16 persons have been reportedly killed while 6 others are still missing following a boundary clash between the Usaka Ukwu, Azunchai, Ekpiri Ala-Ala, Ariam Elu Elu communities in Ikwuano council area of Abia State and their Nkari and Obot Akara neighbours in Ini and Obot Akara council areas of Akwa Ibom State.
Other communities in Abia State affected by the boundary clash including Oboni-Upa, Ndiorie, Obugwu and Ekwelu, lament that they now live in fear of their neighbours who always lay ambush and kill their people on their farmlands. They urged the government to save them from the incessant killings and destruction of their properties.
Addressing stakeholders of the affected communities including traditional rulers, town union presidents, and the Chairman of Ikwuano council, Chief Steve Mpamugo, under the auspices of Ariam Usaka Professionals and Ariam Usaka Development Union; President General of Usaka Ukwu Development Union, Chief Boniface Mgbaramuko, that the recent clash started from May 2020 to January 22, 2021, when the Nkari people invaded farms belonging to the Usaka Ukwu community and murdered 16 people without provocation.
He alleged that on January 22, 2021, the Nkari people ambushed and killed one of the three soldiers who were alerted to the crisis and seized their rifles and vehicle.
In his words; “We have lost 16 people during the attack by the Nkari people; 6 are still missing. 5 persons were killed at Ndiorie; they skinned one of them alive and danced around with his head. In 2017, they invaded Usaka Ukwu community. Now, they have cleared our farms; their strategy is to kill us when we visit our farmland.
Famine looms in Ikwuano because we can no longer farm. The latest clash started in May 2020 to January 22, 2021. On May 20, Usaka Ukwu indigenes went to their farm at Igbata and were attacked by armed indigenes of Ibono Okporo Nkari.
They killed one Peter Uwaechegi Ugorji and shot other 5 persons. Ugorji’s corpse was recovered and still kept at the morgue. The Chairman of Ini LGA apologized for the killing of Ugorji and promised that the perpetrator will be fished out while the local government will assist in the burial. When the one of January 22, 2021 crisis started, the Usaka Ukwu people alerted the Army to intervene. But when the Army came, the Nkari people ambushed them and killed one of the soldiers. The unbelievable happened in when Usaka Ukwu indigenes namely Iroegbulam Isaac, Boniface Ugwunna and Iheanacho Orioha went to their ancestral farmland at a place called Oji and Ala-Oku, some people from Ibono Okporo Nkari apprehended and beheaded them and their corpse was taken to Nkari community.
The issue of an unprovoked attack and the calculated moves to grab our lands across the land border of Ikwuano LGA (Usaka Ukwu, Ndiories, Ariam Elu Elu, Ekpiri Ala Ala, Obugwu, Ekwelu and Azunchai) by the people of Ini and Obot Akara LGAs has now intensified to the point where they want to push us out of our ancestors.
“The most annoying aspect of this greedy expansionist agenda of the Akwa Ibomites is the criminal reference and surveying of the Nigerian Army camp sited at the farmlands of Obugwu people in Ikwuano LGA. These community lands of Obugwu, which extends from Ekwelu Ariam Elu Elu to and across the Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene road to Utu in Akwa Ibom was a subject of litigation in the 1950s and which appeal was won by our brothers from Obugwu.
On his part, the Chairman of Ikwuano council, Chief Steve Mpamaugo, who explained that land belongs to the Ikwuano communities, disclosed that the Abia State Deputy Governor, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, has held series of meetings to resolve the lingering crisis and urged the National Boundary Commission, NBC, to make haste to delineate the border to save lives and properties in the area.
He stated that the Akwa Ibom people have continued to take advantage of the peaceful nature of the Ikwuano clan to attack the border communities as a result of lands that belonged to them over the years.
Other stakeholders lamented that famine looms in the area as they could no longer access their farmlands and called for the establishment of military and police patrols along with trouble spots to main law and order in the area.
Abia State government has warned that nobody would be allowed to take any inch of the state’s land as the government is determined to protect the lives and property of its citizens.
Deputy Governor, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, who is the Chairman of the State Boundary Committee, stated this when he visited the Usaka Ukwu and Azunchia Ariam communities in Ikwuano council. He described the renewed attack on innocent citizens and communities along the boundary corridors between Abia and Akwa Ibom states, as regrettable.
Oko Chukwu disclosed that he had since the last report of crisis, in liaison with his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, held series of meetings with the National Boundary Commission, NBC, over the incessant clashes and promised to continue to mount pressure on them till the final delineation of the boundary lines in the area.
He reminded the Ikwuano communities that the government is aware of their situation and enjoined them to maintain peace as the government will protect their lives and property.
In his words; “I have held a series of meetings in liaison with my Akwa Ibom state counterpart, with the National Boundary Commission over the incessant clashes. I will continue to mount pressure on them till the final delineation of the boundary lines in the area. No inch of Abia territory will ever be ceded to other states. Government is aware of your situation. I urge you to be law-abiding and maintain peace.”
Police Public Relations Officer, Abia State Command, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, said the area is calm as the state Deputy Governor, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, has paid series of visits to the affected communities.