Several people were feared missing on Tuesday and many houses set ablaze in renewed boundary hostilities between the people of Ikot Offiong in the Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State and Oku Iboku in the Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The two communities have been at each other’s throat over the control of a piece of land for the past 30 years, leading to loss of lives and properties at both ends.
However, a source, who pleaded anonymity, said that Tuesday’s attackers stormed the Oku Iboku beach in two speed boats and opened fire on residents of the fishing communities, who fled in different directions.
The source said, “Earlier today, Cross River State mercenaries from lkot Offiong finally invaded the Oku lboku beach and succeeded in setting a few shops and houses ablaze.
“The assailants came loaded in two 75 horse power speedboats and engaged in a 25-minute gun battle with the military at the checkpoint.
“The calibre of weapons used by the assailants forced the people to flee for dear lives although the military men were also equipped with machine guns, but they confirmed that the machine guns used by these assailants were more sophisticated. As we speak, our community is not safe.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Macdon, who confirmed the attack, said the Commissioner of Police, Andrew Amiengheme, had mandated the Divisional Police Officer, Itu Division, CSP Celestine Ude, to carry out an assessment of the situation and report back to him.
Macdon, who confirmed that some houses were torched, said until the DPO provided first hand information, the command would not be able to say what actually happened.
He said, “We have received preliminary report about the renewed crisis; no life has been reported lost. We are still awaiting more discreet situational report, because the CP has ordered the DPO of Itu Division to proceed and give him first hand information about the crisis.
“For now, the situation there is under control and there is no cause for alarm. It’s only when the DPO comes back that we can get a comprehensive report. I hear that some houses were ransacked and some shops were burnt, but we have yet to get more information about what really transpired.”