Seven individuals have lost their lives, and numerous others have been injured in the midst of a fierce dispute over boundaries and farmland. This conflict has arisen between the Yache community in Yala Local Council of Cross River State and the Tiv community in Benue State.
According to reliable sources, approximately ten people, including women, sustained severe injuries from deep machete cuts, while fifteen houses were set ablaze on both sides of the dispute. The genesis of this devastating clash can be traced back to a Sunday morning when a group of youths from Yache reportedly approached the Tiv settlers in their community. This encounter occurred while most residents were attending church services, as the youths sought royalties for allowing the Tiv people to reside on their land. However, tensions escalated rapidly as the Tiv community resisted these demands, ultimately culminating in a violent altercation between the two ethnic groups.
In a telephone conversation with The Guardian, Augustine Odey Adula, a community leader in Yache, expressed his dismay over the situation. He stated, “A few of our youths went to inquire from the Tiv settlers why they have refused to pay royalties as usual for settling on our lands. But the Tiv people allegedly detained one of our youths, beat him to stupor, and he died on the spot. Of course, that triggered a reprisal. They attacked and killed seven of our people and burnt 15 houses. Before now, the Tiv people have been paying royalties to their host community, but I don’t know what went wrong that they have to resort to killing someone.”
Confirming the incident, Sir Leonard Anyogo, a prominent lawyer and Secretary of Yala, Cross River North Elders Forum, lamented the unfortunate turn of events. He disclosed that deputy governors from both states had previously met with the affected communities, appealing for peace while addressing the issue. Anyogo pointed out the absence of a clear-cut boundary demarcation and revealed that the Tiv people had settled on land traditionally belonging to the Yache community. He further emphasized that the disputed land once marked the boundary between the former Southern and Northern Protectorates.
The involvement of state authorities and security agencies has become imperative in light of this escalating conflict. The Cross River State government, along with law enforcement, has taken steps to address the matter. However, as of now, the Cross River State Police Command, represented by spokesperson Irene Ugbo, has not received an official report regarding the incident from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO). They have assured the public that more information will be provided as the situation develops.