We’ll petition ICC over demolition of Owerri market, says HURIWA
• Okorocha justifies action, uncovers hidden den for criminals
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said it would petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands if the perpetrators of the demolition and killing in Owerri market are not arrested and prosecuted.
It also condemned governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State for flouting a subsisting order of an Imo State High Court by forcefully demolishing the ancient Ekeukwu market.
HURIWA accused the governor of illegal use of the armed forces to carry out a simple task of stopping possible breach of peace as a consequence of the controversial demolition of the longstanding market in the heart of Owerri city, an action the Aborigines kicked against and successfully secured a pending interlocutory court’s injunction which has been brazenly disrespected.
In a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA deplored the action of the governor.
HURIWA said: “We condemn the dictatorial and lawless administration of Mr. Rochas Okorocha of APC for violating the sanctity of the rule of law.
“We demand that the civil society community in Imo State should also proceed to press charges against identified armed security operatives who committed these daylight extrajudicial killings of protesters who posed no harm to anyone but who were simply ventilating their collective outrage at the unconstitutional act of the current Imo State governor.’’
Meanwhile, the governor has justified his action, saying the decision was in the best interest of all to decongest, eradicate crime and criminality and rehabilitate infrastructural facilities at the Douglas Road, where the market was located, which are in sorry decaying situation.
He said kidnapping, armed robbery and others were flourishing there. The House of Representative member representing Owerri Federal Constituency, Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call Okorocha to order. He said the action of the governor without an alternative accommodation and compensation in the present economic dispensation was most ‘inhuman and anti people.’
Also, the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, has condemned in strong terms the demolition of the market
In a statement, he described the action as ‘’Gestapo- like invasion’’ and condoled with those who may have lost their live, injured or had their property destroyed.
The leaders and youths of the five communities that make up Owerri metropolis had rejected the relocation, saying the only ancient market had remained symbol of relics of their culture.
Okorocha, who visited the demolition site on his return from Abuja, at the weekend, also uncovered a den of criminals in an uncompleted building within the vicinity where he said smoking of dangerous substances, and other criminal activities were going on. He directed the security agencies to secure the building and the area until the rehabilitation work along the street and environ was completed.
Swiftly, Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, has blamed politicians for being behind the rumour of killings. He said: ‘’For the reported death of the ten-year old boy, those who reported the incident should have been gentle enough to mention the area the incident took place to let the world know whether it has anything to do with the demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri market or not.’’
Similarly, scores of traders in Isinweke community in Ihitteuboma Local Council, at the weekend, protested what they referred to as planned demolition and relocation of their ancestral market in the area, by the agents of the local government.
The protesters who carried placards marched through the streets in the area, urging the intervention of the state government and other political leaders.