By Ushang Ewa
At least one life has been lost to the recent communal clash between Kutia and Ukpe communities of Obudu local government area of northern Cross River State.
Obudu is about 300 Kilometers north of Calabar, the state capital and has recently seen an upsurge in criminal activities and communal crisis with the recent which began Friday afternoon triggered by a dispute over the ownership of a Bush Mango tree.
A house in Kutia village was razed alongside a Yam farm with one person suspected to be of Ukpe origin shot dead Saturday, the second day of the hostilities and due to the topography and the sustained shootings despite patrol by officers of the Nigeria Police Force, Obudu Division, the corpse was not retrieved till Monday, 3 days after.
“Our people are not scared of Policemen” a top government official told CrossRiverWatch on phone as findings revealed shootings continued at night until Monday afternoon when troops from the 130 Battalion of the Nigeria Army, Brigadier Godwin Ally cantonment Ogoja arrived and took charge of the situation following an invitation by the State Government with calm serenading the atmosphere presently.
Sources in Government say another youth, a child of an Ukpe apologists who came to fight in the war was fatally shot and as at press time was still unconscious.
Both sides sustained injuries with a council official who did not want his name on print confidently disclosing that “Almost all the patients with gun wounds have being discharged excluding one or two who were fatally injured.”
He could not put a figure on the actual toll of those wounded for fear that he will be exposed since only very few people knew the figure but did admit they were quite a handful.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that some people have been taken in for questioning.
A twist occurred Tuesday when a peace meeting called by the Paramount Ruler of Obudu, Uti Jedy Agba was boycotted by chiefs of Bette origin with only those from the ‘Utukalu’ speaking axis of the local government area in attendance alongside the Community Relations Officer to the Governor, Emmanuel Akwagiobe, Information Officer of the council, Fred Ugbong, the divisional police officer and the Commander of the 130 battalion.
The Boycott CrossRiverWatch gathered is due to a perceived bias on the part of the Paramount Ruler whom it is said has taken decisions that have not been implemented.
There are allegations that due to familiarity, the decisions taken by the Traditional Rulers Council on the Okworotung – Ukwutia crisis have not been implemented hence there was no need to deliberate on any other matter concerning land.
But, no official statement has been released by the state government on the crisis rocking the local government of origin of the current Governor, Benedict Ayade a former legislator who had announced plans to build a Mobile Police Squadron base in a community less than 15 Kilometres away from the current area of dispute but was called off with no reason stated.
Also, no comments have been made by the Traditional Rulers Council concerning the crisis which is one of three that rocked the state touted to be the most peaceful in one week.