Two persons were on Wednesday shot dead while 10 houses were burnt and properties worth millions of naira destroyed in resumed hostilities in the decades-long Ebonyi/Cross River boundary dispute.
Also, more than 150 persons have been displaced following another attack on the people of Ochienyim community in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi, allegedly by the neighbouring Adadama community in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State.
A youth leader in the community and relation to one of the deceased, Samuel Nomeh, gave the names of those shot dead by the attackers as Elijah Nomeh and Agashi Onuenyim.
Mr. Nomeh said that at about 9am, about 20 armed peoples invaded their community, shooting sporadically, burning houses and looting properties of the people of Ochienyim.
He said: “This is the fourth in the series of attack by the people of Adadama community against our people since after the Assistant Inspector General of Police in-charge of zone 6 called a meeting of the 2 communities and called for a cease fire”.
“On February 17th 2016, the people of Adadama invaded our community with dangerous weapons but fortunately nobody was killed, we reported the invasion to the police”.
“On the 19th, they also invaded our community but we were able to resist them, because of the appeal of the AIG, we usually report the matter to him and usually we get assurance that such would not happen again but to the surprise of many, on the 8th of March 2016, they came in their numbers shooting and burnt 6 houses that faithful day”.
“While we were still trying to recover from the shock of the invasion, they invaded our community again killing 2 persons; burnt 10 houses, looted our livestock and household appliances and displaced more than 150 persons especially women and children”.
Mr. Nomeh recalled that on the 24th of October 2015, the militants also attacked the community, shot a police officer, burnt 20 houses and abducted some persons from the community.
Mr. Nomeh accused some top government officials of Cross River state of sponsoring the militants arguing that the sort of sophisticated weapons the militants were brandishing could not be accessed from an open market.
Another displaced victim and a mother of 7 who is currently taking refuge in a primary school building with her children, Mary Ogeji, regretted that in all the attacks, the people of the community have remained calm hoping that the relevant authorities would come to their rescue.
Mrs. Ogeji also regretted the government’s lukewarm attitude towards the plight of the people and noted that no government official has ever visited the community to commensurate with the deceased families or the displaced victims.
She further pointed out that more than 600 persons had been displaced by the communal crisis and called on the state government and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to the aid of the displaced persons.
The state deputy governor, Kelechi Igwe, said they were still investigating the alleged attack and killings and urged the people to remain calm while the state government concludes its investigation.
Mr. Igwe, who is the chairman of the Inter boundary committee, said that the committee would soon visit the area to ascertain the level of destruction and meet with the displaced persons.
Police spokesman, George Okafor, said the command was yet to ascertain if anyone was killed or not.
“The village Chairman of Ochienyim community reported that one Elijah Nomeh is missing and men of the command have combed the whole buffer zone and there is no trace of said person or any of his wears to indicate he has been killed. For now we presume he was abducted by the people of Adadama,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that on the faithful day, there was gunshot around the buffer zone yet he decided to go and harvest cassava there, we are not aware of the second person but I can assure you that only one person is still missing.”
The spokesman stated that the command had communicated their Cross River counterpart to ensure the rescue of the missing person.
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