A protracted tussle over ownership of land between the Yache people of Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State and their Benue State neighbours has now led to the death of about 10 persons and the razing of no fewer than 15 houses in the Cross River community.
But it is hoped that the curfew imposed on Tuesday by the state governor, Senator Prince Bassey Otu may help in checking further escalation of the crisis. But TNN learnt that as at Monday, there were still pockets of attacks.
For fear of being caught in the web, TNN was informed that most of the rural dwellers had fled their homes. As at Tuesday evening, the fleeing natives were yet to return. Yache is now believed to have been deserted.
The curfew, according to the governor’s chief press secretary, Emmanuel Ogbeche, was to prevent further hostilities. But it was not clear if the Yache youths may want to visit the Tiv community for some reprisal.
An angry youth who gave his name as Augustine Odey told reporters that the Tiv youths invaded Yache commmunity last Sunday morning when many people had gone to church.
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He said “a few of our youths went to enquire from the Tiv settlers why they had refused to pay royalties as usual for settling on our land. The Tiv people seized one of our youths, beat him to stupor and he died instantly.
“Of course, that triggered a reprisal. But they were prepared. They attacked and killed seven of our people and burnt 15 houses.”
Rather than revenge, Otu has urged his people to be calm, while also hoping that the curfew on the Ugaga and Igbekurekor communities, as well as in Benekaba Ijama communities in Yala Local Government Area of the state would enable security operatives deal with the situation.
The statement by the governor’s aide said: “Following land and boundary disputes which have resulted in security threats leading to wanton destruction of lives and property, I, hereby, impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Ugaga and Igbekurekor communities of Yala local government area, as well as in Benekaba and Ujama, respectively.
“The curfew is to enable security agencies to deal decisively with the situation in the affected communities and restore normalcy.
“While my administration has directed the State Emergency Management Agency to work out immediate interventions in terms of relief materials, I must reiterate that no community or individual has the monopoly to instigate crisis and threaten the peace of any part of the state. I urge the traditional institutions in the affected communities to immediately work to restore peace and amity as they will be held accountable for any further breakdown of law and order.
“I also urge our citizens in these communities to sheath their swords and give peace a chance. All those in the affected communities are advised, in their interest, to adhere strictly to this directive.”