Conflict Bulletin:
Cross River State - Patterns and Trends, 2012-2014

Published May 5, 2015
By Nate Haken and Patricia Taft*
Nigeria Conflict Bulletins
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To the southeast of Nigeria, the coastal state of Cross River 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. Benedict Ayade (PDP) won the 2015 gubernatorial election in April.

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.

Otherwise, after two relatively peaceful years in 2010-2011, Cross River saw an increase in violence in 2012-2013, with two notable peaks in the first half of 2012 and first half of 2013. Overall, 47 violent incidents were reported that led to the deaths of over 170 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 the 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 ( It represents a compilation of the data from sources listed below, not necessarily opinions of FFP or any other organization that collaborated on the production of this bulletin.

The screenshot of the heat map on this page shows the relative geographic distribution of incidents between 2012 and 2014. The bar chart shows the relative violence from one Niger Delta state to the next. 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 Niger Delta states per capita. The summaries draw on data collected by FFP’s UNLocK, the Council on Foreign Relations’ NST, WANEP Nigeria, CSS/ETH Zurich, NEEWS/TMG, Nigeria Watch, and ACLED integrated on the P4P platform. They also draw on data and information from “Violence in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends,” by Patricia Taft and Nate Haken (Springer Press, April 2015).

LGA Level Summary

Calabar Municipal/South
(Cross River South Senatorial District)

The largest and capital city of Cross River, Calabar, has experienced the most sustained levels of per capita violence in the state during 2012-2014. Predominant issues related to crime, domestic violence, piracy, as well as clashes between gangs, cults or political groups. In March 2012, four were reportedly killed in a clash between Vikings and KKK cult (gang) members. In June 2012, six were reportedly killed in a similar cult clash. Additionally, in September 2012, four 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.

During 2014, protests were prevalent in the capital with a range of groups advocating for change. In May, over 1000 students reportedly staged a protest against government inaction to rescue the abducted Chibok school girls. In May and September, groups of taxi drivers and women staged separate protests opposing high LGA and state taxation rates. In November, former public servants in Cross River State local government protested over non-payment of allowances.

Pre-election violence related to both state and federal elections was also evident during 2014. Three students from the University of Calabar were reportedly killed by security forces after the group began a protest over a local election issue. Witnesses reported the killings may have been unintentional. In November a explosion was reported at the PDP Secretariat.

Cult clashes resulted in a number of fatalities in 2014, including four people who were killed in a shoot-out between two rival cult groups; the Vikings and KKK in August. Crime also continued to cause insecurity in Calabar South, with gunmen attacking a petrol station killing six people in late December and taking off with several million Naira.

(Cross River South Senatorial District)

In April 2013, five were reportedly killed by Cameroonian gendarmes for refusing to vacate an area ruled to now be part of Cameroon. In July, it was reported that police had broken up and arrested members of an arms dealing syndicate. Then, in August, a police officer and a civilian were allegedly killed in a revenge attack by suspected pirates after having been targeted by police operations. In December 2014, gunmen reportedly attacked a filling station, shooting three, including a police officer. No motive was given for the attack.

(Cross River Central Senatorial District)

In 2012-2013, long-standing land disagreements 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.

April and May in 2014 there was an increase in intercommunal violence over land disputes. Clashes were reported between the people of Usumutong and Ediba over a piece of land, causing security forces to intervene to restore order, with fatalities estimated at 15 people. Three civilians were killed a month later in similar clashes over farmland boundaries.

(Cross River North Senatorial District)

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. No further incidents were reported for 2014.

(Cross River South Senatorial District)

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 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.

Though reported incidents remained relatively low throughout 2013 and 2014 in Odukpani, in November 2014 three people were reportedly killed in a political clash. It was alleged that one of the victims was intentionally hit by a truck during the unrest as part of a pre-mediated attack.

(Cross River Central Senatorial District)

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. No further incidents were reported for 2014.

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* Hannah Blyth and Ania Skinner contributed to this report.