Abia State Government has described as false news making the rounds that it has directed Northerners, who live and conduct their businesses at the Lokpanta Cattle Market, around the Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway by Umunneochi, to leave the state.
The government said there was no iota of truth in the fake news as those Northerners “are the second and third generations of Igbos” living in Lokpanta.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Navy Commander Macdonald Ubah (rtd), made this clarification while briefing Journalists at the Government House, Umuahia, on Monday.
Ubah noted that the Lokpanta-Uturu axis of the state has been under siege by criminal elements in the last couple of years, prompting the major steps recently taken by the State Government to eliminate the spate of kidnappings and other criminal activities in the area.
He said preliminary investigation points to the Lokpanta Cattle Market as a major hide out for all kinds of individuals involved in different criminal activities, including kidnappings, organ harvesting, armed robbery and other violent crimes.
The retired Naval Commander said ransom for kidnap victims around the Uturu-Umunneochi axis were paid in the market, a situation which prompted the government to, among other measures, carry out deliberate actions including demolition of brothels and shanties in the market.
Ubah, who described Governor Alex Otti, OFR, as a detribalised Nigerian, having appointed non-Abians into his cabinet, noted that most of the cattle dealers in the state are second and third generations of Igbos, and therefore the Governor Otti-led government could not have given such directive.
He said that the stand of government is that the market would no longer be residential, but a daily market. He maintained that government’s decision to make the Lokpanta Cattle Market a daily market is in the interest of the citizens and the cattle dealers, adding that government will not rescind the decision.
He told the media that he had on two ocassions held meetings with the leadership of the market unions, where he informed them of government’s decision to make the market a daily one for security reasons.