A renewed cult clash which started on Monday has claimed the lives of over 15 people in Akpabuyo/Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State.
Residents in the affected areas have deserted their villages and communities while economic and social activities have been disrupted.
It was learnt that the three popular cult groups in the area, Skyro, Mafia and Black Scorpion, have always engaged in bloody clashes.
An eyewitness who declined mentioning his name, lamented the action of the youths and called for the intervention of security operatives.
“This time, the operation was bloody.
“Imagine one of the suspected cult group took their members to a local charm doctor to prepare bullet prove charm and when they tested it by shooting one of them, he died on the spot” he said.
The eyewitness claimed that some houses and other properties worth millions of naira were destroyed by the hoodlums.
“These boys ran amock and destroyed many houses in the two local government areas”
When contacted, the Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, Igri Ewa, he said the command has not been briefed on the cult activities in the areas.
However, the chairman of Bakassi local government council, Hon Iyadim Iyadim, while confirming the operation of the cult groups, regretted the actions of the youths.
“There are lots of killings in the area. It’s cult related but I have not heard of the destruction of houses.
“The last boy who died, his colleagues took him for charm preparation, to prepare charm for them so that bullets and other dangerous weapons will not penetrate their body,” he told our correspondent via phone.
“When he was put on trial, to ascertain the efficacy of the charm, he was shot and he died. That cult group lost three persons coupled with the ones the rival group killed..
“Up to ten persons have been killed and the operations started last two months and extended to this month (May); that is March, April and May.
“We have reported the matter to the government and on Tuesday, we had a security meeting with the governor,” he stated.
Iyadim explained that his local government, Bakassi has no operational base because the same boys destroyed the local government office during the #EndSARS protests.
“Not even a ruler or pin was left. What was left was for them to put fire in the local government secretariats, so nothing is left.
“And as at now, some soldiers who were around have been withdrawn and redeployed to other areas. The boys have ransacked police stations and attacked soldiers.
“The security agencies are afraid as they used charms and have adopted a measure of going to operation in large numbers to attack the military post and police station.
“The charm will make the security operatives to either fall asleep or make them not to see them as they approach. We are in trouble.
The Security Adviser, South South, Henry Okokon said, “We know your ears are on ground and you know the efforts the security agencies have put in the state as a whole.
“We cannot be everywhere at the same time but come to see it, the scripture says God helps those who help themselves, the community should have their own vigilante, they should also provide security for themselves
“Before things get out of hands, proactive measures should have been put in place. If you have these children as cultists and they are troubling people in that community, just let the security agencies know.
“Must they wait until they start killing people before they call us, more so, if it does not affect a particular person directly of indirectly they will not call or inform anybody.
“We have chiefs and traditional rulers in those places; ask me what they have been doing. The government had met with them, asking them to fish out all these dangerous boys or inform us.
“But they refuse to do that rather they allow them to kill people and destroy property before they start calling. We work 24 hours to ensure that we achieve peace in Calabar.
“There is no more kidnapping because of the intensive security check and they now go beside the riverine areas where there are creeks, where two minutes you are in the creeks and they go there to do the kidnap.
“The Chiefs in Akpabuyo and Bakassi know these boys, we have told them that if you know these boys tell us,we shall pick them and take them to correctional centre for them to rest there for a while.
“Be it as it may, we shall storm Akpabuyo and Bakassi and embark on house to house search with a view to fetching out these boys and hoodlums,” he said.