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Against the backdrop of recent happenings, leaders of the northern community in Lokpanta cattle market in the Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State have pointed out that traders in the market are not involved in kidnapping and other criminal activities.
In a statement on Wednesday, the spokesman for the community, Buba Abdullahi declared that they were not aware of decomposing bodies uncovered in the forest around the market by security agencies.
The Eastern Updates recalls that Governor Alex Otti had on Sunday announced that 50 dead bodies, 20 decomposing headless bodies, and skeletons were uncovered in a forest near the cattle market during a raid by security agencies.
To lessen criminal activity in the region, the governor said, the market will be walled and opened every day.
However, in a statement made available to our correspondent, Abdullahi said the plans of the government to make the market a daily market wouls amount to chasing the traders away from the state.
He sais the market with a landmass of 80 hectares was donated to the traders in 2005, adding that the population of traders in the market is over 15,000.
He addeed that the Northern community and traders in the market would support efforts of the state government to end criminal activities in the market and pleaded with the governor to allow them to reside in the market to do their business.
He said, ‘If government will fence the market, demolish our houses and urge us to go and live in the neighbouring villages, it means the government has automatically chased us away from Abia State.
‘We cannot live in the village because of the amount of cash we realise from our daily sales. We don’t have banks where we can deposit money around the market or the nearby villages.
‘In the past, leaders of our community have supported the security agencies in identifying criminal hideouts close to the market, and demolition was carried out by the state government under the supervision of the former Commissioner of Police, Mrs Janet Agbede.
‘It is obvious that we are victims of these crimes and criminalities and not accomplices.’