No fewer than seven persons, mostly youths, were killed on Sunday over continued violent clashes over boundary and farmlands between the Tiv people of Benue State and indigenous people of the Yache community in Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State.
At least 15 houses were also set ablaze in the ensuing faceoff between the youths from both sides.
Sources said 10 persons, including women, from both sides were seriously injured, many with machete cuts on their necks, heads and legs.
Many are reported to have fled, and others live in fear of reprisals despite the presence of security.
There have been violent clashes over the same boundary issue for years which usually resulted in death on both sides.
Explaining the reason for yesterday’s killing, a community leader in Yache, Augustine Odey Adula, said they were in a church service when pandemonium ensued.
“A few of our youths went to enquire from the Tiv settlers why they have refused to pay royalties as usual for settling on our lands. The TIv people seized one of our youths, beat him to stupor, and he died instantly.
“Of course, that triggered a reprisal. But they were prepared. They attacked and killed seven of our people and burnt 15 houses,” Adula alleged.
He said the Tiv people had been paying royalties on the land but decided to stop.
Secretary of Yala and Cross River North Elders Forum, Barrister Leonard Anyogo, himself a Yache, also confirmed the killing in an interview.
He disclosed that the two deputy governors from both states had earlier met in the same community, where they appealed for peace while they handled the issue.
Anyogo explained that there has not been a clear-cut boundary demarcation, adding that the Tiv had settled on the land.
He said the land in dispute was actually where the boundary of the then Southern and Northern Protectorates was, which was a Yache land.
He also confirmed that the state government and security agencies have waded into the matter.
State police command PRO Irene Ugbo said she had not received an official report, adding that the command would hold a security meeting shortly.