Communities across Akwa Ibom State have, in the last couple of weeks, experienced unusual unrest leading to loss of no fewer than 100 lives.
Recent cases of communal clashes began with land disputes between Enwang/Ukonteghe communities in Mbo LGA, Okopedi/Amamong communities in Okobo LGA, and Ukuko/Umume communities in Urue Offong/Oruko LGA.
These clashes, which went unabated for about two months, claimed no fewer than 20 lives, leading many, including the Civil Liberty Organisation, to suggest the need for the government to take over every land under dispute in the state.
As the torrential rain of clashes in Oro nation reduced to a drizzle, an inter-state boundary dispute erupted in Ikpanya clan, Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, as warriors of Ugbo community in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State reportedly invaded the area.
No fewer than seven people were said to have lost their lives during the initial attack.
Lamenting the plight of the people of Ikpanya, the clan head of the community, His Highness Chief Isaac Ononson, said many were killed while some were missing. He described the attack as unfortunate.
“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.
“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.”
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, gang-raping, and destruction in Ikpanya by the people of the neighbouring Ugbo village in Arochwukwu community of Abia State.
Also, no fewer than eight persons, within the last couple of weeks, have been killed in Okpoto and Nturi communities of Ini LGA, bordering Ikwanno, Arochukwu, and Bende LGAs of Abia State over disputed land boundaries.
According to the chairman, Ini Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Israel Idaisin, members of the bordering Abia communities now ambush the people of Ini and attack them on a daily basis.
He has called on the Federal Government as well as the governments of the affected states to wade into the boundary crisis to forestall further loss of lives.
As though the intra/inter states boundary crisis had not created enough insecurity and tension in the state, the people of Essien Udim, the local government area of the Hon. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, have been sacked by men suspected to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
An indigene who craved anonymity narrated the recent ordeal that members of the community and security personnel deployed to the area have been through.
He said: “It started when an officer of the Nigeria police on night duty was killed at the police station at Nto Nsek, then two police officers were killed and burnt, a vehicle was set ablaze, too, at Ikpe Annang Junction.
“Officers of the Nigeria Customs were also attacked and their vehicle set ablaze at Nsasak-Afaha.
“The Essien Udim police station at Nto Nsek was set ablaze, and then soldiers were killed at Ikot Umoessien Army Base.
“Again, an Assistant Superintendent of Police was killed and burnt inside his house at Ikot Afanga, a vehicle and a motorcycle were set ablaze. The Ikot Akpan village head’s house was set ablaze
“More than 15 soldiers and police officers were also killed at Uwa Junction, three Army Hilux vans were set ablaze, too.
“There were also random shooting and killing, especially of motorists and pregnant women, along the Ikot Ekpene-Aba road.”
The source said the identity of the attackers was revealed when the IPOB flag was hoisted in Essien Udim after one of the major attacks.
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Odiko MacDON, who had confirmed communal hostilities in Ikpanya community of Ibiono Ibom, and the setting ablaze of a police station in Essien Udim, assured that steps were being taken to forestall the rising insecurity in border communities across the state.
“The police are aware and we are doing everything possible to bring the situation under control.
“The CP is working to see that the situation does not escalate. The CP has directed that our men be deployed to the area; our men are on ground as we speak,” he said.