By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Many persons have been reported missing while property worth millions of Naira destroyed in a renewed communal clash between two neighbouring communities of Oku Iboku in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State and Ikot Offiong in Odukpani Local Government area of Cross River State.
The chairman of Itu Local Government Council, Mr. Etetim Onuk who visited the area said armed men traveling on high speed boats on Tuesday shot at fishermen, traders and farmers who were pursuing their legitimate businesses.
Some residents of the area said the age-long dispute over the ownership of fishing area which is on the boundary of Calabar-Itu River appeared to defile several measures adopted by governments from both states to end the crisis.
According to Chief Effiong Ene, a fish merchant, he said the crises “has defied all known traditional and political solutions even before the creation of Akwa Ibom state out of the old Cross River in 1987.”
He said the incident, which he described as renewed is sad, adding that the deceased left for their fishing business at about 10:00 am and never returned.
Those allegedly killed according to Chief Ene include three brothers, all from Oku Iboku. adding that “three dead bodies have been recovered so far from the shore line.
Lamenting the incident also, Bassey Offiong Willams, a native of the neighbouring Ayadehe community, told reporters that “because of the crisis which has claimed several lives, people were warned not to go deep into the sea for fishing”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ekikere Umoh, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Deputy Governor, Obong Moses Ekpo, whose office oversees boundary issues involving states, said he was yet to be fully briefed on the incident.
Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Odiko Macdon, said “we have already commenced preliminary investigation into the incident”.
He said pro-active measures by politicians and security agencies to bring a lasting peace to the crises have been envisaged.
Residents of the area have appealed to state and federal government to ensure that more security personal are deployed to the area to forestall further loss of lives and property.
Arising from the development, price of fish in the market has gone up. A trader at a popular Akpan Andem market in Uyo metropolis lamented the situation saying, fishermen have lost their fishing equipment including boats and nets.
Last year, many houses in the boundary communities were burnt following the escalation of the crisis with many people reported missing.
By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo