IKOT EDAH—ONE person was killed, 60 houses razed and over 400 persons rendered homeless in a disgraceful inter-communal crisis that broke out, weekend, between youths of Ikot Umiang and Ikot Edah communities, Nkpat Enin Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
Niger Delta Voice learned that the fracas that caused extensive havoc to the residences of the Village Head of Ikot Edah, Ete Idung Sunday Usoro, and councillor representing Ikpa Ikono, Ward 2, Mr. Nkreuwem James, was kindled by a dispute between two boys from both communities over a girlfriend.
Besides property running into millions of naira and money that were looted, about 40 motorcycles, bicycles and ancestral heritages were torched. Two cars belonging to the monarch were also destroyed.
A dependable source told Niger Delta Voice: “A young man, who hails from Ikot Umiang and residing in Ikot Edah had a minor misunderstanding with his friend, an indigene of Ikot Edah, over a lady both of them had dated previously.
“What really transpired between them is not clear. But it was so serious that in the evening of the following day, when the Ikot Umiang boy was passing through Ikot Edah after his normal business, the Ikot Edah-based lover boy and his gang waylaid and stabbed him to death.”
In an apparent reprisal attack, youths of Ikot Umiang invaded Ikot Edah at about 8a.m with guns, machetes, axes, fuel and other dangerous weapons, burning all the houses in the community.
The invaders manhandled aged people, especially the women who tried to plead with them.
Our source said inhabitants of the community, mainly peasant farmers and traders, were setting out for their farms and shops on the ill-fated day, when the invaders stormed the town.
A villager, Aniete Bradforth, said: “The Ikot Umiang youths came in like soldier ants with guns, petrol and matches and before we knew what was happening, this house (pointing to a residence) was on fire.
“They beat up a 90-year-old woman, who lives here, leaving her with injuries all over her body.”
The village head, Usoro, said: “I watched my house set ablaze with N2 million cash inside.”
Usoro said he was on his way to the Police Station to lodge a report that a corpse was abandoned in the community when armed youths of Ikot Umiang invaded Ikot Edah.
He said the attacking youths were armed, but that police were able to make some arrests.
A fish seller, who is in her 60s, Mmayen Bassey, bemoaned: “I have been keeping money in my wrapper for over 10 years to buy a piece of land. It has amounted to over N200,000. Today, I am as good as dead as they all got burnt; not even to talk about my goods.”
Niger Delta Voice observed during a visit that the houses in Ikot Edah were completely razed. There was uneasy calm in the community as victims wailed and called on government and public-spirited individuals to come to their assistance.
Ikot Umiang deserted
At Ikot Umiang, it was discovered that the community had been deserted by villagers for fear of possible arrest by the police, while economic activities and social life in the town have been paralyzed.
Chairman of Mkpat Enin Local Government, Mr. Eph-raim Akpan and Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in-charge of the area, CSP Abri, rushed to the community as soon as report of the incident reached them, to ascertain the cause of the fracas and extent of damage.
They were accompanied by Mr. James, Deputy Leader of the council’s legislature, Ekaette Akpan, Chief Whip, Mr.Isaac Akpan, councillors for Ibiaku, ward 2, Mr. Ini George and ward 4, Mr. Michael Daniel.
For over five hours, they trudged through the ruins of the devastation with the chairman practically weeping.
Council boss sues for peace
Mr. Akpan cautioned the warring parties to maintain calm, while security agents carried out investigations into the matter with a view to bringing the guilty to book.
The council boss, who described the situation as heart-breaking and sorrowful, however, assured that no culprit would escape the wrath of the law.
He said: “There is no situation that would warrant this barbaric act at the beginning of the year. This is heart breaking and I cannot hold back tears. But as I said, there is no point retaliating as the police, who have done very well already, will investigate the matter and bring all the culprits to book.
“On our part as a government, the council will ameliorate the situation and as a matter of fact, 12 hours from now, we will assemble all villagers of this community and give them some relief materials.
“It is pathetic that the only property of these people now have are the clothes on their body, but we will do our best.”
He said a committee would be set up to evaluate the mayhem and come up with intermediary measures to cushion the sufferings of the affected persons.
Over 25 suspects nabbed
A police officer said police were making plans to evacuate the remains of the Ikot Umiang youth that was killed in Ikot Edah, adding that about 25 persons have been arrested in connection with the crisis.
He disclosed that the arrested suspects were handed over to men of the Criminal Investigation Department, CID, Uyo.