Several casualties have been reported and properties worth millions of naira destroyed as four communities in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State clashed on Monday and Tuesday over land matters.
It was gathered that the fight between the Abanwan and Orugbam communities claimed three lives on Monday, as the people of Abanwan reportedly launched an attack on Orugbam, while the reprisal carried out by the latter on the former reportedly led to the death of five more people on Tuesday.
Our correspondent also gathered that some houses in Abanwan were also set ablaze by Orugbam during the invasion on Tuesday.
The Orugbam people allegedly hired mercenaries from a neighbouring village, Ekoli, in Biase to carry out the attack.
Sources said the people of Afona also attacked Ibini on Monday, which left several people seriously injured, while many in Ibini fled their village to avoid being attacked.
Speaking about Monday’s attack, a lawyer from one of the warring communities, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the crisis was a result of the “decision by Orugbam people to annex some land in other Erei communities.”
He also said that some months ago, “the Orugbam people shot their way into the Ipene community and destroyed houses.
But when the police arrested five of the ring leaders and put them in detention so as to calm the situation, a highly placed government official ordered their release.
“Just last week, the Orugbam people went to Ipene and burnt their rice farms because they felt that the government was on their side.
This attitude of the Orugbam against all their neighbours, including Ebor, infuriated the Abanwan people, who, after exhausting all peaceful methods known to the Erei land, decided to attack Orugbam.”
On the Ibini and Afono crisis, the source said the squabble between Orugbam and its neighbouring communities “created a problem of loyalty on who to support.
While Ibini supports Abanwan, Afono is supporting Orugbam and when there is problem between Abanwan and Orugbam, Ibini will take sides with the former, while Afono takes sides with the latter.”
However, the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo, confirmed to our correspondent that crisis erupted in the communities on Monday but insisted nobody died.
"Yes, there is a problem in those areas you have mentioned but what I can tell you now is that many people have been seriously injured but nobody has died. Our people are on ground to contain the situation; but so far, nobodyhas died. "