Ogbonnaya Ikokwu, Umuahia
Indigenes of Mgbarakuma, Ubakala
in Umuahia South Local Government Area, Abia State has called on the state government to relocate the Abattoir in the community following an alleged inhumane treatment against them by the butchers.
They alleged that the butchers were extorting, assaulting raping their women and selling hard drugs in the community.
The locals led by their traditional ruler HRH Eze Ebere Ubani, in a peaceful protest on Wednesday block the Abattoir, thereby grounding all commercial activities.
They displayed placards with the following inscriptions; We shall never give up what belongs to us,
Land allocated without development over the years must be revoked and returned to the owner, Say no to imposters and our women have no place to farm and our land allocated to goverment without development.
Speaking during the protest the traditional ruler said the butchers have refused to pay royalties to the community for donating their land to them over the years.
He also alleged that the butchers who are predominantly indigenes of Ibeku in Umuahia North Local Government Area, were intimidating his subjects to the extent of forcing them to pay gate fees if go to the Abattoir to purchase meat.
He said, “When I became as the Eze(king) of this community, I called the butchers for a meeting with our people, but they said they wanted to meet with me privately. I insisted that the meeting must be with the either community.
“Instead of cooperating with us
they wrote me a stinker, claiming that I cannot do anything because they have the backing of the government in power then. They even threatened to report me to the former speaker of the House of Assembly. I had to tolerate them because I wanted peace to reign.
“This Abattoir have been here for 30 years without any good impact on our community. Apart from this Abattoir, other lands belongings to us were also acquired by the Federal Government to build the Nigeria Immigration office and Prison but no compensation was paid to our people.
“The butchers intimidate and assault our people, rape our women and sale hard drugs which has a big negative impact on our youths. We are calling on the state government to revoke this land and ask the butchers to relocate to the cattle market at Laokpanta.
“We want the government to revoke the agreement they have with butchers and give us back our land for our women to farm on them. We are also telling the government to always involved us whenever they want to give our land to any institution for development so that we can negotiate on how our youths can be employed.
The traditional prime minister in the community High chief christian Ndu onyebuchi and the women leader Deconness Nwanna Udo, also collaborated their traditional ruler by confirming the alleged inhumane treatment against them by the butchers.
In their words, “The butchers are collecting money from our own women who are selling vegetables in the Abattoir in our own land and we say no to that.
“They had attacked and blinded one of our sons who is now seeing with only one eye, they are raping our women and sale hard drugs in our bushes, we want the government to help us by telling them to leave our land for us”.
The secretary general of the community Mr Ezeigbo Chinedum, lamented that the presence of the butchers in the community is doing it more harm than good.
He said the troublesome attitude of the butchers is painting the community in a bad light and chasing other genuine organization away from them.
He said, “They are preventing our people from developing the land that goverment allocated to them here. They said the land is their own and we have asked them to present their evidence. We have also reported the matter to ministry of Land and Housing.
“The National Directorate of Employment is threatening to relocate their training centre from our community because of the activities of the butchers, so we want the state government to help us and ask them to go back to Laokpanta because their presence here is not doing us any good”.
But when contacted the President Butchers Association Umuahia chapter Mr Ngozi Williams,
denied all the allegations leveled against them by the the community.
He said the protest by the community members was a surprise to them when they got to the Abattoir and saw that the protesters had blocked the entrance.
Williams said the butchers and the community members have had a cordial relationship over the years, adding that they will approach the traditional ruler for a dialogue and resolution of the crisis.
“The Abattoir has existed for 30 years and we have been doing business with the community members without any disturbance. We are surprised to see people protesting in the market today. We have resolved to meet the traditional ruler for a peaceful dialogue to resolve the issue”, he said.