About 18 persons have been killed while over 300 rendered homeless following inter-communal war between the people of Wanikade and their Wanhihem neighbours in Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State.
The bloody clash which started since Wednesday last week was caused by a disagreement over the ownership of a piece of farm situated in the boundary of the two sister communities left five villages on both sides razed down and several farms destroyed.
A Monarch in the area, Chief Obok Okem, told newsmen that a man in the village of Utolo from the Wanikade community cleared a portion of land thought to be his own but one of his Wanihem neighbour said the land belonged to him and went ahead to cultivate on the land cleared by the Wanikade person which led to heated disagreement between the two and from there youths from both communities waded in.
“The youths from Wanikade leveled the heaps planted by the Wanihem people on the piece of land cleared by the Wanikade person and from there the youths from both sides began a grandstanding which eventually led to a fight”.
He said the crisis degenerated from exchange of blows and throwing of stones to the use of guns and machetes by youths and after several days of fighting, many people were killed and over two hundred houses burnt down.
He said despite the swift intervention of elders on both sides the crisis did not abate, adding that it snowballed into a full blown war which resulted in wanton killings and burning down of houses on both sides.
“Over five villages on both sides have been burned with property worth millions of naira lost in the process effectively rendering over three thousand people homeless”
James Onah, a resident of the area, said the clash continued until Friday when soldiers were dispatched to the area after a team of policemen from Okpoma Area Command could not contain the rampaging youths who were bent on causing more havoc.
“Soldiers have been able to stop the fighting for now after the police could not do so but so much destruction has been inflicted on both villages” Onah said.
State Security Adviser to the governor of Cross River State, Mr Jude Ngaji, said Soldiers from the Brigadier Ally cantonment in Ogoja had succeeded in restoring normalcy in the area.