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Friday, 23 September 2016

Traders, not IPOB, behind Abakaliki protest – Police

The Ebonyi Police Command on Friday said the protest at Abakaliki was not carried out by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) but by traders and artisans at the Mechanic Village.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that IPOB had ordered people in the South East Zone to observe a sit-at -home action on Friday in support of their demand for self actualisation.

But Mr George Okafor, the Police Public Relations Officer, told NAN that the Force ensured that no IPOB protest was carried out in the state.


“We are in touch with our divisions across the state and can confirm that the state is peaceful with people going about their businesses.

“We only witnessed disturbances at the auto mobile village in Abakaliki where traders and artisans protested over alleged discrepancies in the levies stipulated by the state government,” he said.

The spokesman said that the command had deployed officers to the area in order to restore normalcy.

“The traders were protesting that their leaders connived with the contractors hired by the government to defraud them and will only pay directly to the government through a designated account.


“They were unruly; they damaged police vehicles, injured some of our officers but we are unrelenting in ensuring that calm returns to the area.

“Their officers tried to pacify them but they continued being unruly, insisting that their arrested members must be released before they conduct themselves peacefully.

“This made us to use tear-gas to disperse them and the market would only be re-opened when normalcy returns to the area,” he said.

Mr Rapheal Ugo, Vice Chairman of the market’s Amalgamated Union, condemned the action, noting that traders in a section of the market instigated the crisis.

“It is only traders and artisans at the ‘A’ Line area that refused to pay the levies despite efforts made by others to make them pay.

“Those who perpetrated the act could have considered the economic consequences on the generality of members as we will cooperate with the police in restoring order to the market,” he said.

A NAN correspondent, who monitored the development, reports that Abakaliki and surrounding cities were calm with citizens going about their normal businesses.

Government and private offices remained open while markets and business centres among others opened for daily activities without molestation. (NAN)

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