Two Akwa Ibom oil-producing communities gear up for war

Akwa Ibom State

By Isaac Job

Residents of Eket and Esit Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Akwa Ibom State have raised the alarm over the abduction of 22 persons in the community amid land disputes with their Ibeno neighbours.

It was gathered that the development may result in communal war between the two oil rich communities.

Speaking during an interaction with journalists in the area at the weekend, the apex socio- cultural organization of Eket people, the Eket Peoples Union (EPU), alleged that mercenaries from Ibeno kidnapped 22 of their kinsmen in the ongoing crisis over the ownership of Akoiyak territory, otherwise known as Stubbs Creek Forest.

The EPU frowned at the continued assault and attacks on Ekid people by Ibeno, vowing to retaliate.

President-General of EPU, Dr Samuel Udonsak, who spoke during an enlarged meeting of the union, said that the incessant attacks by Ibeno on Ekid people amounted to an invitation to war.

He said: “The meeting became very important after Ibeno people in quick succession invaded Ekid land at Stubbs Creek, maltreated Ekid citizens, tortured them and eventually abducted them. This situation is unacceptable, disturbing and invitation to retaliation.

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“I recall that on August 2nd, 2023, about 15 Ekid indigenes were held captive and on August 14, 2023, the same issue repeated itself with seven Ekid people being seized again after some Ibeno people encroached on the land, crossed boundary to demand for royalty in Akoiyak community which perpetually belongs to Ekid people.

” It could also be recalled that the Esit Urua people in their bravery had to ward off the attack from rampaging Ibeno mercenaries about two months ago.

“It happened sometime ago that thugs from Ibeno came to Akoiyak and made unnecessary demands, and then subjected Ekid people to torture.

“We approached that in a peaceful way hoping that the attacks will end, but we received a report of another attack on Monday of our people being attacked again.

“It is distressful to us as we continue to receive reports of attacks by Ibeno people and crossing boundary to demand for royalty from our people residing in Akoiyak, our ancestral home”.

“I want it be known that they have declared war on us and we will respond proportionately and even on a greater dimension to their provocations after processing the terms of our response.”

But a spokesperson for Ibeno, Mr. Diamond Akpanika, in his response, denied the allegations.

He said Ibeno are peace-loving and law-abiding people who have decided to ensure that the prevailing peace in the state is maintained.

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