Many residents of Aladja, in Udu Local Government Area, and Ogbe-Ijoh, in Warri Southwest Local Government Area, both in Delta State, were feared dead yesterday in a renewed clash.
Several others were injured and property worth million of Naira were destroyed.
There has been an age-long communal rivalry between residents of Aladja and their Ogbe-Ijoh counterparts.
It was gathered that youths from Ogbe-Ijoh invaded the community’s Divisional Police Station, carting away arms and ammunition.
Aladja, an Urhobo community, and Ogbe-Ijoh, an Ijaw community, have been engaged in protracted civil strife over land ownership and access to road.
Although security agents comprising the Army and the police have taken over the communities to stem hostilities, it was gathered that residents of both communities abandoned their homes because of the fears that the confrontation might worsen.
At the time of filing this report last night, sources said several persons had been injured while two homes – one each in Aladja and Ogbe-Ijoh – had been razed.
A car inside the Ogbe-Ijoh property was damaged.
It was also gathered that yesterday’s clash started in the morning when some Aladja youths blocked the only access road from their town to Ogbe-Ijoh, leading to a free-for-all.
Giving the account of the incident, the Coordinator of the Ogbe-Ijoh Peace Movement, Friday Deinghan, said although the crisis started early, it was curtailed through the swift intervention of the Army.
Deinghan said: “One man, identified as Freedom from Ogbe-Ijoh, is lying critically injured as a result of the clash. But for the quick intervention of the Army, there would have been a total breakdown of law and order in the area.
“The area under contention has been declared a buffer zone, but some persons carried blocks and sand to erect structures there. The evidence is there. This morning (yesterday), Aladja residents started restricting people from passing to Ogbe-Ijoh; they beat up our people. Before we knew it, they had started advancing to Ogbe-Ijoh, and there were some little skirmishes.”
But a community leader in Aladja, who spoke in confidence, said: “Ogbe-Ijoh drew first blood. Their youths held and molested Ajadja women who wenre farming in the bush. In reprisal, our youths restricted their passage through Aladja to their community.
“There has been confusion since then. We can’t give a clear report of casualties now.”
Udu Local Government Area Chairman Solomon Kpoma said he was told that even when security forces demarcated both communities, some Ogbe-Ijoh residents still used the waterway to attack Aladja.
Kpoma said: “The police and the Army formed a barricade to cordon off Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja and prevent the two sides from attacking each other. But somehow Ogbe-Ijoh residents, from the report I got, came through the river to attack. That was the report this morning.
“When Ogbe-Ijoh residents were gearing up for this fight, they attacked the Ogbe-Ijoh Police Station, which is very close to Aladja, and carted away their arms and ammunition. With that, the police became helpless. That was when they called for reinforcement.”
A truce, involving the chairmen of Udu Local Government Area, for Aladja; his Warri Southwest counterpart, for Ogbe-Ijoh, and 10 representatives of both communities, was being convened last night by the Warri Area Commander of the police, Mohammed M’uazu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).