The Northern community in Umuchieze Cattle Market in Umunneochi Local government Area of Abia has appealed to Gov. Alex Otti to allow them to reside inside the market.
The traders, who are predominantly dealers in cattle, made the appeal at a news briefing in the market on Wednesday.
They also reacted to the government’s claim that it discovered a large number of decomposed and headless bodies as well as “countless skeletons” in the market located at Lokpanta in Umuchieze.
The governor announced the weird discovery during his Sunday’s parley with journalists.
Mr Otti, who had expressed concern over the state of insecurity at the Umuennochi/Isuikweato axis, said that the market had become a den of criminals and kidnappers.
He had insisted that the government was going ahead with its plan to make the market non-residential.
He, therefore, ordered the traders to live with the natives in the neighbouring communities.
Reacting to the order, the spokesman for the community, Buba Abdullahi, expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s position.
Mr Abdullahi debunked the government’s claim that the market was littred with decomposed corpses and skeletons and that the market harboured criminals.
He also blamed the media for their failure to investigate the allegation before publishing.
He described the government’s allegation as an alibi to execute its premeditated plot to chase them away from the land they had occupied since 2005.
He further alleged that part of the plot was the recent demolition of houses in the market.
Mr Abdullahi put their population at 15,000, saying that they occupied about 80 hectares of the land that was donated to them by the Orji Kalu-led government.
According to him, if the government would fence the market, demolish our houses and ask us to go and live in the neighbouring villages, it means it has automatically chased us away from Abia.
He said: “We northerners are peace-loving and very accommodating.
“This is the reason there are many southerners in the North doing their businesses without harassment and threats of eviction.
“It is unjust, unfair and ungodly for anyone to prevent any Nigerian from staying in any part they so desired in Nigeria.
“There is a general misconception that the northern community is harbouring criminals, but all the brothels, rooms, beer parlours, night clubs and lodging accommodation recently demolished belong to the natives.”
Mr Abdullahi said that it would be a “tactical mistake for us to relocate to communities in Umuchieze,” considering the prevailing high rate of crime in the area.
He said that some of them were also victims of the heavy crimes and criminalities taking place around the area.
He expressed their readiness to collaborate with the state government toward finding a lasting solution to the security challenges in the area.
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