Seven persons have been killed and five declared missing over a land dispute between Enwang and Uko-Nteghe in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Two of those killed, were from neighbouring communities of Ofi and Akprakpran respectively. They were said to be going to Ibaka, another neighbouring community, when they were ambushed and killed by one of the warring communities.
Also, a youth identified simply as Ekuwem from Orukim Uda community was also said to have been abducted by youths suspected to be from Enwang and has not been seen since January 4 when the crisis erupted.
Apart from the casualties, Enwang and Uko-Nteghe communities lost properties estimated at millions of naira.
i learnt that no fewer that 37 persons sustained varying degrees of injuries with eight of them under critical condition.
A victim from Uko-Nteghe, Nse Ntuen, said Enwang youths invaded Uko-Nteghe with some people in army uniform, overran the community and destroyed everything in sight.
“Enwang youths took us by surprise. The soldiers they came with, we thought were for peaceful mission. Before we knew it, there was wanton destruction in our community,” Ntuen said.
Another victim from Enwang, Mr. Etim Edet, said he came back to meet his home vandalised, adding that he had since abandoned home.
He said, “I was not around when youths from Uko-Nteghe entered Enwang and started killing people, destroying houses. I only came back to see my house vandalised.
“All of us from this area have left our community for fear of attack from Uko-Nteghe. These are bullets injury I had from a previous attack by Uko-Ntegh’s youths.”
A community leader in Uko-Nteghe, Mr. Etim Effiong, said the matter was a long standing dispute, adding the crisis was actually a problem between two families in Uko-Nteghe and Enwang.
“The problem is a long standing problem. This case is not always between the entire Uko-Nteghe and the entire Enwang community.
“There is a particular family called Uko-Akai, that is, in Uko-Nteghe, and there is another, Uko-Akai, at Uko-Akpan, Enwang.
“These two villages are of the same parents. The other faction of Uko-Akai in Uko-Nteghe migrated to Enwang and lives there. These ones at Enwang now rejected them.
“Even within them, they are bearing the same family names like Otu, Udo-oyo, Akene, and Antai. Both of them are sharing these family names.
“The people of Uko-Nteghe said those at Enwang have no right to be farming at Uko-Nteghe because the place is no longer their ancestral home.
“There are five families in Uko Akpan, it is only that family which migrated from Uko-Nteghe (Uko-Akai) that farm in Uko-Nteghe territory.
“Every year there must be problem: this case had been settled in courts in1909, 1927, 2009/2010 restraining them from coming into Uko-Nteghe land.”
All attempts to speak to Enwang leaders proved abortive as they keep shifting appointment date given to our correspondent.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Etim Dickson, said he was in Abuja. He told our correspondent that he had called the command to verify the issue, but the command was not aware of the incident.
He said, “I’m in Abuja. I have called the command to verify the issue, but they are not aware.”
But a source at Mbo Police Division said the police did try to bring the situation under control but were hampered by lack of enough personnel and firearms.
“Joint task forces have been deployed in the two affected communities to assist us. You can see them around; we can assure the indigenes of full protection,” he said.
A former transitional chairman, Mbo LGA, Mr. Okpo Ekere, was shot on the stomach on May 20, 2012 when he went to broker peace between the two warring communities of Ebughu and Effiat (all in Mbo LGA) following the killings of Ebughu men by youths suspected to be from Effiat.
Ekere eventually died on July 26, 2012 in Saudia Arabia while on his way to India for treatment in an air ambulance hired by state government