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How soldiers on peacekeeping mission ‘wreaked havoc’ on Cross River community

12:23 Jun 27 2022 Crossriver State

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The soldiers had been deployed to the community to ensure peace, following a clash with Oyadama, a neighbouring community.

Residents told TheCable that the soldiers broke into homes and shops, and started shooting sporadically, “maiming and beating women”.

The military operation was said to have started on Saturday evening and continued up till Sunday.

TheCable understands that there has been an ongoing clash between Nko and Oyadama communities which has claimed the lives of many locals, including the son of a community leader.

“After several attempts at making peace, the Oyadama people invaded our farms,” one of the residents said.

“The first time they abducted the monarchs’ son, the soldier commanding the checkpoint between Nko/Nyima axis was aware and made several attempts to ensure peace, but to no avail. In spite of many attempts at peace, they insisted on war.

"As the war started, the army came in. We thought they just came in for peace, but to our greatest surprise, yesterday evening, they came and started shooting randomly.

“Even when our women came out to protest, they were seriously beaten. Some injured. So, they continued yesterday night and this morning, they invaded the community, breaking houses, burning shops, picking women and so on.”

'KING’S PALACE DESTROYED’

Another source explained that the soldiers moved from house to house in search of men in the community, and where there were none, the women were beaten up.

“We didn’t sleep, these people got in here around 12. They started destroying houses, they’ve destroyed the king’s palace, they broke the entrance door to the king’s house,” the source said.

“They entered my aunty’s house and broke everything. Even old women were not spared in the beating.”

POLICE: A MAJOR WAS SHOT

Although what led to the soldiers’ “invasion” is not clear, Irene Ugbo, the police spokesperson in the state, told TheCable that a major was shot.

“The army didn’t have any bad intentions but the circumstances made them do what they did. A major was shot in Nko and I think that triggered the whole thing,” she said.

Ugbo said the communities have been at loggerheads over land matters, and the police have been trying to resolve the conflict over the years.

“The government is responsible, trying to bring the two communities together, reassure them and if they can’t, they make sure the community vacates such land that’s in a dispute. But this escalated whereby we called for the army’s support but it has not been in a good light because some of the complaints is that the army is being brutal,” she further explained.

According to the police spokesperson, the soldiers will be withdrawn from the area while they try to ensure calmness returns.

As at Sunday evening, Nko community was deserted as many residents had fled into hiding.

Onyema Nwachukwu, the army spokesperson, was not immediately available to comment on the development.
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