NO fewer than three persons are feared dead following a clash between Hausa\Fulani scavengers and some local residents of Itiam Etoi in Uyo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
It was gathered that trouble started on Tuesday night, when an Hausa scrap dealer ferrying a power generator on wheelbarrow, was accosted around the Udo Udoma area of Itiam Etoi, by some locals.
A resident of Itiam Etoi, Mr. Okon Effiong, told newsmen that if the attack had started when most residents had not gone to bed, the situation could have been worse. He added that the Hausa\Fulani community mobilised and launched a reprisal attack, venting anger on anybody they run into on their way to the scene of the meeting between the scrap dealer and locals.
Effiong said: “When the ‘area boys’ stopped the Hausa man, they asked him for settlement. He refused to pay and it led to a fight and a reprisal attack from the Hausa\Fulani settlers in the area.
“They arrived in large numbers with machetes and clubs and started cutting anyone they found on the road. Some of them carried iron rods with which they destroyed properties and chased shop owners away.”
A resident, who narrowly escaped being killed by the Hausa men, simply identified as Ubong, said they met him on his way from work and descended on him. He said: “They wanted to kill me, but God saved my life as some youths, who were drinking nearby, came to my rescue. I thank God that I am still alive.”
Reacting, the leader of the Hausa\Fulani community in Uyo, Alhaji Hassan Sadauki, sued for peace, saying the incident was a fallout of minor misunderstanding between his men and the suspected ‘area boys’.
He said one of the victims from his side was critically ill from the injury he sustained from the fracas, adding that he would need about half a million naira for his medical expenses.
Sadauki added that efforts were on to relocate his people from the crisis area for fear of another backlash.
Worried by the frightening development, which has raised tempers in the state, Village Head of Itiam Etoi, Eteidung Effiong Asikpo; the Chairman of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ndueso Ekwere, and the Chairman of Uyo Local Government Area, Mfon Ben, in their separate reactions sued for peace.
Confirming the incident, Police Public Relations Officer, Cordelia Nwawe, appealed for calm, assuring that peace has already been restored to the affected community, adding that some victims of the fight have been discharged from the hospitals.
Nwawe, who admitted casualties on both sides, said police was not in a better position to confirm the casualty figures. She said: “We are not the one to confirm the dead. It is the job of the state government or qualified medical professionals. But as far as I know, nobody died from the clash.”