TASK FORCE MEN WERE KILLED, NOT TRADERS
The Chairman of the Nnewi Urban Markets and Parks Board of Trustees, Elder (Dr) Ejiamatu Osita Igbokwe, has given graphic details of the bloodbath that occurred at Agboedo Market Extension and Motor Parks, Uruagu, Nnewi on April 27.
According to him, contrary to reports that men of the Anambra State Task Force on Markets and Parks known in the local parlance as Mpiawa Azu had descended on the Agboedo Market on April 27 and unleashed mayhem in which some persons lost their lives, it was, indeed, youths from Uruagu Nnewi who attacked the task force men and killed their officials.
Therefore, Chief Igbokwe has written to the Anambra State Police Commissioner, the state Director of State Security Service, the Special Adviser to Anambra State Governor on Security and his counterpart on Markets and Parks, as well as the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Anambra State Security Trust Fund to put the record straight and for them to help stem the recurrent crisis in the market.
'On April 24, 2012 men from the State Task Force on Markets and Parks peacefully entered Agboedo Market Extension and Motor Parks as the workers of the Uruagu Nnewi ran away when they saw the task force men in red caps,' he said.
According to him, on that day he had gone to the Nnewi Magistrate Court to witness the hearing of the case on charge No. NNW\39C\2012; Commissioner of Police versus Dr Chukwuemeka Madumelu and four others in the court, i.e. the president general and some members of Uruagu Nnewi Community Development Union.
'I went with some of our workers to listen to the proceedings in the Magistrate Court 1, Nnewi and to meet Inspector Rasak, the prosecutor in the case from state CID legal department, Awka,' he said.
In the court, Igbokwe said Obi ANC Obi (Ogidi), the Obi Uruagu Nnewi was seated with some of his Isi Obis, who were the accused persons in the case.
He said that when the Obi Uruagu got hint that the men of the state task force on markets and parks had arrived at Nnewi, he immediately left the courtroom with his men to discuss outside the court premises.
After their discussion, he said that they returned to the courtroom, but left as the case was not called up immediately.
Eventually when the case was called up and after it, he said they left the court and gave the prosecutor, Razak a ride to catch a taxi back to Awka
'As we heard that the men of the state task force on markets and parks were working in the Agboedo Market Extension and Motor Parks, we decided to pass through the site and indeed we saw them there.
'When we saw them I stopped and called some of them to come and I introduced myself and requested to meet their leader who came and I gave him my business card as the Nnewi Urban Markets and Parks Board of Trustees Chairman and asked him how many of them were in the park and he said 10 and I gave him N2,000 and promised to send our site manager to acquaint them with the extent of Agboedo Market Extension and Motor Parks site and to assist them with their needs. We left the site and dropped the prosecutor, Inspector Razak to go back to Awka,' he said.
Igbokwe disclosed that on the night of April 24, a certain man informed him that Uruagu Nnewi youths and their thugs had met and agreed to launch an attack on the task force men in the Agboedo Market Extension and Motor Parks.
Based on the information, he said he sent text messages to Iko Agulu, Hon Nwobualor, Kennedy his PA; Mazi Nwokoye and Ositadinma Okoye, saying that 'I am informed that thugs and youths met this evening and agreed to attack the market and park by 9:00 a.m. Inform task force to be alert and ready.'
The message he sent, he said was confirmed by the recipients and true to the information from his informant, the task force men were attacked on April 27.
'On Monday April 27, 2012, I was informed by a trader in the main market who phoned me and said: 'What is happening in the Agboedo Market Extension, the men in red cap are being attacked by some youths from Uruagu Nnewi who are already dragging two men in red cap soaked with blood towards Obi Uruagu Nnewi,'' he said.
After making some phone calls, Igbokwe said he immediately left for Awka to inform the SA Markets and Parks of what had happened.
He said that a reliable source from Okpunyo Uzodike village, Uruagu Nnewi who participated in the first attack on April 27, had told him 'that they were not able to overpower the task force men in their first attack and they retreated to Uruagu Nnewi where they were addressed by certain elders of the community and were given money to buy big knives, short wood cutters and the Uruagu vigilante asked to bring their guns and work with the youths and thugs to effect the second attack on the task force men on Agboedo Market Extension and Motor Parks who they were informed have been re-enforced with more men from Onitsha.'
Igbokwe, therefore, informed the police commissioner and others that the youths were told that the police would not intervene until after their second attack.
He traced the problem in the Nnewi Urban Markets and Parks to when Senator Chris Ngege was governor of the state that led to the construction of illegal structures in the Nnewi market by some Uruagu people.
This, he said, resulted into internal wrangling and the numerous police and court cases among the Uruagu Nnewi people.
According to him, several petitions were written by the Nnewi Urban Market and Parks Board of Trustees to the state government through the Special Adviser to the Governor on Markets and Parks and his counterpart on security.
Consequently, he said that the Special Adviser to the Governor on Markets and Parks, Chief Sylvester Nwobu-Alor set up an investigating team to find out the status of the Agboedo Market Extension and Motor Parks as regards to its ownership and management and he later declared that the government was the owner of the market.
As a way of finding solution to the seeming intractable problem of the market, Igbokwe said: 'The lasting solution to this man-made crisis is the government abiding by the projects third supplementary agreement, recovery of Nnewi Urban Markets and Parks, including the Agboedo Market Extension and Motor Park with the assistance of the OPS Department of Nigeria Police, the State Security Service, the Anambra State Vigilante, for the Nnewi Urban markets and Parks Board of Trustees to execute the approved plan of the project, demolishing all illegal structures therein.'
He, therefore, said that the crisis in the market should not be blamed on the task force men, rather on the Uruagu Nnewi youths who attacked the task force.
Chief Nwobu-Alor corroborating the claims by Igbokwe in another interview ostensibly to reply Chief Victor Umeh, the National Chairman of APGA who had earlier called on the police to arrest him on grounds that his task force men killed Nnewi traders, the special adviser said: 'The people killed are my workers, members of the task force,' adding that the call by Umeh for his arrest when his workers were the ones attacked and killed was sheer madness.