Cross River State - July 2014
Published July 10, 2014
By Patricia Taft*
Nigeria Conflict Bulletins
The coastal state of Cross River in the southeastern part of Nigeria is home to approximately 2.9 million people (2006 census), predominantly of Efik, Ejagham and Bekwarra background. One of the fastest growing states in Nigeria, Cross River is endowed with vast mineral resources, plentiful arable land, and a growing number of tourist attractions.
Liyel Imoke of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was elected governor of Cross River in August 2008 after his first electoral victory of April 2007 was annulled by an Election Appeal Tribunal. He was re-elected in February 2012.
For years, Cross River was the stage to a heated territorial dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula. After a controversial UN-backed ICJ verdict in 2002 and a comprehensive resolution between the two nations in 2006, Abuja began to transfer authority of the peninsula to Yaoundé, and Cameroon eventually took full sovereignty of Bakassi in August 2013.
Violence in Cross River has tended to be episodic, with brief lethal spikes, killing dozens at a time. Since 2010, 74 reported violent incidents led to the deaths of an estimated 274 people, particularly around the capital city of Calabar to the south and in the Yakurr, Ogoja and Abi Local Government areas (LGAs). While the nature of violence in the capital varies, land competition and communal clashes remain primary causes of fatalities in LGAs outside of Calabar according to the data.
This Conflict Bulletin provides a brief snapshot of the trends and patterns of conflict risk factors at the State and LGA levels, drawing on the data available on the P4P Digital Platform for Multi-Stakeholder Engagement (www.p4p-nigerdelta.org). The screenshot of the heat map above shows the relative distribution of incidents by LGA from 2012– June 2014. The bar chart shows the relative violence from one Niger Delta state to the next over the time period of 2010-2014. The trend-line on the next page shows the number of incidents and fatalities over time. The second bar chart shows the trend of incidents of insecurity by LGA per capita. The summaries draw on data collected by FFP’s UNLocK, the Council on Foreign Relations’ NST, WANEP Nigeria, CSS/ETH Zurich, Nigeria Watch, and ACLED integrated on the P4P platform.
LGA Level Summary January 2012 - June 2014
The largest and capital city of Cross River, Calabar has experienced the highest levels of per capita violence in the state in the period of 2012-2014. Predominant issues related to crime, domestic violence, piracy, as well as clashes between gangs, cults or political groups. In March 2012, four people were reportedly killed in a cult clash between Vikings and KKK members. In June 2012, six were reportedly killed in a similar clash. Additionally, in September 2012, four individuals were reportedly killed in a PDP intra-party dispute. Furthermore, as the city is the political capital of the state, there were a number of protests in 2012-2013, led either by employees of the state’s internal revenue service (September 2012), university students and staff (September 2012, August 2013, October 2013), or those protesting over the Bakassi issue (October 2012). Finally, the city experienced a landslide in September 2013, reportedly killing 10. As of 2014, one protest has been reported in this LGA. In 2014, two robbers were reportedly lynched by a mob, a university lecturer was killed by suspected cultists, and hundreds of taxi drivers reportedly protested high local government taxes.
In 2012-2013, long-standing land disputes in Abi sometimes turned violent. In January 2013, a community in Ikwo LGA in neighboring Ebonyi State reportedly clashed with communities in Abi. During this incident over a dozen people were reportedly killed in the course of a week. A similar clash led to seven deaths in March 2013. Separately, a police inspector was also killed by armed robbers in September 2013. In 2014, incidents centered on communal clashes. In April, there were violent clashes between two communities over a piece of land, killing about a dozen people. In May, two people were reportedly killed during a communal clash over the boundary line between a community in Cross River and one in neighboring Ebyoni state.
Apart from a robbery that led to the death of three in Ugep in January 2012, the LGA has seen a handful of inter-communal land disputes. In April 2013, eight were reportedly killed in a clash between two communities over a piece of farmland. In June 2013, four people in one community were reportedly killed by the people of another after a suspect was apprehended for allegedly stealing.
The LGA was hit by heavy rainstorms in May 2012, reportedly killing three and displacing thousands. Additionally, there were issues of crime and vigilante justice in 2013, a deadly clash between youths and police in October 2013, and a violent clash between two rival cult groups in November 2013.
In the line graph above, the spike in fatalities in the first half of 2012 was associated with a large-scale inter-communal land dispute in Odukpani LGA in May of that year. People from a community in neighboring Akwa Ibom state reportedly clashed with a community in Odukpani, destroying churches and killing over forty villagers.
The two LGAs experienced inter-communal land disputes in 2012-2013. In Boki, hostilities between two communities in April 2012 reportedly led to the death of three people. In Etung, five people were reportedly killed in a clash between two communities in April 2013.
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* Marcela Aguirre contributed to this report.