About 3,000 indigenes of Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi state who are residents of Ekajiok community in Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River state have been displaced from the community by Ekajiok indigenes over alleged missing persons.
The Izzi indigenes were forced out by the people of Ekajiok community to return to their state of origin over alleged missing persons from their area who did business transaction in Ebonyi State.
The displaced persons, comprising men, women, children, the aged, pregnant and lactating mothers, on Monday 6th April, 2019 besieged the Cabinet Office, Government House, Abakaliki to seek succour from the state government.
Spokesperson of the people and the Chairman, Izzi Traders Association in Ogoja, Simon Agena, who hails from Ezza Inyimagu in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, narrated that the crisis, which erupted on Friday, led to massive looting and destruction of their shops and other means of livelihood.
Agena added that it took the intervention of the Police and Ohaneze Ndigbo to rescue them safely and return them back home, adding that they were at the Cabinet Office to intimate Governor David Umahi of the development and seek his assistance.
He said, “I was in front of my shops on Friday when somebody came to me and told me what was happening. He asked me to close my shops first. Within five minutes, youths from Ekajiok in their numbers armed with various weapons came and broke my shops and looted everything in the shops. They went round the community and did same thing to all Ebonyi indigenes residing in the community.”
“We have lost all our livelihood and earnings. The shirt I am wearing is the only thing that was saved in the attack.”
“We are crying to our Governor to come to our aid because we have nothing to feed our children and entire families; we are dying of hunger. We have no problem with the Ekajiok people to warrant attack on us and destruction of our properties.”
“When I contacted the traditional ruler of that community on phone when the incident occurred to know why the thing was happening to us, he told me that two indigenes of their community who went to mill their rice in Ebonyi State got missing.”
Speaking to newsmen in Abakaliki, the Head of Department, Relief and Rehabilitation of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Prince Chibueze Iteshi, confirmed the development.
He noted that the State Government, through the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, has directed that the names of those affected be compiled for further actions.
Iteshi said, “We got a report that Ebonyi indigenes living in Ekajiok in Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River State were attacked by the indigenes of Ekajiok.
“In the report, the Ebonyi people in Ekajiok told us that two indigenes of Ekajiok came to Rice Mill in Ebonyi State to mill their rice and they did not return.”
“On getting the information, the people of Ekajiok started attacking all Ebonyi indigenes living in that place irrespective of age. It was the aid of police from Ogoja Area Command and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo there that fought and ensured that they were safeguarded and brought back to Ebonyi State here.”
“Currently, we are compiling the number of those displaced, but we have men, women, lactating mothers, pregnant women, small children, infants in their midst.”
“They came to this state today and immediately they came in, the SSG directed that SEMA should take action immediately.”
Those mainly affected were Ebonyi indigenes from Izzi Local Government and other parts of Abakaliki area.
Recall, that the people of Igbeagu community, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi state and their neighbouring Ukele Yala Local Government Area of Cross River state have been at war over boundary matters with many killed and properties worth billions of naira destroyed.