Judex Okoro, Calabar
Palpable tension has gripped Itigidi community of Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State following alleged murder of a community leader and mortician, Mr. Isong Nkanu.
Nkanu, a.k.a” Isong No Joke,” was allegedly killed by the Nigerian Police, on Monday, when the youths went to Police Station in the community, to protest against the arrest of their chief over the killing of one of Fulani cows.
The arrest of the chief, it was gathered was as a result of the complaint by the Fulani herdsmen, in Itigidi, where they claimed that one of their cattle was shot dead by the community, in 2017.
This development led to a disagreement between the herdsmen and the local community, fuelling speculation of possible outbreak of war.
An eyewitness, Chief Dave Oko, said they thought the matter had been resolved not until Monday when the Itigidi Police Division invited the chiefs and the youth leader on the matter.
Oko said: “When the chiefs and our youths leader were invited, as law-abiding citizens, they honoured the invitation, but on getting to the Police Station they were detained and this infuriated the entire community which led to a peaceful demonstration.
“The youth only went on a peaceful demonstration to register their grievances over the arrest of the arrest of the custodian of the traditions and culture of people without any weapon or arms.
“For the fact that they honoured the invitation in their capacity shows they have respect for the authority and the law. It was in the process of protesting that Isong, one of the community leaders, was allegedly shot dead by police.
“To be honest with you the matter was politicized because we do not see the reason why a matter about a cow that was shot dead in October 2017 will suddenly come up now.”
Wondering why the case should come up now when the herders do not reside in the area, Oko disclosed that the case might have been politicised as the Divisional Police Officer is from Fulani extraction.
Another witness, who simply gave his name as John, said: “It was a demonstration. We did not attack any police man neither did we burn down ant part of the police station.
“It will interest you to know that the building that houses the Itigidi Police station is a rented apartment belonging to an Itigidi man ,so there is no way the place could have been burnt down as it is been insinuated by mischief makers .
“We will never take the laws into our hands rather we want the right thing to be done. Isong has two wives and children that need to be taken care of. We would not sleep until the police man that his that I brought to book.”
Speaking on the matter, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP Irene Ugbo, said some herdsmen had complained, some months back, that indigenes of the Itigidi community killed their cows.
She said: “The youths got wrong information they thought the police at Ugep were taken their chief and youth leader to Calabar not knowing they were only invited for a peace talk and for the matter to be resolved amicably.
“On that strength, we invited the community leader in order to make peace, unfortunately the youths in the community read a different meaning to the invitation of their community leader.
“They became restive and threatened to burn down the Itigidi Police Station. There was intervention by the police and in the process, one person died. They tried to attack the police and the police retaliated it was in the process that one of them died,” the police image maker said.