CALABAR- THE Village Head of Ediong, Eki Clan, Odukpani Local Government Area, Cross River State, Chief Okon Essien and ocwe 11 other villagers have been grotesquely murdered in the renewed inter-communal clashes that escalated to no fewer than six communities in the weekend.
Property worth millions of naira, including a Primary Health Care Centre and residence of the immediate past chairman of the local government, Hon Bassey Eyo, Presbyterian Church and primary school were razed to husk.
Among the affected communities were Ediong, Mbiabo, Idim Ndom, Anwa Ibok, Obometiat and Ebebit, which have been ensnared in reprisal and counter reprisal within the past weeks.
How the crisis erupted
It was learnt that trouble started when some youths of Mbiabo community made their way into Ediong forest to harvest timber and were intercepted by their Ediong counterparts, who seized their sawing machines and other items.
Upset by the happenings, the people of Mbiabo spoiled for vengeance, but the timely intervention of the elders of both communities abated the bloodbath and the seized items were returned to the owners.
Killing of Village Head
Unknown to them, they only postponed the doomed day, as some adamant Mbiabo youths reportedly discontented with the truce brokered by the elders of both communities, went behind to kill the Ediong village head and one other villager.
Spread to three more communities
An informant, who simply identified himself as Asuquo, told reporters: “While Mbiabo and Ediong were busy fighting, unidentified persons stormed Anwa Ibok village, burning down buildings and rendering hundreds of people homeless”
“After Anwa Ibok village was burnt down, other communities pointed fingers at Idim Ndom community resulting in another clash that claimed six lives.
“The fight further escalated to Obometiat, the home town of the immediate past chairman of Odukpani, Hon Eyo, where some persons were killed, healthcare centre, primary school and Presbyterian Church set ablaze.
Villagers scamper for safety
It was gathered that large number of villagers fled to Efe Edem and Ekpen Eki respectively for refuge.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Cross River Command, DSP Irene Ugbo, said she was unaware of the killings, but promised to keep us updated.