At least five persons have been reportedly shot dead in a renewed clash between the people of Emede and Igbide clans in Isoko South council area of Delta state.
Though the cause of the renewed hostilities remains uncertain, community sources revealed that the cultivation of a disputed land known as Oruzu, by both parties, triggered Tuesday and Wednesday’s attacks.
Photos of the dead, many persons quitting their homes and houses destroyed in Emede, were seen by The Nation, Thursday.
Recounting the ordeal, an Emede source claimed that the armed persons from Igbide were dressed in military camouflage, as well as black and red outfits.
“On Tuesday afternoon, Igbide people attacked Emede with sophisticated weapons like AK47. We never planned for the war. The next day (Wednesday), they attacked. They shot till dawn even withdrew and came back again. Most of them put on military uniforms and some wore red and black when they came to attack. They burnt so many houses in the outskirts of Emede.
“The problem has been existing from the time of our forefathers. You know their occupation is fishing, so Emede gave them a small place to stay. The that we gave land are now dragging it and destroying most of our crops in the bush. In fact, they want to claim Emede. They say they don’t have enough land, but God will never allow it.
“They have killed up to five people. Since yesterday, if not for the military men in the environment, there would have been another fight. I know the war has not ended because, by the time the military men depart, they will attack again. People living in those areas have deserted their homes.
Efforts to speak with the president-general of Igbide, Dr. Patrick Oboghor, were unsuccessful as his phone line was switched off.
However, an indigene of Igbide who spoke in confidence explained that the land in dispute was a court matter between Uruwhre and Ezede Quarters of Igbide and Uzere (another Isoko clan) respectively, which the former got judgement in 1952.
“Recently, they (Igbide) went to the Oruzu farmland and discovered that Emede people were cultivating the land. Around two weeks ago, Igbide people decided to cultivate the whole place.
“But while they were doing this, Emede people blocked the road and started harassing our people passing by. Enwhe (another boundary community) people blocked the other side but later withdrew. They (Emede) blocked the Oteri axis and the Olomoro side too. For now, we have people with injuries, save for son persons that were held on the highway that has not been seen”.
President general of Emede clan, Mr. Okah Avae, while reacting to reports that the cultivation of Oruzu land caused the crisis, said “those are formulations,” adding that the leadership of both communities had been called for a security meeting Tuesday morning.
“The Oruzu is, let me use the word, a disputed land, but it is an Emede land which we allowed them to plant in some time ago. They went there and destroyed all the crops that Emede people planted, claiming that the land belongs to them.
“That was the beginning of what happened about two weeks ago. We reported the case to security agencies and even the chairman of the local government.
“That was why they called us together and we agreed that land is not something to fight about. That Tuesday morning, we formed a committee that are supposed to be meeting over the issue.
“Suddenly, they attacked Emede in the afternoon of that same day. They have killed some people and burnt son houses. We don’t even know how many. They were killed by gunshots, sophisticated weapons,” the PG said.
Recall that the people of Emede and Igbide started a bloody communal war which led to the death of over 100 persons and the destruction of properties from 1985 to 1988.
The Delta State Police Command could not be reached for comments as of the time of filing this report.
While the Police Commissioner, Hafiz Inuwa, did not take repeated calls to his phone line, the spokesperson of the Command, DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya’s phone was switched off. The Nation