Benue, Cross River communal conflict claims 7, houses razed

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Communal crisis between Tiv people of Benue State and Yache community of Yala local government area of Cross River State has claimed up to seven persons.

The conflict, which Blueprint reporter gathered, is over farmlands and boundaries between the two communities, also witnessed destruction of houses.

Blueprint sources, who preferred anonimity, said the incident happened on Sunday and that apart from those confirmed dead, other victims, including women and children, from both sides were seriously injured, some with fatal machete cuts on their necks, foreheads and legs.

A community leader in Yache, Augustine Odey Adula, who spoke with Blueprint from the conflict zone through his telephone, said they were in a church service on Sunday when pandemonium ensued.

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“A few of our youths went to enquire from the Tiv settlers why they have refused to pay royalties as usual for settling on our lands. The Tiv people seized one of our youths, beat him to stupor and he died instantly.

“Of course, that triggered a reprisal. But they were prepared. They attacked and killed seven of our people and burnt 15 houses,” he stated.

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Adula added that the Tiv people had actually been paying royalties on the land but decided to stop for no explainable reason.

Secretary of Yala and Cross River North Elders Forum, Barrister Leonard Anyogo, himself a Yache son, also confirmed the killing in an interview but added that security agencies have stepped into the matter.

He said the deputy governors from Benue and Cross River states had earlier met in the same community where they appealed for peace whilst they handle the issue.

Anyogo explained that there has not been a clear cut boundary demarcation, adding that Tiv people had settled on that land for years.

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According to Anyogo, the land in dispute is actually where the boundary of the then Southern and Northern Protectorates was, which really was a Yache land.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Cross River State command, Irene Ugbo, said official report on the matter was yet to be received but assured that the Command would have a meeting on the issue shortly. (Blueprint)

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