By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
No fewer than three persons are feared dead while four others were abducted in a renewed clash between the people of Usaka Uko in Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State and those in Nkari, Ini Local Government’ Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The long-age crisis, it was gathered, occurred early hours of Friday, 22 January, 2021 when some youths suspected to come from Usaka Uko allegedly ambushed indigenes of Nkari, shot them and cart away their motorcycles.
Recall that similar incident occurred on August 2020 where 11 persons were allegedly killed and scores injured in both camps.
One of the elders in Nkari, Major Tony Isenyeng (Rtd) told members of the Civil Liberties Organisation led by its Chairman, Franklyn Isong who visited the deserted community that the community has become helpless over the continuous blood letting occasioned by the crisis.
He called on the National Boundary Commission to hasten up in giving a clear demarcation of the boundary adding that security should be permanently mounted on the area to forestall further crisis.
Narrating the incident, a former councillor in Nkari ward 4, Hon. Benjamin Christopher Akpan said, “last Friday which was our market day. Our attackers lay ambush and killed our people. They killed my younger brother, even the other of my relative with her husband, we found their corpses this morning. I’m sure they both went to the early market
“Four persons who were said to have passed the road could not be found as I’m speaking with you now. May be they were abducted because we have not seen them. The issue is beyond our community, how can we be living in perpetual fear in our father’s land?.
“The only market we have that sells once in a week was attacked, we are not sure if the market will open this week, and if it doesn’t how can we sustain our mothers and our children. We have become endangered species.”
Also the member representing Ini State Constituency, Emmanuel Bassey who is also the Chief Whip, described the crisis as a guerilla warfare in that the attacking youths would lay ambush and shot anyone who crosses the road calling for full security presence in the area even as the FG was expected to mandate the NBC to urgently do the demarcation of the boundary.
On his efforts so far on the matter, Bassey said, “in my first and second term in the State House of Assembly, I’ve moved a motion of urgent public importance on the need to rescue the people of Nkari. I told the floor on October last year that if the crisis was not addressed it would worsen and deteriorate to the extent that we won’t be able to manage it.
“One of my prayers was that the NBC should come and finish the work they started about seven years ago. What that place needed was a complete demarcation. We wrote to the boundary commission, we wrote to the office of the Deputy governor which caused us to have a meeting last year in Abia State where all the relevant stakeholders from both States were present. The boundary commission agreed to come back later December to do the demarcation and bring a lasting peace.
“Unfortunately January is ending and they didn’t come back as promised. Rather than all the Bloodshedding, let Federal or both State governments take over the place and build industries that would be of benefit to both those from Abia and Akwa Ibom States. In so doing, the problem would be resolved automatically.”
On his part, the Clan Head of the Nkari clan, His Highness Udoette Edon, has called on the state government to construct the Mbiabong/Nkari road in order to link Nkari people to their kids and keens in Akwa Ibom State, noting that lack of motorable road contributes to the attacks the Nkari people are facing from the people of Usaka Uko.
The monarch called on the State and federal government to come to the aid of the people of Nkari by providing them electricity, potable water, primary and secondary school, healthcare facilities. He urged the state and federal government to take over the disputed farmland and use same for investment that will be beneficial to the people.
Also speaking the leader of Nkari Community, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen narrated how a boy that takes care of his aged father was killed on Friday crisis. He said, “as I speak, I’m in pains, I’m mourning the death of innocent young men and women who went their way on that road only for them to be ambushed and killed. About seven of them have been killed including the boy that lived with me, he was the one that was taking care of my old father in the compound. This crisis has been on, it didn’t start today.”
He called on the State government to ensure permanent security presence in Nkari community until the NBC resolve the boundary dispute. He assured Nkari people that the state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel will construct the Nkari road as he promised Nkari people during his (Inuaeyen’s) mother funeral in 2017.
However, the CLO chairman, Isong had called on Governor Emmanuel to look into the plight of Nkari people as the place showed a total disconnect from the basic amenities such as: good road, healthcare centre, school, potable water and electricity which are seen in other parts of the states.
He joined the people to ask the federal government to take over the land and site industries so that everybody will have peace. When contacted through telephone, the Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Odiko Macdon confirmed the crisis saying that normalcy has returned to the area through the efforts of the police Commissioners in both Abia and Akwa Ibom States.
SP Odiko however noted that he would not confirm of any death as his men never saw corpse in the area.
“I’m speaking from official channel, I can’t confirm any death because we didn’t see any dead body anywhere, but there was a crisis at Nkari and the situation is calm now by the efforts of the Commissioner of police and stakeholders from both States.” The PPRO said.