We Need Security, Not Eviction from Cattle Market, Northern Community Tells Otti

We Need Security, Not Eviction from Cattle Market, Northern Community Tells Otti

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

The northern community in the Umuchieze cattle market in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State has rejected the eviction order issued by the state government, saying instead, they should be provided with adequate security and be allowed to live inside the market.

The government had asked the traders to find alternative accommodations outside the market as part of measures to checkmate the insecurity associated with the cattle market.

In a statement read to journalists by their spokesman, Mallam Buba Abdullahi Kedemure, at a press conference yesterday, the community also said the plan to fence the market on the 80 hectares of land “will not work.”

Kedemure said asking them to live outside the cattle market, which they have occupied since 2005, translates to asking them to leave Abia State, as it was not practicable for the 15,000 members of the Northern community to live among the natives.

 According to him, “If the government will fence the market, demolish our houses, urge us to go and live in the neighbouring villages, it means the government has automatically chased us away from Abia State.

“It is our strong belief that any attempt or threat to evict the Northern community at Umuchieze cattle stretch in Abia State is an attempt not only to subvert the constitution but also fanning the embers of disunity.”

The statement, which was signed by 14 market leaders and cattle traders, including the Chairman, Alhaji Saleh Algare, and the Secretary-General, Auwal Hamma, dwelt on the various issues arising from the government’s plan to make the cattle market a non-residential general purpose market.

In an apparent defiance to the government’s eviction order, Kedemure said the northern community has the constitutional right to live anywhere they choose, citing Section 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution(as amended).

He stated that “it is unjust, unfair and ungodly for anyone to prevent any Nigerian, irrespective of tribe and religious affiliation, from staying in any part they so desired to stay in Nigeria.”

He said most of the cattle traders living inside the cattle market were born and brought up in Abia State, hence, they have no other state other than Abia State.

Though the market leaders conceded that the state Governor, Alex Otti, has the right to ask them to relocate from the market, “the way he has continued to paint our communities black is worrisome.”

They insisted that the discovery of decomposing and headless bodies by security agents as announced last Sunday by Governor Otti has nothing to do with the cattle market.

The spokesman said the Northern community is peaceful and law-abiding, hence, they should not be linked to criminal activities around the environs and neighbouring communities.

He stated that “it is unfair, unjust, and ungodly to accuse the northern community of killing and kidnapping without giving due attention to what they are going through.”

Kedemure said the northern community members were victims of criminal activities, adding that in the past 18 years, they had lost many lives and cattle worth millions of naira.

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