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Natives desert warring C’River communities * Ayade seeks end to clash *Egbona weeps for slain victims, preaches peace

  • Written by  Rose IDO,Calabar
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Natives desert warring C’River communities     * Ayade seeks end to clash     *Egbona weeps for slain victims, preaches peace

Some natives of the two warring communities of Abi Local Government of Cross River State-Usumutong and Ebom-have deserted their homes for fear of reprisals. The crisis which broke out on Sunday has already led to the killing of two people-a father and his son.

The headless bodies were discovered in a farm in Ebom community. The clash is also believed to have led to the death of two others.

It was gathered that the renewed crisis started at an early hours of Saturday when Usumutung people allegedly ambushed the people of Ebom community in their farms, beheading one Mr. Oti Ato and his son, Sunday, while his grandson, Michael narrowly escaped, but with bullet wounds.

The community head of Ebom, Eval Sunday Obite, told newsmen that three persons were still missing as the headless bodies of victims have been recovered with the help of soldiers.

Narrating the incident, Obite said Ato and his family were attacked in the farm by the Usumutong people while harvesting cassava. “Michael is receiving treatment in a hospital at Itigidi due to bullet wounds he sustained while hiding in the bush, he said, and explained that he saw them cutting off his  grandfather and father's head from his hiding place in the bush.

"We believed initially that with the presence of soldiers around, peace had returned, but again we have been proven wrong, not only do they steal from our farm produce, they have started by killing a father and his son in the presence of the wife and son".

Another member of the community, Mr. Daniel Nelson also said things looked calm initially when soldiers deployed to the area newly arrived last year until this recent attack. He said at the moment security operatives were doing their best to return peace to the communities.

Meanwhile, the state governor, Professor Ben Ayade has already issues a stern warning to the communities, urging them to sheath their swords or face the wrath of government.

The governor described as unacceptable, the renewed hostilities in Abi local government area of the state.

The warning was contained in a release signed by Mr. Christian Ita, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor.

It quoted the governor as lamenting the renewed hostilities between Usumutong and Ebom communities in Abi local government area.

"It is heart-rending to note that at a  time government is working on consolidating the prevailing peace in Cross River, some communities have chosen to go back to the trenches", Ayade rued.

The release further quoted Professor Ayade as asking the warring communities to tow the path of peace by ceasing hostilities.

"While security personnel have been mobilized to the troubled communities to de-escalate the crisis, I hereby call on the warring sides to halt every act of aggression.

“Government will not view with kindness further loss of lives and properties occasioned by avoidable communal crisis anywhere in the state", the governor warned.

This came just as the House of Representatives member for Abi/ Yakurr Federal Constituency, Dr Alex Egbona literally wept over the crisis involving the Usumutong and Ebom communities.

Egbona said in a statement on Sunday that he was deeply touched by the news of the killing.

He said: "I feel pained and deeply touched by the sad news of the beheading of a father and his son as a result of a clash between communities in my constituency.

"My heart bleeds over this. I am more pained because as a man of peace, I have taken deliberate steps to end all forms of communal crisis, either between communities within our state, or involving communities in our state and our neighbours.

"We do not have anything to gain by fighting our kinsmen or even going to the extreme of taking lives.  We brought nothing to this world and will therefore go with nothing. So, why should we take lives because of land or whatever?

"I condemn the killing totally. We cannot condone this kind of barbaric lifestyle. Those behind this must therefore be made to pay for their actions.

"I urge our security operatives to be on top of their game, arrest those promoting and getting involved in this dastardly act and ensure that they face the wrath of the law.

"Let me also urge our people in the two warring communities to keep the peace and avoid further hostilities. I will on my own interface with the state government and relevant agencies, as well as security agents, to ensure that lasting peace reigns in our constituency. Nobody should take the laws into their hands."

He sympathised with the bereaved families and urged them not to think of any format of reprisal.

 

 

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