Communal Clash in Niger Delta over Oil Wells and Farm Lands

Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Cross Rivers State Emergency Management Agency CSEMA have escaped death by the whiskers when they were attacked by some armed men numbering about 100 along the Adeng River in Ikpanya in Ibiono LGa of Akwa Ibom State.

The Officials were heading to the recently besieged village of Ntan Obu in Odukpani LGA of Cross River State for an on-the-spot assessment where about 5,000 displaced people including women and children, victims of recent clash in the area have been rendered homeless.

The communal clash started on February 17, 2010 when one of the communities whose people are mostly fishermen and farmers was besieged by their neighbour who burnt down houses and killed innocent people.

The armed men were said to have opened fire before the officials of the humanitarian agencies made a U- turn in the speed boat and returned to Itu LGA.

No one could give the genesis of the latest crisis between neighbouring villages in Cross River and Akwa Ibom State. However a source told Economic Confidential it may not be unconnected with disagreement over oil wells and farmland land between the two villages that had co-existed for more than a century.

It was gathered that youths from one of the communities have sealed off the waterways leading to Ntan Obu lurking in wait for anyone attempting to enter or leave the village. According to an eyewitness the invaders had sworn to annihilate the entire community and take possession of the land.

Reports also indicate that in spite of the heavy mobile police presence attempts have often been made by the war mongers to invade the village after the initial attack which completely destroyed the village but were successfully waded off by the police.

The Head of Ntan Obu village, Chief Julius Esuabangha has appealed to the law enforcement agencies to intensify efforts at providing security in the area to avoid an escalation of the crisis. Adding that it would be foolhardy for anyone to take the law abiding nature of the people of the community for granted.

In a remark, the boss of Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Vincent Aquah described the attitude of the assailants towards the humanitarian agencies as unwarranted and condemnable. He said the humanitarian bodies in the spirit of civility should be allowed even in war situations to carry out their functions unhindered because they have statutory responsibilities of catering for the displaced people and are not parties to any of the warring groups in the communal clash. 

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