By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
FEAR has gripped residents of the Mbo local government area and its environs following a renewed clash between the Ukontighe Uda community and the Uko Akpan village in Enwang over a boundary dispute.
The fears according to the Saturday Vanguard investigation followed the escalation of the violence to other communities in the local government areas in the latest clash that erupted in the area on Wednesday, February, 24.
The communities engaged in the perennial boundary dispute are the Ukontighe Uda village and the Uko Akpan Enwang community in the Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom state.
And Enwang community is where the local government Secretariat is situated.
Reportedly, more than three persons were killed in the latest clash including a 3-months-old baby and scores wounded including security personnel drafted to the area to calm the situation.
It was gathered that the houses of a retired Inspector General of Police (IGP), late chief Etim Inyang and former member of the National Assembly Martin Effiong were among several others torched during the clash.
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A resident of Unyenghe, one of the communities close to Enwang community, Mr James Okon who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on Friday from an undisclosed place where he is currently taking refuge, said his family fled their home for fear of the unknown.
Okon said currently there are fears that the Ukontighe warriors having overpowered the Enwang warriors and took over the whole Enwang community could extend their anger to neighbouring communities.
According to him, the latest violence started when one Ukontighe man, a businessman residing in the Ibaka community boarded a vehicle on Wednesday and was on his usual business trip to Oron when the vehicle was a way-laid vehicle and dragged out of the vehicle and later killed him.
He narrated, “People usually go to Oron town from Ibaka for business, and you must pass through Enwang. So I was told that on Wednesday when the vehicle carrying passengers from Ibaka to Oron was way-laid by Enwang warriors at the junction, a passenger inside the vehicle pointed at that man, that he is from Ukontighe village.
“The Enwang Warriors now dragged him out of the vehicle and started they beat him until he became unconscious. And then they forced him to call his people and say a goodbye message to them. He called both the youth president of Ibaka where he resides and that of Ukontighe where he comes from.
“So the Ukontighe youth president then called the youth president of Enwang and gave him 30minutes to release the man. And I learned that the Ukontighe youths waited and after 30mimutes nothing happened, they prepared and invaded the Enwang community. That is how the whole thing started. And this time they didn’t stop at Uko Akpan, they penetrated other villages up to the Junction.
” The situation is scaring and sad. As we speak the place is deserted, economic activities have been grounded because traders that go to Oron or even neighbouring Esit Eket local government for business are stranded.
I was even told that a woman out of fear abandoned her 3-months-old baby and fled safety during the fight.
“Because of the crisis, the only access road from Ibaka to Oron has been blocked. The situation is that bad. I am worried. Nobody had thought that there would be another crisis after the Traditional Rulers and relevant security agencies waded into the January crisis to ensure peace returned to the area”
It was gathered that Enwang warriors had stoked up the anger of the Ukontighe warriors when they eventually beheaded the businessman.
In fact, it was further gathered that even the January crisis where an Esit Eket indigene was killed by a stray bullet had created enmity between the people of Esit Eket LGA and Mbo people until Traditional rulers from Mbo decided to Wade in last week to resolve the misunderstanding.
Meanwhile Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Macdon disclosed on Friday said the command has arrested five suspects in connection with the fresh crisis, and 18 expended cartridges, one live 7.62mm ammunition and 5 expended 7.62mm ammunition were recovered by the police from the suspects
“The truth of the matter is that we have arrested five suspects in connection with the latest escalation. We have also recovered 18 expended cartridges, one live 7.62mm ammunition,5 expended 7.62mm ammunition.
“What really led to this recent crisis is the unconfirmed report that youths of a particular community drag a member of the other community into the bush and killed him. This led to the issue where some houses were destroyed. I’m not aware of any army officer or policeman wounded in the crisis
“The commissioner of police has ordered the reinforcement of more officers to dominate the scene and has personally visited the area to engage with critical stakeholders. As we speak normalcy has returned and we hope that it will be sustained.
“We’re praying that all options should be brought to the table so that lasting peace would be achieved between the two warring communities,” Macdon said.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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