Dozens has been killed and many injured as a result of violence that broke out in four communities in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State on monday.
Hundreds of women and children have also been displaced in Urugbam, Egbor, Ipene, and Abanwan, four of the 10 communities that make up Erei clan, which predominantly occupies the south-western tip of Cross River near the border with Abia State.
Talking about the cause,an indigene routed the violence to the sale of a parcel of land, used to cultivate palm fruits since 1973.It was reported that the land belongs to Urugbam and Egbor communities, but was leased out by the Egbor community to African Stone Works Ltd.Allegedly,this was done without the consent of the Urugbam and other communities that have been a part of the cultivation for decades.
The security agencies were accused for not responding swiftly to the violence, which they said was still ongoing as of 9:00 a.m this morning.
Besides,14 Brigade Nigerian Army is located a few minutes away across the Abia State border in Ohafia, and residents said soldiers there must have heard gunshots ringing amongst Erei people.
According to Cross River police commissioner, Hafiz Inuwa,over telephone “We have sent our men from divisions and area commands to the communities”.Was yet to have a full report on casualty figures because he had been in Calabar, the state capital, but insisted that the crisis has been contained and no report of escalation from his officers on ground..he said.
The manager of African Stone Works Ltd,Chima Ezeamama, ., told premium times his company concluded purchase of the palm plantation a few months ago, and some elements in the communities have been fomenting trouble ever since.
“The problems are being caused by one or two criminally-minded individuals,” Mr Ezeamama said, declining to name the individuals.
He insisted that the land was “bought legally” and with “due process” followed. Mr Ezeamama said after violence began brewing shortly after the purchase was concluded, his company drew the attention of state authorities to it.
According to Chima,”the state government set up a judicial panel of enquiry chaired by Justice Eyo Ita and he delivered his report last week Thursday,”
Senator Sunday Ugbuoji, from Ebonyi State,who was identified as a major investor in African Stone Works Ltd., and is said to have a prolonged interest in the disputed plantation.However,the senator refused answering calls to the issue.