The Akwa Ibom State Police has called on politicians to intervene in the communal land crisis involving Enwang and Uko Nteghe communities in Mbo Local Government Area of the state.
Unconfirmed reports say about five persons have so far been killed, while 17 others are in critical condition in the dispute involving boundary farmland in Uko Akai.
It was gathered that the Clan Head, Ovong Bassey Atabia II, is among those who have sustained injuries while one of his sons was among the dead.
Traditional rulers and elders of Enwang community have reportedly met to resolve the matter.
Speaking on Thursday in Uyo, Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Macdon, said policemen were on ground to ensure normalcy returns to the communities, and urged the political class and other stakeholders to also intervene in the matter for peace to reign.
“We are aware of the crisis in Okobo and Mbo. The Command has taken steps; our men are on the ground ensuring that normalcy returns.
“We call on the political class and other critical stakeholders to intervene too.
“However, all parties must as a matter of urgency, for the good of the inhabitants and the state at large, sheathe their swords and give peace a chance to prevail.
“The Commissioner of Police, Amiengheme Andrew, has deployed more men and we will continue to dominate the affected space until normalcy is fully restored,” he stated.
According to Moses Tom, a source from a neighbouring village, the land dispute has been a long standing one, which normally erupts during the planting season.
He explained that the land in dispute, Uko Akai, is a farmland cultivated by indigenes of the community now residing in both Enwang and Uko Nteghe communities, but has now been extended to other lands.
He stated that the land, which is usually allowed to fallow for five years, is due for cultivation this year, adding that some youths instigated the crisis.
“Uko Akai is the farmland under dispute and no houses are there. But now the crisis has spread to other boundary lands not owned by Uko Akai. In fact, that particular land is mostly owned by my community, Uyi Akai.
“This year, the land will be cultivated because it is allowed to fallow and be planted after every five years, but this time it has spilled into seven years because of the crisis.
“The process of planting the land portion owned by Enwang is the cause of the current crisis. I don’t know the actual origin of this current dispute.
“Uko Nteghe and Ewang communities have been living together and are part of Uda. The crisis is instigated by the youths. Ewang has been cultivating the bigger part of the land over the years. Apart from the one they struggled with Uko Akai, they are using this opportunity to claim the land.
“I learnt two persons have so far died but it has not been confirmed,” he said.