Following bloody clashes between two rival cults identified as Maphite and Vikings, no fewer than three people have been brutally murdered as the groups were reportedly fighting over the control of ticket issuance to tricycle operators in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
According to a report on Punch, trouble started at about 1:00pm on Wednesday when a key figure in the Vikings, Emmanuel Actor, was trailed and murdered by the rival Maphite group on Palm Street in the Calabar South area.
It was learnt that Emmanuel, who allegedly controlled the issuance of tickets to commercial tricycle operators along Nelson Mandela Street, went to an area controlled by the rival group on Egerton Street and stabbed a key opponent in an attempt to expand his territory.
The Maphite group was said to have immediately regrouped and trailed Emmanuel to Palm Street where he was brought out from his tricycle and hacked to death as the group reportedly started shooting sporadically along major business routes in Calabar South, which forced traders to shut down business activities.
According to reports, another Vikings member was killed on Etta-Agbor Road, while the clash, which continued on Thursday, also claimed the life of another unidentified cultist on Richard Henshaw Street by Edibe-Edibe Road.
Okereke Mong, an eyewitness, said the cultists on Wednesday terrorised Calabar-South for more than four hours without interference from any security agencies.
“They started the fight on Egerton Street. I learnt that Emmanuel Actor, who was the immediate past leader of Vikings group attempted to take over the issuance of tickets to tricycle operators on Egerton Street. In the process of trying to assert control, he stabbed one of the Maphite members with a broken bottle.
“Hours later, the group trailed him to Palm Street and intercepted his tricycle. They brought him out and shot him. They also used axes to break open his skull. He bled to death. They waited till he breathed his last before leaving the place. The incident lasted for over one hour and there was no police intervention.
“The police arrived after the incident. The same group proceeded to Etta-Agbor to kill another Vikings member,” he said.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Department of Public Transport, Gabriel Okulaja, however said the agencies involved in issuance of tickets to tricycle riders did not have anything to do with cultism.
While denying knowledge of the existence of groups issuing tickets to commercial tricycle operators, Okulaja pointed out that touts had constituted themselves as collection agents in Calabar-South without remitting any funds to the approved agents.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer for the state, Mr. John Eluu, confirmed the incident, adding that one of the suspects had been arrested, adding that the mutilated corpse of had been deposited in a mortuary while efforts were on to arrest other cult members.