Northerners in Abia State have said that their request to be recruited in the planned security outfit in the south east code-named Ebubeagu is not to direct affairs of the body, but to assist the Vigilante Group protect the Umuchieze Cattle Market. Umuchieze is in Umunneochi LGA of Abia State
“We, the northern community, have suffered untold hardship here. We are at the mercy of kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers etc. As a result, we wrote a Save-Our-Soul (SOS) letter in January 2021 to the Commissioner of Police, Abia State Command and State Director of Department of State Security (DSS).
“The local vigilante we set up sometimes ago is without arms; we are helpless, that’s why we want to be included in the Ebubeagu and will serve only in Umuchieze Cattle Market. Our vigilante can be incorporated into Ebubeagu and serve and take orders from its command structure”, the Umuchieze Cattle Market, through their spokesman, Mr Buba Abdullahi Kedemure told the Witness.
The Witness had travelled to Umuchieze/Lokpanta Cattle Market in Umunneochi LGA of Abia State to ascertain why the northerners there asked to be part of Ebubeagu. They said, “We are not asking to work with them, but bring them to protect our lives and properties including cows”.
They (the Umuchieze Cattle Dealers Association) therefore commended the south east governors for establishing a south east based security outfit called Ebubeagu.
Earlier, the group had told journalists at the Umuchieze Cattle Market in Umunneochi local government area of Abia State on Monday, the spokesman of the Northern Community in Umuchieze Cattle Market, Mr Buba Abdullahi Kedemure said the traders are willing to submit their vigilante security service to the Ebubeagu security outfit.
According to them, the Umuchieze Cattle Market is made up of both northern and Igbo traders, adding that the overwhelming threat of insecurity in the market made them to write Save-Our-Soul (SOS) letters to both the Commissioner of Police, Abia State command and State Director of the Department of State Security (DSS) for protection early this year.
Kedemure, who spoke in company of leaders of the market which included, Alhaji Annaym Umar, the chairman of the market; Hussaini Mohammad, Sarkin Zango; Alhaji Baba Ahmed, Stakeholder; Umari Ali, Chief of Staff; Alhaji Uba Mohammad, deputy Sarkin Zango and the Chief Imam of the market, Malam Bashir Sali, described the rumour making the rounds that the market has been infiltrated by bandits as unfounded.
He described the Umuchieze Cattle Market as a peaceful market that welcomes businessmen and women from all over the country, stressing that it does not habour strange fellow, let alone criminals.
“Gentlemen of the press, we’re deeply worried by this allegation. This allegation is a calculated attempt by some disgruntled elements within and outside the cattlle market to incite our host communities and government against us.
“The good people of Abia State and the nation at large should disregard the allegation. The rumours allege that we’re harbouring bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and herdsmen in the market and that the said criminals were authorized by us to plan and attack their victims within and outside the state.
“Today makes it 16 years and three months since the cattle market was established and had become a unifying factor between the north and the south. Some people are not happy with the peaceful coexistence that have been existing between us and our host communities; hence the allegation’, he said.
According to him, “while we admit that there is exodus of northerners, herdsmen inclusive from the south to the north in recent times, the fact that some of them do come here to board vehicles to the north with their families does not mean that we harbor them and lead them to crime”.
On killings by Herdsmen in Ebonyi State, the northern leaders in Abia State urged the federal government to fish out the killers and prosecute them without delay, lamenting that some criminals of Fulani descent have continued to dent the image of Fulanis whom they described as peaceful.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.