Communal dispute grounds Obubra community in Cross River State
By Our Correspondent
Communal clashes are a recurring feature across the continent of Africa, bringing with them tales of destruction, death and conflicts.
In the current instance, the Local Government area of Obubra is located in Cross River State with a total land mass of 431 square miles and dwellers of about 172, 543 as stated by 2006 population census. Communities within its boundaries are Ababene, Ofat, Ofodua, Ovonum, Apiapum, Iyamoyong, Ochon, Obubra Urban, Ofumbongha/Yala, Osopong I and Osopong II. These communities are blessed with fertile land which makes farming their major occupation.
Presently, Obubra community is experiencing a severe violent conflict which has led to killing and maimimg of its people and several factors could be attributed to it. However, findings have revealed that the immediate cause stems from the accusation of Ababane community by Iyamoyong people of killing their indigene. Consequently, this led to the planning of an organized reprisal attack.
Nevertheless, there is an underlining land dispute which the village of Ababene believes is the real cause of the aggression. In scenarios involving boundary/land dispute, it is tempting to ask; Is the land under dispute the real cause of this mayhem or another is the land a trophy for an underlining unannounced contest?
Based on the Principle of Proportionality, in conflicts, the level of damage done seems to portray that there is more to the conflict than the publicized subject matter. Do we question the rationality of the parties involved?
An eye witness revealed that the people of Iyamoyong reported members of their community were ruthlessly murdered and dumped in the bush. The accused denied the allegation as they claimed none of them went to the farm that day. Unknown to the accused (Ababene), Iyamoyong community has started planning attacks. At about 4:00pm on the 5th of March, the people of Ababene were out for the burial of a Chief while the attack started. All the plantations of the people of Ababene were burnt. The figures are still unclear, but numerous houses have been burnt down and as at the 10th of March, over 15 adults and quite a number of children have been recorded dead.
It was reported (verbally from a victim and an indigene of Ababene) that at the time of the day when the attack broke out in Ababene , it was mostly children that were around the residential area thereby exposing them to Iyamoyong’s combatant.
The Nigerian Police Force appears to be left out and other verbal reports from the victims accuse the Nigerian Military of bias in their involvement in the conflict. They have been accused of (as reported) telling the Ababene people to not fight back but permitting the people of Iyamoyong to continue attacks. They have also been accused of “protecting” a location that has already been attacked and burned and not providing security and protection for them.
As at the time of filing this report, the conflict is still ON. Lives of Adults and Children are being threatened while properties are being destroyed without mercy.
Unfortunately, the public are not aware of this conflict and no cogent intervention from the Local/State or federal Government. (Voicing out for one of the victims), do we have to go this far destroying lives and properties over land disputes? After all, it will end up in talks.
This however is just one of the various intra/inter-ethnic conflicts bewildering the Nigerian and African society. The people of Obubra are calling out for help. The scope of the conflict can expand if actions are not taken in due time. The clock is ticking …
Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade