families in the areas have moved to neighbouring communities to seek refuge.
A witness, John Bassey, said: “This recent clash started last week Saturday when reports made rounds that one Pastor John from Ediba and a police officer’s house were bombed in Ediba by Usumutong youths. This didn’t go down well with the Ediba people. But the Usumutong people claimed it was a retaliation of series of attacks on them by the Ediba community who had consistently dealt a deadly blow on them at any slightest provocation.
“The attack on Ediba however created tension and further mobilsation of both communities in readiness for any eventuality. But yesterday morning, the Ediba speople tormed the Usumutong community killing about nine persons and destroying houses and crops.”
An Usumutong person, who simply gave his name as Agbarei, said: “We were ruthlessly attacked this morning, (yesterday), by the Ediba warriors. In the process, a few houses were burnt while about 8 persons and a little baby were killed. But before we could re-group they had fled. I think there was a conspiracy somewhere because we knew they were coming and we prepared. Somehow, they beat us this time and we shall re-strategise. For now I can tell you that elderly people, women and children have all fled to nearby communities for safety. And we appeal that government tshould ake action on this intractable crisis once and for all.”
The Cross River State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Irene Ugbo, when contacted confirmed the incident, saying, “the command had deployed security personnel, but no official death had been reported to us.”