Aleast, one person has been reported killed and scores of residents injured in the renewed hostilities between Aladja and Ogbe-Ijoh communities over the lingering boundary dispute in Delta State.
While Aladja, is a community in Udu council area, Ogbe-Ijoh, is the local government headquarters for Warri South West.
Hundreds of persons especially women and children had fled to neighboring communities for safety, sources told our correspondent on Saturday.
It was gathered that renewed hostilities began Wednesday night over a pot of charm that was allegedly prepared by some persons from Ogbe-Ijoh and deposited in the disputed land which was destroyed by Aladja youths.
The dead victim was said to be an indigene of Aladja. A house in the same community was alleged to have been set ablaze on Friday evening by armed youths from Ogbe-Ijoh communities.
Secretary, Ogbe-Ijoh Warri Governing Council, Aaron Oweizi-Ebiye told newsmen on Saturday that the incident was as a result of an earlier attack by youths from Aladja community who had on several occasions, invaded Ogbe-Ijoh community.
“This attack had led to the inviting of the Ovie of Udu, HRM E. Delekpe by the Warri Area Command of the Nigeria Police over the activities of his subjects”, Oweize-Ebiye said.
But, in swift reaction, Chairman, Aladja Governing Council, Dogene Elias refuted the claim, saying Ogbe-Ijoh youths have been trying since Wednesday to take armed battle into their community.
Dogene accused the police of providing cover for Ogbe-Ijoh’s successful invasion of his community, which he said has left a house burnt and several persons displace.
According to him, “We have been complaining to the security authorities that it has become a habit that Ogbe-Ijoh youths are always firing guns every two to three hours. On Wednesday, they attempted attack and our boys repelled them.
“On Thursday, it was tough. They were advancing towards our sides and we had to defend ourselves. Towards this evening, the mobile police stationed there were aiding them. As Ogbe-Ijoh advances, the mobile police will be shooting teargas towards Aladja. One of our boys was hit by the canister yesterday. One of his eyes is gone as a result. He is here for verification.
“As the teargas disperses our people, their boys will be advancing, shooting directly at us. This morning, we were thinking there has been relative peace. The Area Commander called us, pressuring that we should open the road which we have blocked in self help to forestall attack.”
He added, “The road was opened and up till 5pm we were calling them to send in the other team, they didn’t send any. The soldiers in Ogbe-Ijoh had left. The replacement mobile police failed to show up and the result of that is what has happened now. They came in army uniforms. They burnt a house in Iwhre Quarters. We can’t say the casualty situation for now. A lot of people have moved out. The area is a bit calm now”
So far, sources said no casualty has been recorded on the side of Ogbe-Ijoh community but thousand of Aladja residents close to the disputed boundary have fled their homes.
The state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had only last week set up an eight-man panel of inquiry to find a lasting solution to the lingering land dispute between the two communities.
Okowa, while inaugurating the committee headed by Professor Abednego Ekoko, called for calm from both communities as his administration would deal decisively with anyone caught fomenting trouble in the area.
The acting spokesman of the Delta State Police Command, Charles Muka, did not pick calls when contacted on the incident.