By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki
Once again, communities located at the boundaries between Benue and Ebonyi states, on Monday, clashed over farmland, leaving over 15 dead, according to sources.
It was a moment of trepidation and agony for the people of Ojiogu and Okpochiri Ukwagba Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, following an alleged attack by their neighbours within the boundary areas.
Vanguard reliably gathered that some persons were feared dead, many missing and injured, while properties worth millions of naira were destroyed as a result of the ugly incident.
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An eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged that the identities of the attackers of Ngbo people in Ebonyi were both Benue indigenes (warlords) and Ezzas living within the boundary areas.
According to him, “I saw the people that attacked us. They were Benue and Ezza indigenes. What happened is usually an annual development that borders on land dispute.
“This dispute is occasioned by the quest for land, especially for farming by both sides of the divide.
“One person was killed, many missing, many injured while many are now displaced.
“It usually happens every year whenever it is raining season. It is the normal land dispute in the area.
“During the incident, many people scampered for safety. Those people that their houses were destroyed will now become refugees.
“They don’t have anywhere to go to. They will go to their brothers, sisters and in-laws’ houses to seek refuge. Benue people came together to fight Ngbo people. It is from what I saw on ground.”
In his findings, the Coordinator Ngbo North Development Centre, DC, Echem Onyekachi stated that seven corpses had so far been discovered following the incident.
“As at now, we have discovered seven corpses, six injured persons and so many houses and shops were burnt down in many places. Some people are still missing.
“Before now, we have been having clashes with the people of Ado Local Government Area of Benue State. So, it is always during this period that this kind of crisis usually occur.
“I suspect that this crisis was caused by Agila people in Benue State. Anybody calling Ezza is on his or her own.
“Ngbo People and the Ezzas do not have any dispute or crisis. I believe that this crisis is caused by Agila people. It is the issue bordering on land.
“Government should write to the National Boundary Commission, NBC, for land demarcation between Ngbo and Agila people.
“Without government intervention, the crisis will continue. It is over 100 years old.”
We’re still searching for bodies
Also, the Town Union President for Ukwagba community, Eze Moses Ekpe, in a telephone chat with Vanguard, explained that 15 corpses had so far been discovered in the affected communities of Ngbo.
According to him, the search is still on to enable the community get complete details of the number of causalities and those displaced.
“We have alerted the Commissioner of Police and other government agencies. The CP sent some policemen there today.
“The victims are too much. We are still searching. For now, 15 persons were killed, while many are missing; houses burnt and farmlands destroyed.
“We are still discovering dead bodies and that’s why I said, we are still searching. We want government to help us beef up security there. The attack came from Ezza people.”
At the time of filing this report, several calls to the phone lines of the state Commissioner of Police, Garba Aliyu, and the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Chris Anyanwu, were not answered.