3 Feared Dead In Renewed Hostilities Between Ofunokpan-Mbembe, Ntansele Communities In Ikom LGA

Mar 13, 2024 - 11:32
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3 Feared Dead In Renewed Hostilities Between Ofunokpan-Mbembe, Ntansele Communities In Ikom LGA

... Youths Demand Implementation of Gov't White Paper On Boundary Dispute

By Judex OKORO

The over three decades of communal conflict between the Ofunokpan-Mbembe and Ntansele communities in Ikom have allegedly claimed three lives.

This is one of the series of clashes that have taken place between the two brotherly communities, leading to destruction of lives and property. 

Both Ntansele and Mbembe communities, located in Central Senatorial district of Cross River State have been engaged in a fratricide war for over 30 years, leading to loss of lives and destruction of farm lands and government facilities.

THE BEAGLE NEWS gathered that the Mbembes and Ntansele people have lived together for ages until 1993 when the Ntansele launched an attack and killed scores and drove the Mbembes out of their ancestral land.

It was learnt that the Ntas were not happy over the ugly development, fuming how visitors that they accommodated could just chase them out of their homes.

Since then, both communities have not known peace as there have been incessant attacks and counter attacks on each other.

A village source that spoke off record, said the state government had intervened severally and tired to resolve the land dispute to no avail.

However, despite government interventions and series of appeals for calm, hostilities broke out again at the weekend when angry youths of Ofunokpan- Mbembe attacked the Ntansele people in their farm and allegedly killed three persons at Nnaorokpa village in Nta.

The Ofonokpan youths claimed that they went to farm on their land and the Ntas confronted them and they retaliated, leading to full scale war in the bush.

The three persons said to have been killed include one Rejoice Nton Anoka, 10, and a student, Mariam Akanya Mfono, 20 and another person identified as a Tiv, who was on a visit.

One of the youths, who simply gave his name as Simon Agbor, said the Ntansele people have been provoking them in several ways including frustrating all peace moves by government. 

Agbor admitted that they attacked the Ntansele community out of anger and frustration over what he described as dehumanising treatment meted out on Ofonokpan-Mbembe community in the last 30 years.

Agbor said: "The youths are frustrated and we are aggrieved. We want to claim our land because we have suffered for over thirty years. We are not happy. We have been deceived by government that we would soon be settled. We need the implementation of the white paper or else we would go and die there because it is our father's land. 

"Look at this coming planting season, we have no land to farm in Obubra where we are temporarily settling. We buy land at between N15, 000 and N50, 000 per season to plant and survive. For how long shall we continue to leave in a strange community and be buying land to build and farm?"

Decrying the alleged attack, the Vice-President, Congress of Ofonokpan-Mbembe, said: "We have been begging for peaceful settlement of this land dispute with our Ntansele brothers so that we can return to our ancestral home. But it seems to be falling on deaf ears because the Nta people are in government and are blocking us each time we make move to see the Governor. 

"It might interest you to know that at the last National Population Census (NPC) enumeration exercise, the Ofonokpan villages we were neither captured in Obubra nor at Ikom local government areas. 

"So, how do you want the people to be happy about such omission? But they deceived us into believing that they have returned us to Ntansele.

"We equally wish to point out that some sections of Obubura community that share boundary with us are encroaching into our farm land to plant cocoa. So, each time it is planting season, the youths would revolt and that must have led to the recent skirmishes. 

"We have been trying to see the government, to no avail. This is because we do not have anybody in government either from Obubra or Ikom at all levels. We want government to create an in atmosphere for peaceful settlement."

Spokesperson of the Cross River State Police Command, Irene Ugbo, could not be reached, but a source close to the Police Command said they have dispatched a crack team of detectives to the warring communities.