Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
As the move by the Abia State Government to convert the Lokpanta Regional Cattle Market in Umunneochi into a day market is being misconstrued in some quarters, cattle dealers in the market have appealed to the Government to reconsider the proposal.
The cattle dealers who said that stopping them from living inside the market would inconvenience them appealed to the State Government to provide them with about 4000 housing units if it wants them to live outside the market.
They expressed their opposition to converting the market into a day market.
Speaking during an interactive session between a delegation of Government officials and the leadership of the cattle dealers at Lokpanta on Tuesday, the Chairman of Cattle Marketers Association in the state, Alhaji Saleh Algare, who spoke for the dealers during an interface with Government officials, appealed to government to give the traders some consideration.
He argued that the location of the market made living outside the environment hazardous.
Asked if Northerners in the market were given quit notice by the State Government, Alhaji Algare, said no, and dismissed the insinuation as false.
“No Northerner was told to go home. It’s not true. But we are appealing to Government not to stop us from residing inside the market.
“When the cattle market was still in Umuahia, we come and do our business and go back to our home. But here is a bush. Let them allow us to live here because it is far from town.”
He disagreed that the cattle market was being used as a hideout for criminals, claiming that the leadership of the market always hands over arrested criminals to security agencies.
Adding his voice, the Chairman of Northern Community in the state, Alhaji Eze Danladi Yaro, said cattle dealers in the market were law abiding and not criminals.
He also pleaded with the State Government to be lenient on the traders.
Addressing the traders, Security Adviser to the Governor, Navy Commander MacDonald Ubah (retd.), explained that contrary to social media reports, the Abia Government never issued any quit notice to Northerners.
He said that the decision of Government to convert the market into a day market was not targeted against anybody but a necessary step to contain criminality in the axis.
The Security Adviser who described Gov. Alex Otti as “a detribalised Nigerian,” urged the traders to disregard the false report as it was a total falsehood.
He further explained that intelligence report had shown that hoodlums had infiltrated the market, using it as a hideout.
The SA said traders were not allowed to reside inside major markets in Nigeria, wondering why that of the cattle market will be different.
He said that brothels which were recently demolished in the market were found to be dens of criminals.
Navy Commander Uba who noted that the rate of kidnapping around the Lokpanta Regional Cattle Market had drastically reduced since after the demolition of the brothels.
He said that the Abia State Government was resolute in ensuring the protection of all residents and visitors to the state irrespective of their state of origin.
The Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the Governor, Mr Kazie Uko, who was part of the Government officials at the meeting, expressed shock at how the mischief makers twisted Governor’s simple directive.
He assured the traders the the Governor has no ulterior motive against, urging them to support the move which is aimed at ensuring a water-tight security around the axis.