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Communal Crisis

Notable Violence in Yakurr and Abi Communities of Cross River State

This post seeks to enlighten the reader about some of the sad instances of violence that have occured in some parts of the Yakurr and Abi communities and how some of them were successfully resolved.

When a group of people stay together, at some point, argument and dispute are bound to arise at some point and if such dispute is not properly managed, it could escalate to something more serious like violence.

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Violence is an act of physical abuse that is aimed at hurting, injuring or even killing the individual being physically attacked.

The major source of these violence scenarios are understood to have generated from mainly boundary conflicts. The issue with boundary conflict is that it tends to cause a lot of mayhem, confusion and distrust among the people which in turn increases the number of displaced indigenes who tend to suffer the most as a result of these conflicts.

In Ugep and Idomi townships, the purpose of boundary conflicts within these terrains have been to either increase, control or monopolize its interest on farmland resources. Farming and agriculture are basically the major occupation of the people within these communities and they depend heavily on farmlands for their survival.

Ugep has been identified as a rather troublesome clan after engaging in various conflicts concerning land with most of the clans around it which include Mkpani, Idimi, Ekori and Adim.

However, the most notable was the conflict with Idimi which this piece will center on. This boundary conflict began as far back as 1928 when the two communities were still under Ugep township.

Causes of the Conflict

There are three major causes of these conflict which are :

(a) the two communities had failed to define the boundaries between them, it was notices that even after the unfortunate tragic episode that happened in 1929 that led to a lot of deaths, the people had still failed to demarcate the boundaries between them.

Everyone was free to farm anywhere they wished either on Ugep or Idomi because they supposedly looked at each other like brothers and sisters. However, this wasn’t the case as it ended up being the genesis of the whole fracas of the 1992 land conflict between the communities.

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(b) After the 1929 episode, there were some peace initiatives made by some chiefs of the two communities. Unfortunately, the communities didn’t completely embrace the initiatives as they continually acted like no agreement had been reached. Most of the farm products were uprooted and there was serious molestation and brutality of persons.

(c) there were also tons of killings, kidnappings from members of both communities. Sadly, it was mainly farmers that were on the receiving end of all that was claimed by both of these communities.

The conflict had a lot of effects on the affected communities as lots of lives were lost in the process. Due to the publicity the fiasco had generated, the Cross river state government had to intervene and an arbitration committee was setup to look into the conflict and ascertain means of settling the dispute between the communities amicably.

They resolved that the communities abandoned the old mode of leasing their lands and accept the reality that in modern times such archaic methods would not be good enough.

They were advised to rather clearly demarcate the territories as the law would be able to recognize that these territories belong to Ugep while these area belongs to Indimi.

While the demarcation may reduce the supposed brotherhood existing between the clans but it would go a long way in curbing these conflicts from springing up often.

They also advised the Cross river state government to take swift steps in acquiring the land causing the discord between the two clans and use it for economical purposes that it believes would be largely beneficial to the growth of the communities.

Conflict in respect of lands is one of the major reasons why violence erupts in some local governments in Cross river state.

Another notable violent incident was in Abi local government. This clash was between the people of Ediba and Usumutong towns.

On the 5th of Apri, the two communities clashed over a piece of farmland that led to the loss of a lot of lives. It is believed that the disputed piece of land has been a subject of litigation between the two communities for a long period of time.

Although there was a court verdict in the past to the effect that the residents involved between the two communities be pacified but sadly it was not adhered to by the residents.

Even after the judgment, chiefs of the two communities gathered to settle the disputes but it was all to no avail. The Ediba youths had began the attacks on the members of tje Usumutong clan and they had no choice than to return the attacks.

However, its reported that Usumutong had recorded more casualties than the Ediba clan. As the residents of the communities already had their minds bent on violence as a means of achieving their goal.

Apart from the casualties that were recorded as a result of this communal clash, a lot of residents in these communities were displaced completely.

It was a rather sad occurrence in the Local government. The Cross river state government had no choice than to intervene in the crisis before it became a full-blown war by declaring that the disputed land became a buffer zone and deployed soldiers to the communities.

Another Senator also taking advantage of the period was for Easter celebration, he donated a large number of food items to the communities.

The chairman of Abi local government ensured that the food stuffs were distributed evenly between the two communities.

Its a huge dent in a society’s name if such a society is noted for violence and blood shed because such a society would be identified as one without adequate security and inability to protect its residents.

These incidents have been a huge dent to the security agencies within these affected areas. I am of the opinion however that the Police force in such areas be given adequate training so as to be able to combat these cases before they get out of hand.

A community living in perpetual fear of what they don’t know would happen next would never completely be a happy community.

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Precious Austin

Austin Precious is a Legal Practitioner and a Content Developer at InfoGuideNigeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistant on this topic, kindly contact us.

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