Aba killings: Traders send SOS to Gov Otti over military siege

Traders of Ngwa Road Market (Ahia Ohu)I Aba, Abia State, yesterday, matched to the Government House, Umuahia, in protest over what they described as military siege at the market since the ugly incident of May 30, at Obikabia junction, near Aba, in which five soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen.

Daily Sun has it that in a Save Our Soul (SOS) message to Governor Alex Otti, the traders told the Governor that since May 30, when the incident happened at the Obikabia junction, more than five kilometres away from the market, they have known no peace as the market had been under military siege.

The protesting traders carried placards, some of which read, “The military and masses are friends, why suffering us?”; “We are tired of staying at home”; “We have no access to our shops any more”; “Our shops are under siege” and “We are not the cause of the Aba incident, why suffering us?”

Presenting the protest letter to the governor’s representative, President of the traders’ association, Chinedu Oforndu, bemoaned the actions of the military against the traders, saying they have not been able to access their shops since the incident.

“Our shops have been under siege by the military since May 30. We don’t have access to our shops any more. Hunger is dealing with us. Governor, please come to our rescue,” he pleaded.

Also speaking, the secretary of the traders, Ikenna Ohanaba, stated that they were perplexed over the situation and called for the government’s intervention. He lamented that the traders and their families have been put under undue hardship as a result of the siege. Some other traders said their shops had been under lock and key while human and vehicular movements have been restricted in the market.

“Our shops are under siege by the military, no business transactions, no movement of cars and people, everywhere has been locked by the military.”

They wondered why traders in the market would be made scapegoats over the May 30 incident. They said inasmuch as they were not happy that soldiers on duty were killed and roundly condemned it, it was wrong for them to be made to suffer over what happened about five kilometres away from the market, of which they knew nothing about. The traders said they were pained, the more that the same soldiers harassing them are those staying close to the market, who are supposed to give them protection.

Responding, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Trade, Commerce and Industry, Chief Nwaka Inem, who received the traders on behalf of the governor, commended them for their peaceful disposition. Inem told the traders that but for the maturity and tact with which Governor Otti was handling the situation, something worse would have happened. He, however, promised to convey their grievances to the governor and pleaded with them to remain calm, as he was optimistic that the government would bring the matter under control.

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