No fewer than seven persons were feared dead and 52 houses burnt when the people of Enugu-Otu Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State and Ashonwo/Odeke in Ibaji Local Government Council of Kogi State engaged in a bloody clash over disputed land on their oil–rich borders.
Kogi people have been laying claims to the oil wells in Aguleri–Otu in Anambra State shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the Orient Ptetroleum Refinery in Anambra State last year.
A community leader in Enugu-Otu Aguleri, Chief Anekwe Arinze told reporters Monday that the people of Ashonwo/Odeke allegedly invaded their community at about 1:30am when they had all gone to bed.
He said: “We were sleeping when suddenly we started hearing gunshots everywhere and when some of us came out to know what was happening, we saw our houses on fire.
“Our children and women who tried to escape were shot and many were wounded. We heard them saying the land belongs to them and that we cannot take it. That was when we knew it was Kogi people.
“Some of our men who summoned the courage to pursue them could not get them because when they noticed our prompt response, they ran away. Already we have counted seven corpses. They also kidnapped three men.
“But we cannot fold our hands while they kill our people. They must release them to us hale and hearty.”
Reacting to the killings yesterday in Lokoja, Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State expressed concern over deteriorating security situation in the oil bearing communities.
Wada said the situation required urgent attention of the affected states and the federal government.
He said the situation must be brought under control immediately.
The governor appealed to leaders of the two communities who came to his office to protest the attacks to remain calm and promised to get in touch with his Anambra counterpart to find a lasting solution to the problem.
He also promised to ensure the that the two men abducted by the attackers regained their freedom as soon as possible.
He directed the deputy governor to immediately take up the matter with the appropriate quarters.
Wada promised to ensure the immediate supply of food, water and other basic items to the people displaced from their homes by the attackers.
He said all necessary support would be given to the police for the maintenance of law and order in the communities.
The spokesman for the communities, Mr Daniel Omatola, told the governor that four of their people were killed in series of attacks recently launched by some persons suspected to be from Anambra.
He also said two other persons from the communities were abducted by the attackers whom he said had also destroyed homes and farmlands, thereby displacing hundreds of people from their homes.
Omatola called for urgent intervention of the state government, saying that his people were finding it increasingly difficult to stand the unwarranted attacks and killings of their kinsmen.
However, the Transition Committee Chairman of Anambra East Council area, Mr. Chinedu Obidigwe, who could not confirm the number of casualties lamented the level of destruction in the community by the people suspected to be from Kogi State, saying that it was unfortunate that they took laws into their hands by not going to court to prove their case.
Obidigwe further urged both communities to exercise restraints and avoid taking the laws into their hands.
Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka said he heard of the clash informally, adding that he did not have the details yet.
It was gathered yesterdays that some soldiers had been deployed to the area to maintain law and order.