By INYALI PETER, Calabar
A chieftaincy tussle in New Netim, Odukpani Qua towns, in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State left one person dead, with several houses burnt on Monday.
An eye witness narrated to National Daily that the crisis broke out when a chief, Ntufam Raphael Okpa Ita, believed to be the father of Christian Ita, Publicity Secretary/Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ben Ayade emerged as the clan head of the community against the wishes of a faction of the elder council.
The source said that the incident, which occurred at about 2.00am on Monday left two others with serious gunshot injuries.
The source who is a native of the community further explained that the clash followed an alleged invasion of New Netim town by suspected thugs hired from Odukpani Qua town.
“The root of the problem is not land dispute as reported by some newspapers but a chieftaincy tussle between two factions. The appointment of Ntufam Raphael Okpa Ita, who is Ayade’s media aide’s father as the clan head of New Netim Village in Odukpani is the root of all the problem.
“There is faction which believe he is not qualified to be the clan head and was not the choice of the people but imposed through government influence.
“The crisis has been on for some time now but the recent one happened on Monday at about 2am; suspected thugs hired from Odukpani Qua Town who are also not in good terms with the community invaded New Netim. They killed one and burnt several houses and cars. Two people were shot but are currently receiving treatment in the hospital”.
Reacting, the state Commissioner of Police, Ozi-Obeh Jimoh, denied that somebody was killed in crisis.
According to him, “The place is calm now but nobody was killed as I read in some newspapers”.
Also speaking, the State’s Security Adviser, Mr. Jude Ngaji, said “It started at about 1.00m to 1.30am and immediately we got the call, we deployed security men there, but before the men got there, the havoc had already been committed.
“The Army and Operation Scolombo responded immediately. The team was led by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, operations, himself.
“For now, the area is calm as security agents have been deployed to the area. We are asking everybody to go about their normal duties, as the police and army have taken over the place in terms of security.”