Ogbonnaya Ikokwu, Umuahia
The Abia State Governor Alex Otti,
has disclosed that 20 decomposing dead bodies and skeletons were discovered by security operatives during a raid of forest around the Lokpanta cattle market on the Umunneochi axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt express way.
He said another 50 dead bodies was also found around the market, while the payment of ransom to suspected kidnappers was equally traced to the market.
Otti made revelation on Sunday during the second edition of his monthly media chat in Umuahia the state capital.
He vowed that no inch of the state land mass will be left for criminals in line with his administration’s commitment to protect the lives of every citizen and visitors to the state.
He insisted that the resolve of the state to make the cattle market a daily market was not targeted at any particular tribe in the country, but rather it was aimed at revamping the security architecture of the market and its host community.
He said, “We have taken a stand to provide adequate security to Abia citizens and visitors because we know that no goverment can succeed in the face of insecurity. This goverment will not get involved in supporting criminals or allow them to occupy any part of the state.
“When we decided to occupy the Lokpanta cattle market in Umunneochi Local Government Area of the state, we discovered 50 dead bodies, 20 headless dead bodies, men, women and children and uncountable skeletons. We also discovered that ransoms paid to kidnappers were usually dropped close to the market.
“But it was unfortunate that some people misinterpreted our action to mean that we asked the Northerners trading in the market to leave the state, but after our interactions with leaders of Northern community, we told them that anyone who is not in support of the moves we are making to secure the state must be a criminal, they saw reasons with us and quickly reversed the quit notice they issued to Igbos in the North.
“That’s why we have decided to make the market a daily market, people can go to the market and do their business and go home at the end of the day. The market will not be only a cattle market again, but it will have other sections for other goods like every other market.
“Those who live inside the market will now live among other people in the state outside the market”
The governor maintained that his administration is committed to use government money to provide quality infrastructure for her residents, adding that the government will not use its resources to service attention seekers and supposed political stakeholders.
He called on those with complaints of shortage in the payment of their salaries to approach the office of the Account General of the state with their petitions, adding that such petitions will be treated with the urgency it demands.