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Tension in Aba over killing of butcher



Okezie Victor Ikpeazu

• Ikpeazu raises farmers, herdsmen committee
• Gov mobilises local ‘police’

Tension gripped residents of Aba last night over a possible outbreak of an ethnic clash between the Hausa and Igbo traders in the Waterside area of Ogbor Hill.

The fears were fuelled by reports of the stabbing to death of an Igbo meat seller and the immediate retaliation of his colleagues, which reportedly resulted in the death of another. And to avert violence, the state government has set up farmers/herdsmen conflict reconciliation committee, just as Governor Okezie Ikpeazu directed that the men of the Abia State Vigilance Services (AVS), popularly known as Bakassi, commence, with immediate effect, a two-week intensive training, for onward deployment to communities to assist in policing under the supervision of the Commissioner of Police.

Unconfirmed reports said last night that an argument broke out between a meat seller and a Hausa man suspected to be attached to a cattle merchant in the popular meat market in Ogbor Hill.

Details of the argument were sketchy, but eyewitnesses said that before other meat sellers could intervene in the argument, the Hausa man pulled out a dagger and stabbed the meat seller who died on the spot.

The angry meat sellers broke out into a riot, blocking the only road leading into Ogbor Hill. Commuters were forced to walk home as all commercial vehicles plying the road parked. It took the intervention of a detachment of soldiers to calm the situation and restore normalcy.

Meanwhile, another incident reportedly broke out in the Ariaria Market of Aba. A man was reportedly killed and burnt. The identity of the man was not confirmed, but unconfirmed reports by eyewitnesses said it was a fallout of the killing in Ogbor Hill. “It might be another Hausa man as the Igbo youth and traders were angry yesterday and were ready to kill anybody who challenged them. Thank God for the soldiers and police,” eyewitness told The Guardian on telephone last night.

Ikpeazu, has sued for calm over the unfortunate incident that led to the death of a meat-seller.

In a statement condemning the killing, he called on the people of the area to remain calm saying security had been beefed up in the area to ensure that the unfortunate incident did not escalate.

Government’s account of the incidents was somewhat different from the eyewitnesses.’ A statement from the Abia State Government last night said a soldier killed a meat seller at the abattoir, which enraged his friends, and fellow meat-sellers who reacted violently to the incident.

The governor subsequently directed all security agents to ensure water-tight security in the area to prevent any form of violence.

“I have instructed and equipped security agencies in the state to ensure water-tight security around our borders and towns against any form of attack,” said Ikpeazu.

“ I have directed that the men of the Abia State Vigilance Services (AVS), popularly known as Bakassi, commence, with immediate effect, a two-week intensive training, for onward deployment in our communities to assist in community policing under the supervision of the Commissioner of Police.

“All Traditional Rulers in the state are required to submit names of 10 youths from their community to the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs from Tuesday 10th to Wednesday 11th May 2016. These youths will be enlisted into the Abia State Vigilance Services (AVS).

“I have mandated the law enforcement agencies to search and screen all trucks and vehicles conveying livestocks, food items and persons into the state from any part of the country. The law enforcement agencies will also search and screen markets and settlements where livestocks and dealers are, to ensure security”, he said

The governor said he had constituted a Farmers/herdsmen Conflict Resolution Committee. The committee is headed by the Commissioner of Police.

“The State Government has also constituted Farmers/Herdsmen Conflict Resolution Committee in the 17 Local Government Areas of the state. The Local Government chairmen will head the committees in their LGAs.

“Other members of the committees include Divisional Police Officers in the LGAs, Local Government NSCDC heads, the DSS Local Government Chiefs, LGA Chairmen of Traditional Rulers Council and LGA Heads of Hausa communities,” Ikpeazu added.

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