Worried by the lingering border clash between the people of Oku Iboku in Itu Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State and their neighbours Ikot Offiong in Odukpani Local Government Area, Cross River State, security has been beefed up in the troubled riverine communities.
Few days ago, suspected hoodlums from Ikot Offiong were said to have invaded some fishing settlements in Oku Iboku, killing no fewer than 8, mostly women traders from Itam, Oku Iboku and Uruan.
According to Edidiong Ekpe, a local vigilante, “on Saturday, April 29, the invaders returned again to attack our communities but we were able to work with security agencies to repel the attackers.”
Although it could not be ascertained whether some casualties were recorded before the invaders could be repelled, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Chukwu Ikechukwu (DSP), who confirmed the latest incident on Sunday said “nobody died.”
He disclosed that two gunboats had been deployed from the Oron/Calabar waters to the Itu axis with a view to warding off the invaders.
Besides, Ikechukwu said the water patrol team was complemented by ground forces permanently stationed on the river fringes to forestall any emergency.
He urged residents of Ikot Ada Akpan and other settlers in the fishing communities to go about their normal businesses as adequate security had been put in place to address the problem.
The boundary matter involving the two states, had been taken up to the Supreme Court, and a worried Governor Udom Emmanuel, who visited the scene a week ago, had appealed for calm.
He wondered why “people should just take the laws into their own hands by always crossing the border to attack others at will,” adding that government would stop at nothing to protect the lives and properties of the citizenry no matter where they reside in the state.
Towards dousing the prevailing tension in the area, Governor Emmanuel disclosed of plans to meet with his Cross River counterpart, Professor Ben Ayade, for a lasting solution to the crisis.
The Deputy Governor, Chief Moses Ekpo, whose office is in charge of boundary matters in the state, had recently met with his Cross River counterpart, Prof. Evara Esu, at the Government House, Calabar, where they discussed some grey areas in the dispute.
By Bernard Tolani Dada