Tensions Rise in Abia State as Northern Traders Appeal for Intervention Over Eviction From Cattle Market

by Ikem Emmanuel

Tensions are mounting in Abia State as leaders of northern traders in the Lobbanta Garke Cattle Market appeal for intervention. The traders have reached out to prominent figures, including President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar II, to help resolve the issue of a 14-day eviction ultimatum issued by the Abia State government.

The Vice Chairman of the Cattle Traders in Lobbanta, Buba Abdullahi Kedemure, along with other leaders, visited the office of the National Consensus Movement (NCM) in Kaduna to seek support. They expressed their concerns over the ultimatum, which they claim is unjust. The state government has alleged that the traders are harboring criminals, a charge that the traders vehemently deny.

“We are appealing to our leaders to intervene and call the governor to withdraw the 14-day ultimatum for us to leave,” said Kedemure, emphasizing their status as law-abiding citizens who have conducted legitimate businesses in the state for years.

Dr. Auwal Abdullahi, the National President of the Northern Consensus Movement (NCM), expressed his determination to protect the interests of Northern traders. He called on the Abia State governor to withdraw the ultimatum, emphasizing that it is detrimental to both sides. He reminded the governor and other Southeastern leaders that Igbos own businesses worth billions of Naira in Northern states without facing harassment, and the same should apply to Northern traders in the East.

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Auwal expressed concerns that such actions by the governor could lead to suspicions of conspiracy theories, potentially inciting civil unrest in the country. He urged President Tinubu and all Northern leaders to intervene in the matter to prevent escalating tensions.

However, Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Navy Commander MacDonald Ubah (retd.), has dismissed the rumors and stated that the governor never ordered the eviction of Northerners from the cattle market. Instead, he clarified that the market would no longer operate at night due to security concerns in the Lokpanta/Uturu axis, which has experienced insecurity issues.

According to intelligence reports, the cattle market had been identified as a potential breeding ground for criminal activities, including kidnappings. Thus, the decision to make it a daytime-only market was based on security measures to prevent the infiltration of criminals.

The Special Adviser emphasized that Governor Alex Otti is not tribalistic and has no intention of discriminating against any group based on their origin. He urged the traders to comply with the government’s directive, emphasizing that it was for the greater good.

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