A long-standing boundary dispute between the Yache-Ijiegu community in Cross River State and the Tiv settlers from Benue State has escalated into a deadly conflict that has claimed at least 20 lives.
The violence erupted on Thursday when a Yache farmer, Ayeku Godwin Ochuole, was allegedly killed by Tiv attackers on his farm. Nine other people were reportedly abducted and injured by gunfire.
The Yache community accused the Tiv settlers of refusing to pay royalties for their land use, which they claimed was a customary practice. The Tiv settlers, however, denied the allegation and said they were being extorted and harassed by the Yache people.
The Tiv leaders also claimed that they had lived on the land for over a century and had intermarried with the Yache people. They said they were also citizens of Cross River State and had the right to own properties.
The clash has resulted in the burning of houses and crops on both sides, as well as the displacement of hundreds of people, mostly women and children.
The security forces deployed to restore peace have faced challenges in containing the situation, as both sides have continued to launch attacks from the bushes.
One soldier was reportedly killed by the Yache fighters on Saturday.
A joint peace meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, with the hope of ending the hostilities and finding a lasting solution to the boundary dispute.