By Chioma Onuegbu, Dennis Udoma Emmanuel Ayungbe
Uyo—There is tension in Oku Iboku, Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, following fears of renewed attacks on the community by their neighbours, Ikot Offiong community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross Rivers State, over the perennial boundary dispute.
It will be recalled that armed youths from Ikot Offiong had attacked Oku Iboku villagers last Friday leaving scores dead and many wounded.
Vanguard gathered that the community was attacked again yesterday morning about 9a.m., with many youths wounded.
When Vanguard visited the area, a heavy presence of operatives of the Army and Police was sighted around the Itu-Calabar bridge and Oku Iboku beach areas.
Some residents disclosed that most of their people have started fleeing the community for fear of the unknown.
Mr. Edet Etim, who lost his 29-year-old son during the Friday attack, said they got information on Sunday that Ikot Offiong people were planning to attack them again but they did not know that it would be so soon.
He said: “We are still mourning our loved ones who were killed last Friday and now this fresh attack has occured. If government does nothing to address this problem then it means nobody is safe here. May be one day they will come and kill us all.”
Similarly, Chief Asuquo Ebong, village head of Anne, said: “I am not happy seeing my people killed like chickens every day by Ikot Offiong people. So, I am appealing to the state government to rescue us from this situation as soon as possible.”
Also, three youths identified as Maurice Okon (26) Obio Inyang (30) and Effiong Ita (27), who sustained injuries while fleeing the community, commended the vigilante for coming to their rescue.
Narrating their ordeals, yesterday, Inyang said that they were afraid and helpless when three of them sighted the Ikot Offiong youths approaching in their speed boats and shooting sporadically.
“Three of us went to the farm together and we saw them in their speed boat as they opened fire on us. We did not know the direction to run to but we were lucky our vigilante group came to our rescue. I know that some other people went to farm this morning (yesterday), but for now we don’t know if they are dead or alive. We learned that two youths that were also rescued by the vigilante had been rushed to the hospital.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ability Emah, Chairman, Oku Iboku Clan Council, said that about 29 persons from their communities were still missing after the Friday attack adding that no fewer than 15 children died in the incident.
Also, some of the survivors of the attack on Oku Iboku community, Mr. Joseph Michael form Ikot Onoi, Ayadehe and Ukpon Etukudo from Ikot Abiyak, in Oku Iboku, yesterday, narrated that they were doing their businesses when they were attacked.
Also, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State had on Sunday, called on youths of Oku Iboku to cooperate with security agencies drafted to the area to contain the crisis to safeguard lives and property.
Emmanuel, during his visit to the community following the recent attack, urged the youths to refrain from further hostilities and be law-abiding, assuring that security personnel were there to ensure their safety.
“When you are law-abiding, it is very easy for the law to protect you,” he said, adding that, governments of the two neighbouring states were working out modalities to amicably resolve the conflict.
“As a responsible government, we will make sure that we protect lives and property so that this does not happen again,” he said, describing the attacks by the people of Ikot Offiong as an unwarranted aggression against the people of Oku-Iboku in Akwa Ibom.
He disclosed that the issue was before the Supreme Court.