Joe Effiong, Uyo
Some unconfirmed number of people has been allegedly shot dead and even more injured at Ikot Adaba fishing community in Oku Iboku clan of Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State by hoodlums suspected to have come from the neighbouring Ikot Offiong community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State.
Our correspondent learned that the attack occurred in the morning of Tuesday just as commercial activities were picking up on the Ikot Adakpan beach.
The communal clash between Ikot Offiong and Oku Iboku dates back to the days of the defunct Eastern region.
Several efforts by the Federal government as well as governments of Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers states to bring the perennial clashes to an end have so far been abortive as each side, sometimes, tacitly supported by authorities of their different states have stuck to their claims of ownership of the land in dispute.
The chairman, Itu local government, Mr. Etetim Onuk, who visited the beach in the company with the army operations officer, 2 Brigade, Uyo, Capt. S. S. Jatau and the Divisional Police Officer of the area, condemned the attacks on the innocent community members who were going about their lawful means of livelihood, but, met their untimely death.
Onuk called on both the state and Federal governments to ensure deployment of more security personnel to the area in order to beef up security along the coastal communities.
A witness of the incident who declined his identity said: “You know in an attack like this, the bodies will start to float say, 24 hours after. So, the search for the missing has started. No corpse has been found yet.
“The gunmen are suspected to be from Ikot Offiong; they came in speed boats and started shooting sporadically; they were prevented from further attacks by the soldiers on the beach who returned fire for fire and they had to retreat. There is a small military post close to the beach. They had already started shooting before getting to the beach,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state police command, Odiko MacDon, has promised that the police would begin investigation soon as the complete information about the incident was made available.
He, however, mentioned that the Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, was very worried about the repeated clashes between both communities in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.
“I haven’t got a brief on that; I have not got the complete information on that, but as we get the report, we will commence a full-scale investigation to determine the cause, and of course look at preventive measures to forestall future occurrences.
“But, basically, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zaki Ahmed, has been very concerned about the situation at Oku Iboku, which is said to have lingered for too long,” Macdon said.
“I think it’s not just security solutions that are needed, but political solutions also. I think it’s high time also, governments of both states, leaders of thought of both states came together, and reviewed the existing relationship between both communities of both sister states, in order to ensure that the needed peace prevails in these areas.”