As more deaths are recorded at Mkpani, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State, where the villagers have been fighting over a chieftaincy stool, scores have fled the area. The fighters have also set some of the deserted houses ablaze.
The House of Representatives member representing the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency, Dr Alex Egbona is however disturbed by the development and has pleaded for calm, while also urging security agencies to take charge and apprehend all those behind the carnage.
In a statement on Sunday, Egbona said “my heart bled today as I heard of the rift between two villages of Mkpani in the Yakurr Local Government, being part of my constituency.
“Information reaching me is that up to 10 people have died so far, as a result of the clash over chieftaincy seat.
“I am really disturbed by this piece of news. I feel for victims of this clash. My heart goes to the bereaved families. But it is shameful that we tend to value mundane things like chieftaincy stool than human lives.
“As representative of the Mkpani people in the National Assembly, I am pleading with the warring villages to sheath their sword and allow peace to reign.
“There is nothing in this life that can be exchanged for the life of a single individual. These barbaric lifestyles must stop.
“To kill one another because of a chieftaincy seat or any other thing for that matter cannot be a solution to any problem. Life, once taken, cannot be brought back. Please let the killings stop.
“I am urging security operatives in the state to be on top of their game at this point. Everything must be done to ensure an end to this malaise. All those found to be responsible for this hooliganism must be apprehended and made to face the wrath of the law. Enough of bloodshed in our land.”
TNN learnt that the skirmish started two weeks ago when some unidentified persons believed to be loyal to one of the two contending local chiefs, prevented the other group from peacefully celebrating the annual new yam festival.
According to an online news platform, invited guests were even barred from attending the event. Not to be outdone, the other faction responded by preventing too, as her own form of retaliation, the local “Obam” war dance and masquerade from setting its foot on some parts of Mkpani.
It was gathered that in the ensuing melee, two persons were shot and killed on the spot, paving the way for a violent chain of reaction that have since led to several indigenes of the area, deserting the place. A former councillor in the area was said to have lost his private residence which was brought down by a mob.
Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Eteng Williams, an indigene of the community in an interview with journalists said he was deeply saddened by the incident. “We cannot continue to embrace violence when other Yakurr communities are embracing peace and progress. Our people must understand that no community can develop in the midst of conflict, especially when it is self inflicted, I am suing for peace”.
“Our community is torn between Obol Sunday and Obol Oden, the two traditional rulers supported by politicians who relentlessly flex muscles. When it suits them, they push their puppets into going up against each other. A community that has two contending traditional rulers will inevitably go to war. Men, women and children have deserted our community, for no fault of theirs, with no homes or property to return to. This is our painful lot and it is very sad”, one source in Mkpani maintained to us.