Villagers of Akpabuyo and Bakassi local government areas have refuted claims of a discovery of 23 skulls at camps.
JTF made the disclosure on Thursday, October 27, saying that 23 decomposing human skulls and skeletons had been uncovered during a raid on militant camps belonging to the Bakassi Strike Force, Sunday Punch reports.
According to the reports, the militant camps were reportedly located in Ikot-Ene-Idem, Abakpa and Ikang-Inam communities in Akpabuyo and Bakassi LGAs.
However, speaking with Sunday Punch correspondents on Saturday, October 29, some villages have claimed that the the skulls were in fact, discovered in shrines operated by ritualists.
A resident of Nsidung, who identified himself as Samuel Ekpenyong, told Sunday Punch that the soldiers found the skulls in the shrine of a well-known herbalist identified as Effiom Okon Ita.
“It was in Effiom Okon Ita shrine that the ‘Operation Delta Safe’ discovered 23 skulls. He is a herbalist in Bakassi known for producing charms and other spiritual materials for people in the area.
“The man has no links with militants. He has been a practising herbalist for several years. The man is known for herbal practice and many people from within and outside Cross River State patronise him on a regular basis,” he said.
According to another villager, Anthony Nse, Ita, popularly called Eteobong Ayabom, usually performed traditional rites during big functions in the area.
Nse said, “The soldiers are looking for cheap popularity and that was why they linked the shrine with militants.”
However, another villager from Ikot-Nakanda, Robinson Akpan, said that the herbalist used the human skulls to prepare charms for militants.
The Army Public Relations Officer in charge of 13 Brigade, Calabar, Capt. Kayode Owolabi, when contacted, said he speak on the matter at a later time.