One would have thought that after the initiation of peace talks between the erstwhile governors of Akwa Ibom State, Arch. Obong Victor Atah and his Cross River State Counterpart, Donald Duke, to bring to an end an age long Oku Iboku – Ikot Offiong Communal Crisis, all parties to the war should have sheath their swords, but that is not the case.
If we recall, it is evident that from October 18, 2016 the Ikot Offiong killer squad of Cross River State has launched series of unprovoked attacks on the Oku Iboku people and their neighboring Communities in Itu OMA, Itu LGA of Akwa Ibom state, killing and maiming innocent Children, women and men of the area both on their farms, waterways and in their houses.
When this Crisis resurfaced in 2016, yours truly published the aftermath of that horrible incident on 24th April, 2017 and the memories of the corpses of Children, Women and men are still available here for us to view. Ikot Offiong Militias and their Odukpani Collaborators all of the Cross River State did not spare women and Children in their invasion.
Like the Bakasi Peninsular, the oil and Agriculturally rich land waterways between Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, is the source of the attacks. The fact remains that the economically rich area in contention, is a part of Akwa Ibom state, belonging to the boundary Communities of Oku Iboku, Ayadehe and Mbiabo all of Itu LGA of Akwa Ibom State.
The Ikot Offiong people on their part, are said to be descendants of Fishers and farmers from some parts of Cross Rivers state who had come to settle in Odukpani LGA, the direct neighbors of Itu LGA in Akwa Ibom state. The war between them and Oku Iboku people which has engulfed other adjoining communities in Itu LGA is as the realisation that the area is fertile and economically viable.
However, the renewed attacks has taken another dimension as the Ikot Offiong/Odukpani supporters are brandishing sophisticated weapons too expensive for common Fishers and farmers to acquire. Sniffers from Ikot Offiong camps has it that some powerful Politicians in Odukpani LGA, in collaboration with other political actors in Cross River State are their main financiers. They are said to be interested in the disputed area due to recent reports that the land is also rich in crude oil underneath.
The war seems not to have an end in sight as just Tuesday, the killer gang comprising the Ikot Offiong people(who are settlers in Odukpani) and the Original indigenes of Odukpani have joined forces to invade Oku Iboku waterways in speedboats shooting, killing and maiming innocent Oku Iboku people. As we speak, over 10 corpses has so far been recovered with many others still missing. The attack left in it’s wake mourners including the Clan head of Oku Iboku, Etebom (Engr) Ubong Okokon who confirmed to this reporter the death of his brother, Okokon Etim Okokon.
The hour has come for the government both at the State and Federal level to find a lasting solution to the Oku Iboku/Ikot Offiong Crisis which has gone beyond mere Communal Clashes. The Federal and State government should therefore bring relieve materials to the affected Oku Iboku people to sustain them while government is putting action together for a lasting solution.
Nse-Abasi Odiong writes from Uyo
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