Reports reaching ADELOVE say 18 houses have been burnt and several persons wounded in a renewed clash between the Kutia and Ukpe communities in Obud Local Government Area of Cross River State.
It will be recalled that for five years now, the Ukpe/Okworotong and Kutia communities have been at war over ownership of a piece of land housing residential buildings and a church belonging to Kutia people.
Trouble started in 2011 when Ukpe/Okworotong people claimed that the Kutias encroached on their land and demanded they vacate within a specific period of time.
This development led to series of clashes between the communities as well as deaths and destruction of property, including a public school.
However, hostilities resumed three days ago, when some Kutia people went to pluck bush mango (Ogbono) in the same disputed land and Ukpe people moved in to chase them away, claiming that the trees were on their land.
According to an eyewitness, Mr. Emmanuel Atiang, the Kutia people refused to leave the place, arguing that, for years, they have been harvesting the bush mango without any problem and wondered why they should be harassed now.
Atiang said when the Kutia people insisted on plucking the bush mango, Ukpe/Okworotong community went back home to mobilise and came back armed with machetes and some dangerous weapons to confront their Kutia neighbours.
The Ukpe, Atiang said, also moved into Kutia community attacked them and burnt houses as well as set farms ablaze.
“It started three days ago when Kutia people went to pluck bush mango, ‘ogbono,’ and Ukpe people claimed that the trees are on their land. As I talk with you, over 18 houses belonging to Kutia people have been burnt and several persons sustained various degrees of injury as a result of machete cuts inflicted on them by Ukpe people.
“Some of them are in hospitals receiving treatment.
“With what I saw, cannot understand how plucking of bush mango coujld lead to this type of destruction even though the communities have been at war over the piece of land,” he said.
Condemning the clash, Chief of Staff to Governor Ben Ayade, Mr. Martin Orim, said the clash between the Ukpe and Kutia communities was driven more by hatred than common sense and wondered why two brotherly communities with common ties would resort to settling differences by attacking each other in an era when disagreements could be settled amicably.
Orim, from Obudu, maintained that every conflict takes several developmental steps backwards, adding that it was painful that the clash happened when governor Ayade was working to re-position the state.
Reporters gathered that Orim has mobilised some prominent citizens from Obudu to intervene and see how the dispute could be resolved.