Abia Government on Monday said that it has not issued any quit notice order asking Hausa Community in the Lokpanta Cattle Market to leave the state.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Navy Cmdr Macdonald Ubah Rtd, made this known during a press briefing at the Government House, Umuahia.
Ubah said that the information making the rounds that the government had asked the Hausa Community in the market to leave Abia could be best described as “spurious and untrue”.
According to him, the government resolved to make the market a daily market for security reasons and therefore issued a seven days notice for people residing within the market to move out.
Ubah said that the government’s decision was informed by findings which showed that the market served as a rendezvous for the perpetrators of kidnappings in the area.
He said that it had been observed that quite a number of kidnap incidents which had happened for over a year, took place around the Lokpanta-Umunneochi and Uturu axis of the state.
Ubah said that the spate of kidnappings in Abia became worrisome and the government began taking measures to either curtail or entirely stop its occurrence.
He said that it was unfortunate that the cattle market leaders and traders had not carried themselves well as they had allowed criminals to infiltrate them and take over the market.
“Every intel we have gotten concerning the kidnap incidents in the state points to the cattle market as it has been noticed that ransom is paid around the Lokpanta Cattle Market.
“About two months ago, we went to the market and delivered a stern warning that government will not tolerate the market being a safe haven for criminals and criminality.
“They extended the market to the median of the road which they use to carry out their criminal activities.
“So the first thing we did was to dismantle the market in the median and then three weeks ago we carried out a deliberate action of demolishing brothels numbering over 160 rooms and shanties in the market.
“Arrests were made and monies in the neighbourhood of millions were recovered and investigations are ongoing,” he said.
According to him, plans were underway to fence the market and make it a daily market for the main purpose for setting up the market to be actualised.
He urged the citizenry to disregard the rumours about the sacking of the Hausa Community from the state, adding that it was the handiwork of mischief makers.
Ubah said that the government had in a meeting with the cattle market leaders informed them of its decision to make the market a daily market adding that they said that notice was too short and pleaded for more time.
“It is surprising and very embarrassing to the government that they have turned around to say that we have driven them out.
“This is spurious information and should be disregarded.
“The position of the government is that the market will no longer be residential, because key performance indicators have shown that there have been no kidnap around that axis in the past six weeks, since we took all the measures we did.
“So, it is untrue that we told them to leave, but it is the responsibility of the governor, who is also the chief security officer of the state to ensure that the state is safe,” he said. (NAN)