Two killed, properties looted in Bayelsa communal clash

No fewer than two persons have been killed, while homes and shops were looted and destroyed in a communal clash between Opolo and Okutukutu communities of Yenagoa Local Government Area, of Bayelsa State.

The Monday clash was said to be a reprisal attack on Opolo indigenes after several years they allegedly carried out same attack on Okutukutu indigenes over dispute on ancestral boundaries of their communal land, a source revealed.

Trouble started when some indigenes of Opolo went to the said land and were attacked by their neighbours who claimed they were going beyond their boundaries.

It was gathered that the disputed land was challenged in court but the Supreme Court ruled recently in favour of Opolo community.

Some indigenes of Opolo told our correspondent that the fight by the two brotherly communities are unnecessary as they have been living together in peace for several years, even before the creation of Bayelsa State and emergence of Yenagoa as the state capital.

The youth president of Okutukutu community, Kester Wilcox, said that it was actually the youths of Opolo community that attacked Okutukutu community and started destroying property belonging to mostly strangers before those property owners mobilised themselves and also retaliated.

Though, he said the casualty figures could not be ascertained at the moment, he urged both the youths of Okutukutu and Opolo communities, as well as strangers residing in both communities to embrace peace, as peace is priceless for accelerated development of the area.

He said they have been age-long boundary issue between the two communities, but didn’t reason that it should snowball into violent attack on the innocent people.

Police Spokesman in Bayelsa State, ASP Musa Muhammed, who confirmed the crisis, said men from the tactical team of the command have been dispatched to the warring areas to restore peace and calm.

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State government have confirmed the land dispute and the unfortunate loss of lives in the violent attack.

Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement on Monday by his media aide, Mr Doubara Atasi, condemned the attack and directed relevant security agencies to fish out the perpetrators for prosecution.

He warned that the present administration would not condone a situation where individuals or communities resort to violence and physical attacks over territorial or land boundary disputes, more so when such matters are pending in the law court of competent jurisdiction.

He urged the feuding communities to shield their swords as the state government is taking every necessary step to resolve the issue, including an emergency meeting with leadership of the affected communities in his office by 3pm on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

He expressed deep regrets over the loss of lives and property from the incident, and assured the bereaved families that government would do everything within its powers to ensure that justice was served.

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