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Rep, NYCN condemn invasion, killing of Cross River community leaders, rape by men in military uniform

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By Akpan David, Calabar 

The invasion and killing of, at least, five elderly persons and youths in Mbiabong Ukwa community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State has been condemned by Member House of Representatives representing Calabar Municipality/Odukpani Federal Constituency, Bassey Akiba and the leadership of National Council of Nigerian Youths.

Armed men dressed in military uniform are reported to have invaded the community where they allegedly raped women and destroyed houses worth millions of naira.

According to eye witnesses, the armed invaders who came from distant Isu community in Ihechiowa Local Government Area of Abia State also kidnapped a number of young men who resisted them.

But the state Commissioner of Police, Gyogon Grimah said they were yet to confirm the incident, blaming the community leaders for not alerting their DPO and other security agencies beforehand. 

In a statement issued by Ukwa Ibom-Efik Eburutu, and signed by one Chief Okon Odiong Ekpenyong Esu on Sunday, they said the invasion happened on Saturday, adding that it was not the first time.

He disclosed that the attackers often come to mine the limestone in their community and to grab their land.

Part of the statement reads, “Several of our people have been killed.  So many are from Mbiabong. Mostly, the aged and children who could not run have been killed, while others have been kidnapped.

“The continuous aggression, wanton destruction of properties and killing of Mbiabong Ukwa people by the Isu Community in Abia State with the help of men on Military Uniform over the years, is one that has gone on without checks and help also seems not to be coming from anywhere to the helpless Mbiabong Ukwa people.

“They are strongly supported by the wealthy Isu leaders and other persons from Abia State in order to take over the rich limestone embedded in Mbiabong land by God.

“We don’t have known common boundary with Isu Community like the invaders, Isu would want people to believe. The constant killing and invasion of Mbiabong Ukwa community to destroy properties is disguised in communal land conflict.  It is a deliberate territorial land grabbing orchestrated by certain rich and wealthy people in Abia State and targeted at the limestone and other mineral resources in Mbiabong Ukwa land.

“The Saturday 11th of May, 2024 destruction of Mbiabong Ukwa by Isu Community saw the killing of Mr. Ediong Ediong Essien and his wife, Madam Ekpitu Ediong Essien, another young boy named Asuquo Ndem and many others were kidnapped. This  was made very possible because we have no  motorble roads that people can use faster mobility to run,” he said.

According to the statement, “The masterminds of the invasion of our community are interested in the rich mineral resources of Ukwa Eburutu land.  The attack and killings have become unbearable.

“We call for help from both the Federal and Cross River State governments to avoid our total elimination by our neighbouring Igbo communities.”

National Youth Council of Nigeria,  NYCN, in the LGA, Williams Bassey in a statement, condemned the attacked, calling for swift government intervention. 

Akiba who is deputy chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services expressed deep sadness over the attacks.

Akiba said that the attack was not only heinous but also an assault on shared values of peace, unity, and mutual respect.

“We strongly condemn these acts of violence. The destruction of lives and property is inhumane and such acts have no place in our society,” he noted.

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