13 persons missing after attack by armed men
They prevent us from going to fish, farm, etc – Villagers
Village head appeals to federal, state governments for security, relief materials
By Ike Uchechukwu
UBAMBAT OKOYONG—NATIVES of Ubambat Okoyong community, Odukpani Local Government Area, Cross River State, have cried out that they have been put under siege by warlords allegedly from Oku Iboku, Akwa Ibom State, who unleashed mayhem on them, last week, culminating in the disappearance of more than 13 villagers and devastation of properties worth millions of naira.
The inhabitants, who spoke to NDV, disclosed that the people were defenceless and being prevented from fishing, farming and other business activities by armed men because they offered shelter to fleeing indigenes of Ikot Offiong that is embroiled in a land tussle with Okuiboku.
Why Oku Iboku is attacking us—Eyo
Secretary of Ubambat Elders Council, Mr. Michael Eyo, who corroborated the claim, stated: “Oku Iboku people are claiming that Ubambat Okoyong is supporting Ikot Offiong in their fight against them and to this end, they (Oku Iboku) have vowed to continually launch attacks on any community that gives Ikot Offiong refuge, not that we have any issue with them.”
The community leader added: “We have been threatened severally; there are many people who have been declared missing since the attack, last week. In fact, more than 13 people cannot be accounted for and a lot of our property have been destroyed. Our only crime is that we gave refuge to Ikot Offiong people.”
Forsaken: When NDV visited Ubambat community, the town was basically deserted as many people had migrated for fear of reprisals.
Several houses, shops, motorcycles, fishing equipment like canoes, nets and boat engines were razed.
A villager, who pleaded anonymity, said: “What they had in mind was complete ethnic cleansing because they were armed to the teeth and they moved from one house to the other destroying everything in a guerrilla style. How did they get the kind of weapons they used? Our saving grace was that many people were still on their farms, so a lot of people were not in the houses, many more would have died or disappeared just like the 13 persons.”
It’s agonizing — Ekpenyong
The village head, Chief Eyo Ekpenyong, decried the terror that was let loose on his people, as well as their displacement from their ancestral home, adding: “It is painful and inhumane.”
He called for immediate intervention by both the federal and state governments and provision of relief materials, saying that a lot of refugees were now roaming neighbouring communities aimlessly without food.
“The government needs to do something very urgent to ameliorate the suffering and hardship caused by the attack and also find a place for them to resettle as well as provide security in the area because the people of Oku Iboku are extending the crisis to places they feel Ikot Offiong people are taking refuge,” he said.
Chief Ekpenyong said, “They should send in men covertly to the place to monitor what is really happening, it will go a long way to bringing peace, mechanisms should also be put in place to return the warring communities to the path of peace.