The Northern Community, Umuchieze, has called for a dialogue with the Abia State government to end the security issues surrounding Umuchieze Cattle Market, Umunneochi local government.
Leaders of the community stated this, yesterday, in a signed statement read to newsmen by Alhaji Buba Abdullahi Kedemure during a press conference at the market.
They were reacting to claims and counter claims between the community and the state government that the market had been infiltrated by criminals, who have been terrorising the area.
The statement, signed by 15 leaders, including the chairman, Alhaji Saleh Algare, said “it is obvious that we are also victims of these crimes and criminalities and not accomplish”.
They stressed that adequate security was required both in and around the market to protect lives and property and denied the assertion that the market harbours crime and criminals.
It noted that the moves by the government to evict them from the market as part of measures against insecurity in the area would expose them to untold hardship and security treat.
They claimed that since the land, measuring 80 hectres and habouring over 15,000 people was allocated to them by the government in 2005, they have been living peacefully with the host-community.
“The Northern Community are law abiding citizens of Nigeria engaged in legitimate business of cattle trade and other businesses,” they added, saying they too have been exposed to loss of lives and property during crisis.
Reacting to a claim by the governor, Dr Alex Otti that dead bodies and skeletons were recently discovered in bushes around the market, the leaders said they were not aware of the discovery.
According to the statement “Investigations available to us from the security agencies in the area indicated that the discoveries were neither around nor in the market.”
“Considering the high rate of crimes in the area, today, it will be a tactical mistake for us to relocate to the various communities. We passionately appeal to His Excellency to allow us live in the cattle market.”
In his reaction, the Igbo leader in the market, Mr Uchechukwu Ukairo, said the traders are also at the mercy of criminals and urged the government to improve security in and around it.
Similarly, businessmen, Mr. Uche Ohakwe, High Chief Sunday Ojinduka, Mr. Okechukwu Nwogu, and Alhaji Sariki Audu maintained that the traders abhour crime and criminalities.
They also denied being aware of the bodies nor saw any, urging both the government and the security agencies to investigate, arrest and prosecute those suspected of killing them.