Over 2000 traders protest in Onitsha over 'transfer' of Boko Haram prisoners

By The Citizen

Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of South Easter zone of the councameras temporarily shut down yesterday as over 2000 traders  protested what they said posed a threat to their lives and means of livelihood.

The traders took to the streets to kick over alleged plan to transfer detained Boko Haram suspects to prisons in Anambra State.

All commercial outlets, including the Onitsha main market, Ekwulobia, Eke Awka and Nnewi markets were shut and commercial and social activities grounded throughout the duration of the protest which lasted for hours.

The protesters blocked Uga Junction, the major road connecting the state capital Awka and Onitsha, chanting war songs

They also carried placards some of which read: 'We need Biafra, we don't want Boko Haram'; 'We are going to declare another war if this decision is not rescinded'.

Security operatives were quickly deployed in all the major streets in the state to maintain law and order.

The President General of the Amalgamated Traders Association (AMATAS) in the state, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo, told reporters in Onitsha that it was wrong of the federal government to bring Boko Haram suspects to Anambra State.

He said detaining Boko Haram anywhere in the state would constitute a threat to the traders' businesses.

He said they stood to lose as much as N5billion in the event of any Boko Haram crisis in the state.

He asked Governor Willie Obiano to seek the assurance of President Muhammadu Buhari that no Boko Haram prisoner would be brought to the state.

Asked about the veracity of the 'transfer' of the Boko Haram detainees, Ezenwankwo said the traders had their ears to the ground

The state Police Command warned the residents against taking the law into their hands, stressing that people should confirm information before acting on it.

Spokesman for the police, Mr. Uche Eze, said: 'We are on top of the situation and that was the reason the protest was peaceful without any destruction by those who embarked on it.'

A stakeholder in the state, Godwin Ezeemo, hoped the rumour would remain a rumour.

Ezeemo said: 'Mixing extremists with ordinary prisoners tends to do more danger than they are trying to prevent.'

He advised government to create special prisons for hard line terrorists in the country.

He also demanded assurance from the federal government that it has no intention of inflicting terrorists on Anambra.