Special Adviser on Security to the Governor of Abia State, Macdonald Ubah, on Thursday, debunked as false the news making the rounds that the Abia State Government had directed northerners who lived and conduct their businesses at Lokpanta cattle market, along the Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt expressway by Umunneochi, to leave the state.
Briefing journalist at the Government House, Umuahia, the retired naval commander 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.
The security aide said preliminary investigation pointed to the Lokpanta Cattle Market as a major hideout for all kinds of individuals involved in different criminal activities, including kidnappings, organ harvesting, armed robbery and other violent crimes.
Ubah said ransoms 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.
While describing Governor Alex Otti as a detribalised Nigerian, having appointed non-Abians into his cabinet, Ubah noted that most of the cattle dealers in the state are second and third-generation Igbo, and, therefore, the Governor Otti-led government could not have given such a directive.
He said that the government’s stand remained that the market would no longer be residential, but a daily market.
The retired naval commander maintained that the Abia State Government’s decision to make the Lokpanta Cattle Market a daily market was in the interest of the citizens and the cattle dealers, adding that the government will not rescind the decision.
He told journalists that he had on two occasions 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.
He stressed that there was no plan by the current government in Abia State to evict northerners from Lokpanta, nor did Governor Otti give such directive as claimed in the fake report.