Dozens of people were injured and about six houses torched in Aladja community yesterday as the unending land dispute between Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja communities in Delta State boiled over yesterday.
The fighting continued till in the evening when Navy, Army and Police personnel were deployed to both communities.
No fewer than 18 persons, according to security reports, had so far lost their lives in perennial land ownership clashes by both communities.
There were conflicting accounts of what triggered yesterday’s clash by the communities.
According to the Youths President of Aladja community, Wisdom Onotomre, Ijaw youths from Ogbe-Ijoh stormed the border end of Aladja as early of 5:00 a.m. shooting sporadically and burning houses. He said the attack was unprovoked.
But the Youths President of Ogbe-Ijoh, Edwin Aken, said the attack was provoked by an earlier one during which the Aladja attackers left two persons injured.
He said: “If they say Ogbe-Ijoh people attack them, that is a very wrong statement. They were the ones who attacked Ogbe-Ijoh at about 6:15 a.m. They came to attack and definitely nobody will fold his arms and watch when they are coming to kill him. So, it was in retaliation to what they did. Ogbe-Ijoh didn’t just go to attack them; they attacked us first.”
When contacted yesterday on phone, the Pere of Ogbe-Ijoh Kingdom, HRM Couple Oromoni, confirmed the clash but declined to comment further.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw People’s Development Initiative (IPDI) has alleged that personnel of the Nigerian Navy, NNS Delta, took side with Aladja community to attack the Ogbe-Ijoh community.
According to Ozobo Austin of the IPDI, the Navy went with several gun-boats to attack Ogbe-Ijoh yesterday and that several persons were shot while many sustained bullet injuries.
He said the communal crisis was not between Navy and Ogbe-Ijoh but Aladja community.
However, the Navy has denied taking side with Aladja community to attack Ogbe-Ijoh.
According to Lt. Ranga H. H, who spoke on phone with The Guardian: “The Navy has never taken side with any community against another, and we’ll never do that.”