Gov. Okorocha Ordered Owerri Market Demolition: Civil Society Union Tells President Buhari To look Into The Role Of Security Agencies.

Gov. Okorocha  Order Owerri Market Demolition: Civil Society Union Tells President Buhari To look Into The Role Of Security Agencies.

The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), a 49-member civil society coalition, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order a probe into the use of lethal force ordered by Mr. Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo State, to evict traders from
Owerri’s Ekeukwu Market on Saturday as a prelude to demolition of the market.

The call was contained in an open letter signed by Mr. Okechukwu Nwagunma, National Coordinator of NOPRIN.

The incident resulted in the death of at least three persons, one of whom was Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, a 10-year-old boy helping his parents to evacuate goods trapped in their shop. Three others sustained injuries, while scores lost their means of livelihood.

The statement noted that Mr. Okorocha ordered a combined force of the Nigerian Army from the 34 Artillery Brigade Obinze, Owerri; operatives of the Nigerian Air Force, State Security Services, the Police, National Security and Civil Defence Corps, Imo Security Network and a platoon of armed thugs to be used as security cover for the eviction of traders from and demolition of the market.

 It equally noted that the demolition and eviction were executed despite a court order restraining the governor from taking the action pending the determination of the substantive matter before the court.
“The deployment of soldiers is unlawful and unwarranted since it was purely a civil dispute.

 We call for an investigation to determine whether the deployment of the military to aid the governor in his atrocious and lawless act received the approval of the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces,” NOPRIN demanded.

The coalition stated that Mr. Okorocha’s decision to invite soldiers, who are trained to kill, is tantamount to premeditated extrajudicial killing. It accused Mr. Okorocha of having a predilection for violence, disregard for the rule of law and public opinion.

“Brazen display of executive lawlessness and impunity has become the hallmark of the Okorocha administration. This is not the first time that the governor of Imo State would unleash savage violence on the people he ought to be governing, targeting, especially critics and political opponents over disputes which are subjects of pending judicial proceedings,” NOPRIN stated.

 The coalition pointed out that Mr. Okorocha, displaying total insensitivity to the current economic situation in the country, decided to relocate the Owerri Main Market, known traditionally as Ekeukwu Owerri, from the Owerri Municipal Council to Egbeada in Ubomiri, Mbaitoli Local Government Area. NOPRIN equally pointed out that the stalls and structures in the market were built by private estate developers contracted by the old Owerri Local Government Area and latter Owerri Municipal Council to build and operate the market for 99 years to enable them to recoup their investments.

The eviction and demolition, NOPRIN explained, have put the developers at a huge risk of losing their life investments.

 Mr. Okorocha's insensitivity, said NOPRIN, saw him ignore a protest by over 1,000 Owerri women, dressed in black, and written appeal by traders in the market.

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