There is currently palpable tension in Cross River State as two communities; Usumutong and Ebom in Abi Local Government Area of the state are poised for communal clash over alleged abduction of their sons.
Abi is the home town of former governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke.
An eyewitness, who gave his name as Thomas Peter, narrated to Vogue Naija how the problem started.
According to him, “It was not true that an Ebom man was killed by the Usumutong people. What actually happened was that, two Ebıjakara boys, one of whose father was killed by means of putting a sharp object through his anus during the Ebom/Ebıjakara crises 12 years ago went on a revenge mission to the farmland of Ebom.
“They, however, met with stiff resistance from one Ebom man and the two women he was carrying on his motorcycle.
When Vogue Naija contacted the Village Head of Usumutong, His Royal Majesty (HRM), Oval Solomon Osim Edward on phone, he said he had contacted the Village Head of Ebom, Chief Henry Bassey on the issue.
He said that though, the motorcycle he rode was damaged, but the Ebom man sustained superficial injury.
His Royal Majesty explained, “All efforts to get the Village Head of Ebom produce the Ebom man to ascertain the level of injury, proved abortive”.
However, the Village Head of Usumutong, who incidentally is the Paramount Ruler of Abı, said that the Ebom warriors have already laid ambush around the bushes of Usumutong and kidnapped two boys from Usumutong, though, one of them managed to escape.
“When this information got to me, I immediately called the Village Head of Ebom, who confirmed the kidnap but promised that nothing will happen to the boy if only the culprits that assaulted his subject would be produced.
“Consequently, the two Ebıjakara boys who made confessional statements were apprehended by the efforts of the Usumutong people and handed over to officers of the Nigeria Police, Ugep Area Command, who also visited Ebom to get the Usumutong boy released but surprisingly, the Village Head of Ebom denied knowledge of the Usumutong boy.
“He also falsely claimed that he has not seen his town’s man and his bike, contrary to his initial admissions, which caused me to demand for the production of the alleged injured man for treatment and the bike for repairs at my expense,” he stated.
Interestingly, when our correspondent contacted the Village Head of Ebom, Chief Henry Bassey on phone, he said “Our man has not been seen, it is false that we kidnapped anybody in Usumutong and the man who was abducted from our community by Usumutong people has not been seen up till now.
“Ebom people did not kidnap anybody; the way forward was that we are going to Area Command of the Nigeria Police for interview on Monday by 10 am,” he stated.
Meanwhile, tension in the two communities continues to rise as some young men were said to be allegedly pilling arms and getting set for a war.
“The people of Ebom are still invading my community looking for people to kidnap but I kept on appealing to my people to remain calm,” HRM of Usumutong told our correspondent.
The Commissioner of Police Mohammed Inuwa Hafiz in reply to a text message sent to him said, “I am in Abuja for official assignments, kindly verify from DCP Operations” and efforts to get to him proved abortive.