David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
A team of police officers from the Anambra State Police Command yesterday barred women from Abba Community of Njikoka Local Government Area from carrying out commercial activities in Oye Ukpo.
The police officers, who were deployed to the market, also allegedly shot canisters of teargas at the protesters to stop them from accessing the market.
THISDAY gathered that the action might not be unconnected to recent misunderstanding between the community and their neighbours, Ukpo over ownership of land.
Women from the community had last week taken a protest to the government house to complain to the state governor, Mr. Willie Obiano that a certain multi-billionaire from Ukpo was behind the forceful takeover of their land.
Abba women, who were yesterday denied entry into the market relocated to a junction in their community, where they settled to sell their wares.
An elder in the community, Mr Sylvester Nwafor said it was a shameful thing that the billionaire (name withheld) had “to send police men to chase our women away from our market.
“It is so bad to the extent that it makes us feel as if we do not have men in our community. They shot teargas at our women, most of whom are old women, and denied them the opportunity to carry out business in our market today.
“As I speak with you, Oye Ukpo market is in session, but he sent security men to come and chase us from our own market.
At my age, I was even among the 14 people who were arrested by police on the order of this man. We spent several days in prison. We are calling on Obiano to please come to our aid.”
One of the women chased away by the police officers, Mrs Catherine Nwafor said it was after they chased us away from the market that we decided to come here.
According to her, some of us who went to the market yesterday and dropped our wares, they refused us going to pick them, while many people also lost our wares when they started shooting teargas at us.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Haruna Mohammed said there was no such incident as tear gassing of women, neither was there any case of complicity by the police.
He said the command received intelligence report of imminent clash between the two neighbouring communities and deployment was made as a proactive measure to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the Area.